Concho Valley Horticulture Update July Gardening Bulletin
The recent scattered showers have certainly been a blessing to landowners and homeowners, and provided a good soak for plants that were beginning to struggle in the heat. Now that July is here, the heat will make it harder to complete large landscape projects, but there are a few things you can do to keep the garden and lawn attractive and productive.
First, keep mowing regularly – Mowing frequently to the recommended height plays a huge role in creating a dense, weed-free lawn.
Mow common Bermuda grass 1-2 ” tall and hybrid Bermuda grass 0.5-1.5 ” tall. St. Augustine should be mowed higher, between 2.5 and 3 “.
Mow often enough that you do not remove more than 1/3 of the height at a time.
Automatic irrigation systems can be a big help in keeping things watered and healthy, but be aware of water usage and keep control of watering frequency. Be comfortable changing the timer and adjust it as needed for seasonal changes. The best setting to keep the timer is “off” and enable it to run when needed. Well-established sod can generally do well with an inch of water applied once a week. If the timer is left on, have at least one rain / frost sensor connected to prevent the system from operating when it is raining or just after a heavy rain.
Fertilize Bermuda grass every 6 to 8 weeks while it is actively growing; slow down or skip fertilization during long periods of hot, dry weather.
Replenish mulch in flower beds and garden plots to a thickness of 4 ” to conserve water and reduce weeds. Organic mulch helps plants grow better, saves water, and adds a finished, eye-catching touch to the curb appeal. Other tips for improving curb appeal – Finish cleaning dead shrubs and tree branches from woody plants damaged by the winter storm. Plant heat-tolerant annual colors such as pentas, periwinkle, and moss rose.
For the vegetable garden, replant warm-season crops like tomatoes and squash for a fall harvest. Buy grafts in the largest container size possible. Larger containers mean a bigger root ball, and more roots mean the plant will establish more easily and experience less transplant shock when planted in the heat of summer.
Indoor herb gardens
Fresh herbs from the garden are wonderful to have on hand for meal prep, craft projects, and gifts. And when it comes to cooking, there’s nothing more convenient than having the herbs right in the kitchen, ready to cut when needed. Indoor herb gardens are very popular and can be a delightful element in the kitchen, providing beauty, fresh scent and interest.
While many herbs are easy to grow outdoors in the West Texas climate, it’s important to remember that most herbs are not naturally adapted to be houseplants. Many popular houseplants like pothos ivy and peace lily grow well indoors because they are adapted to shade, while most herbs need full sun. This is not to say that it cannot be done, with some knowledge, and practicing an herb garden will be successful.
Start by finding the right spot where they can benefit from six to eight hours of direct sunlight, such as a south-facing window. If this is not possible with natural sunlight, grow lights can be used to supplement. Prevent weeds from touching the glass when the temperatures are extremely high or low. Plant herbs in containers with drainage holes and use peat-based potting soil instead of real soil. Most herbs need good drainage and will not grow well in conditions that are too humid. The best way to water potted herbs is to take the plant to the sink and soak the root ball well, then let it drain completely.
Caterpillars in trees
While we love to welcome butterfly caterpillars into our landscapes because we love to see them transform into beneficial adult butterflies, moth caterpillars are often a major nuisance.
Pest moth caterpillars can accumulate in large numbers and cause significant damage to plants. Some common pest caterpillars to watch out for at this time of year include the tomato hornworm which can damage tomato plants, peppers and others in the nightshade family; the sophora worm which feeds on Texas Mountain Laurel, the walnut caterpillar which affects pecans and the fall moth which can affect many types of trees; although it is named after fall, it can actually start in late spring.
Caterpillars defoliating trees have been one of the most common issues faced by the extension office in recent weeks, so keep an eye out for them. They can quickly cause significant leaf loss. Often times, they don’t do enough damage to warrant treatment, but it’s best to watch them out just in case.
Fall moths are caterpillars that form webs in tree branches to protect themselves from predators while they feed on the leaves. An easy way to get rid of borers is to simply use a long stick to tear the strap to allow the birds to take care of them. If a tree is infested with many colonies of borers, it is a good idea to open them up so that they can be eaten by predators and stop damaging the tree.
Walnut caterpillars have come out in abundance this year and can damage pecans and cause stress if they get out of hand. They can defoliate large sections of the tree, so treatment is sometimes necessary. Walnut caterpillars congregate on the trunk at certain stages of their life cycle and this is the easiest time to treat them. If you see masses of walnut caterpillars, try a contact insecticide while they are easily accessible. Spinosad is a great option to use for all pest caterpillars, as it is very effective against them, but its toxicity is low. Just be sure not to apply the pesticide to the butterfly plants as it can damage the types of caterpillars we want to stay.
Events to come
Thursday July 8 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. West Texas Gardening 101 – Insects in the Garden – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Location: People / Plant Connection Headquarters, 416 South Oaks St, San Angelo. Cost: $ 20.
Speaker: Linda Rowe, hosted by People / Plant Connection; Find out which insects are good for your garden and which to look out for.
To reserve a spot, call Susan Stanfield 325-656-3104
Friday July 16 12:00 pm, Lunch N Learn class – Fall vegetable gardening.
Location: People / Plant Connection Headquarters, 416 South Oaks St, San Angelo. Cost: $ 5.
Speaker: Allison Watkins. Hosted by PPC; July is the time to start the new warm season crops for fall production. Learn what to grow when!
To reserve a spot, call Susan Stanfield at 325-656-3104
saturday 11 september 8:00 am – 3:15 pm, Fall Symposium on Landscaping. Location: Texas A&M Center, 7887 N US Highway 87, San Angelo. Cost: $ 30
Speakers: Felder Rushing, Dr Becky Bowling and John R Thomas. Organized by the master gardeners of Concho Valley
Join us for a fun day of learning! Pre-registration required, deadline September 8 to register.
Visit https://txmg.org/conchovalley/ for more information and to register or call 325-659-6522