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July 2018, Week 3, Summertime Blues

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

Why does it already feel like it has been July forever? This really is the longest month of the year....or at least it feels that way.

Got the Summertime Blues? I think I do. Wouldn't it be fun to have a freak snowstorm? Well, of course that is not going to happen, but it is a lovely dream.....

So here's the song we'll be gardening to this week, from Eddie Cochran, who died tragically young 2 years after this became the biggest hit of his short career:

Summertime Blues

What is going on in your gardens this week? Hopefully something good!

Our garden is dry and parched. Okay, that's the negative. How about the positives? We're providing an ecosystem that is supporting butterflies, moths, bees, green lacewings, lady bugs, assassin bugs, wheelbugs, dragonflies, robber flies, green-legged flies, hummingbirds, frogs, toads, skinks, an occasional snake, turtles (guess who's been chomping on low-hanging tomatoes?), birds, harvester ants, all kinds of beetles and......(now for the negative) also squash bugs, squash vine borers, leaf-footed bugs, stink bugs, crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles, snails, slugs, mosquitoes, fire ants, and cucumber beetles. See there? People think I work alone in the garden? Well, obviously not. There's a lot of us in there.

The same old same old flowers are blooming. I don't think that there's any flowers left that haven't bloomed yet, except the sunflowers, which have big heads that just haven't unfolded their petals yet. I expect them to bloom any day now. The same old same old veggies are producing---tomatoes, peppers, lima beans (only a few), okra, southern peas, and....not yet producing but getting close....the icebox watermelons.

The herbs are holding their own. The parsley plants are hanging in there except for one flat-leaf parsley plant that withered in the heat. Some of the other flat leaf parsley plants are flowering. I cut them back constantly trying to prevent it, but they are cool-season plants and seem to be expressing their opinion that they've had enough of the heat now and will bloom if they want to, and they want to. Luckily, younger parsley plants are a lot further behind them in terms of growth and should make it all summer so the swallowtail cats will have something to eat. We still have 6 or 8 dill plants left, but they're flowering now in the heat and won't last too much longer either. Basil is trying to bloom too. We're hitting 100 degrees and will be even hotter in the coming week, so it is impossible at this point to stop the herbs from blooming, but I keep trying to cut them back to slow it down at least. The catnip is about half in bloom, and we have a lot of catnip plants. The bumble bees adore the catnip flowers, so once the catnip lures them in, the bumble bees travel all over the garden pollinating plants. Tonight there still were bumblebees working in the garden when I came in shortly before 8:30 p.m. Other herbs that are holding up well in the heat include sage, pineapple sage, onion chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, spearmint, and peppermint. There's probably others, but those are all I can think of at the moment.

Between the zinnias and the verbena bonariensis, the butterflies are insanely happy. Sure, there's other flowers in bloom, but these are the two that they really adore. Meanwhile, hummingbirds visit the honeysuckle, red yucca, various salvias and the bat-faced cuphea. There's tons of hummingbirds out now, so I assume the adults have raised all their babies and are through with that, and now building strength for the migration south which will begin in a few weeks. Traffic also is heavy around the feeders. We mostly have ruby-throated hummingbirds, but also a few rufous and even fewer black-chinned (they are my favorites).

The purple martins still are around, but have moved to the woods now. I am so glad. Those purple martin houses make them happy, but are too hot in this sort of weather.

At night there's nicotiana, datura (angel's trumpets) and four o'clocks in bloom for the moths.

I've very definitely switched to summertime survival mode and intend to do my gardening each morning between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. and that's it. I'm coming in at 9 a.m. no matter what from this point forward. There's just no point in staying out there any later than that. The heat escalates rapidly here after about 8:30 a.m. and I'm not going to torture myself.

Do y'all realize that it is time to start the fall gardens? Nope. I am not kidding about that. Under OSU Guidelines, it is time to plant fall tomato plants.

Unsure of the timing of fall plantings? Here's the OSU Fall Gardening Fact Sheet. Remember that these dates are the opposite of winter/spring planting dates, so the first date in a range of dates is for folks in NW OK and the last date is for folks in SE OK, and the rest of us pick a date somewhere within that range.

Fall Gardening Fact Sheet

I know, I know, I all are thinking that it is crazy to be talking about fall planting when we are likely to be having the hottest weather of the summer (so far) this week. I totally get it. I understand it. I agree. It is what it is. We just have to deal with it.

With the drought conditions in my area, other than the fall tomatoes, I don't really have a plan for fall. Maybe I'll put some cool-season plants in the ground in September if we get any rainfall between now and then. We'll see.

What's up with all of you? What's happening in your yards? your gardens? with all your family and your pets? I hope everyone is staying cool and hydrated.

We may have the summertime blues now, but we need to perk up and get happy. Summertime is half over so we're on the downhill slide. Maybe I can find a happy song for us for next week. What do y'all think? Maybe the Beach Boys? They have lots of happy summertime songs.


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