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July 2018, Week 1, Cruel Summer

Welcome to the actual month of July. This is not to be confused with the July-type weather that has been plaguing some of us since early May. In terms of months, the year is half over as we begin the seventh month of the year.

This week's theme song is Cruel Summer by Bananarama.

Cruel Summer

I think that for most people, June ended up being fairly kind in terms of rainfall, although the heat index values on a lot of days sort of cancel out the joy that the rain brings.

As the sweltering heat continues down here with no rainfall, my garden continues to falter in the heat. Any day now I could stop watering and just let it go, but I probably won't do that for a while yet. I hate to give up on it while there's crops still producing well. I also can't help noticing that the only things in bloom in our area now are those plants in areas being irrigated, so giving up on the garden means the pollinators and other creatures could lose the blooming plants.

Some of the zucchini plants have SVBs in them. I am sure of that. I don't think the yellow squash plants do, but that could change any time. Honestly, I don't care. It is too hot to care. I will pull out the plants as they begin to die and bag them up to go to the landfill so that the SVB grubs cannot drop into the ground and give rise to the next generation. Maybe I should just go ahead and yank those zucchini plants now.

The garden is full of pollinators now, but it never has had a shortage of them. Every day there's more and more of them. Like the grasshoppers and leafhoppers, I suspect the pollinators are leaving the drying vegetation that now is going dormant and flocking to the green areas like the garden. We're happy to have the pollinators. There's tons of caterpillars now---it is the largest overall caterpillar population that I can remember since 2010. I haven't sprayed Bt and don't want to do it because I like having a garden full of butterflies and moths, but I have snipped in half a lot of armyworms and such.

I've had my own gardener's theme song in my head this week, singing it to myself as I work in the garden. So, for another dual-song week, here's the song that's in my head when I'm in the garden:

Girl On Fire

Y'all, look at the calendar. It is July. Guess what? The time to begin planting the fall garden is rapidly approaching. Uh oh. I'm not sure how smoothly that summer to fall garden transition will be in areas where the late freezes/heavy rounds of recurring rainfall have held some garden plants back. And then, for those of us in no-rain areas, is it even going to be possible to plant fall crops?

There's nothing new in our garden. The problem zinnias at the SE corner of the garden continue wilting badly daily, literally the moment sunlight hits them. They perk up overnight and look good at 6:30 a.m......until the sun hits them again. It isn't bacterial wilt because I tested for that. But, whatever it is, we've had this happen almost every year to a plant or two or three per year, especially in exceptionally hot years, so I think it is either a fungal or viral thing that is worse in hot weather. It is only bothering the tall OP zinnias at that end of the low flower border and not the shorter hybrids that must have some sort of disease resistance or tolerance bred into them. Oh wait, it is affecting the Pinca zinnias, and they are a hybrid. The very first year I grew Pinca, I had this issue with it, so then I didn't grow it for a few years, and here it is back again this year and with the same issue, so I'm done with Pinca. The wilt disease also isn't bothering any zinnias further uphill in that same bed, so even after all those at that end have died (and they will----one morning I'll go out there and discover they didn't bounce back overnight, and that will be it) and I've pulled them out, we'll still have the rest of the zinnias....and I literally have some zinnias in every bed in the garden, so the butterflies and other pollinators still will have plenty of zinnias.

The Stewart's Zeebest Okra is blooming now, so the first harvest is just a couple of days away. The lima beans and pole snap beans continue to be non-productive because of the heat. I should just yank them out and replace them with something else because I have no intention of watering non-productive plants for the next two months just so that maybe they'll produce in the fall. There's not enough water in southern OK as it is, so I'm not wasting two months of water on non-producing plants.

Southern peas, yellow summer squash and zucchini, peppers and tomatoes continue to produce. The watermelons that replaced the brassicas and then got hit by herbicide drift almost as soon as they emerged now are blooming. Or, at least, the plants that survived the herbicide drift are blooming. There's some big holes in that bed where plants died, or where the survivors have not grown one iota since being hit, but as the surviving vines spread, I think they'll fill in the bare spots.

The volunteer winter squash plant growing in the compost pile also is blooming. Its fruits seem to be developing a tall pumpkin shape, but its vines indicate it is a C. moschata, and I've grown many of those over the years, so we'll just have to wait and see what we get. It is not the shape of a Seminole though, so I've ruled that one out, and it is not the shape of any of the C. moschata Korean summer squash varieties either. I need to watch the shape as it enlarges so I can develop some sort of idea about what variety it might be.

What's new with you all and your gardens?


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