We're solidly into the HOT season. Sometimes, we're even too tired to think! On the other hand, we've got all this sunshine, good rains, and long days. As gardeners, we're itching to do a lot but the weather just is not cooperating. These are the times to minimize outdoor work and concentrate on outdoor PLAY! We have so many beautiful state parks and other natural areas. Take along a wildlife identification guide to see how many plants and animals you can find. So many tropical plants are flowering now that you can probably list more in summer than any other time.
Fret not about gardening though, there's still a lot that we can do, just be sensible about it. Just like last month, (and next), take frequent breaks, drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, do the heavy work early and late in the day.
Solarizing Tip. If you don't grow tropical vegetables, what better time to solarize your garden beds? If the plant residue in them is tall, you may wish to chop it up first with a string trimmer or hand tools, let it dry a day or two, and then till it in. Moisten the bed thoroughly, then cover with clear plastic. Secure the edges, then let it bake well through the summer.
Plant A Buckwheat Cover Crop. It outcompetes weeds and is easy to till in before fall planting season, adding invaluable organic matter to your soil. Till the buckwheat in before it sets seed or it will reseed in your garden.
Stay Cool and Make Plans #1. Pick up one of the many good landscaping programs for computers and try it out! Many of them allow you to see how your chosen plants will look as they grow to maturity. This is very good for making sure that trees shade your house in summer, but let all the winter sun through. I've been favorably impressed with the plant lists that come with these programs.
Stay Cool and Make Plans #2. If you haven't yet planned your fall garden, do it now. The sooner you order your supplies, the less likely you'll get a "sorry, sold out" letter! Follow this link to chemical-free seed starting mix:
Repotting Time. It's good time for "stepping up" or repotting cramped plants into larger containers. In a shaded area, use a good soil mix with no artificial ingredients. Add some homemade compost—1 part compost to 3 parts potting soil. To help supply potassium and phosphorus, add a half-cup of greens and and half cup rock phosphate to a gallon of potting mix or compost.
Tropical Fruit Tango. Many of the tropical fruit trees have finished producing for the year. Prune out undesirable branches, then chop and compost the residues.
Move Your Bird House. If your birdhouse hasn't been used in over a year, you might consider placing it in a different location. One word of warning: Here in the sub-tropics, unused birdhouses might have a non-avian resident! I've been surprised by a resident Cuban tree frog, rat snake, and the occasional Tokay Gecko!