We are less than three weeks away from the ‘official’ start of summer, as every Lea Countian knows, when June arrives so does summertime heat. Here are a few tips for your landscape, garden and lawn to do in June.
If you are growing veggies, you probably have tomatoes planted. One of most common disorders I see with tomatoes is blossom end rot. The disorder is not a disease, but physiological problem caused by the lack of calcium and fluctuating soil moisture. Blossom end rot shows up in degrees of severity on large, flat fruited tomato varieties. Don’t let the soil fully dry out between watering’s or rain but keep evenly moist. Mulching helps conserve the soil moisture to minimize this problem. Before planting tomatoes add calcium to the soil. Blossom end rot usually affects the first set of tomatoes that ripen.
Peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetables benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer that’s mainly nitrogen to keep them vigorous and productive throughout the summer season. The extra dose of nitrogen will stimulate leafy growth on pepper plants which will help prevent sun scald on the fruit.
Another common vegetable problem currently is with squash not setting fruit. The cause is lack of pollination, no insects working their magic in the pollination process. Squash plants have separate male and female flowers as do melons and cucumbers. Often, the first flowers you will see blooming on your prized squash beauties will be all male blooms. The female flowers have a swollen stem that is the unpollinated fruit. Once bees, wasps and other insects transfer pollen to the stigma in the center of the female flower the bloom is fertilized and swollen, immature little squash will begin to develop normally. If it shrivels and turns black it was not pollinated. If mornings are windy, cloudy, rainy, the bees, wasps and insects are not flying, and these blooms will not be pollinated.
You, can be the bee, get a fine camel hair facial brush and lightly rub the center of the male flower collecting the pollen grains and transfer these grains to the stigma in the female flower by rubbing the pollen onto the sticky surface … now, you have just hand-pollinated the flower and a baby squash will soon be coming forth.
June is a busy month for folks leaving for a vacation. At home prior to leaving group plants in containers together near a water source and out of the hot afternoon sun. Grouping them will help plants conserve water, and shade will help reduce the need for water. If plants are located together near a hose, it will make it easier for the caretaker to water all in one spot.
Mow and edge your lawn just before you leave for a neat and tidy appearance, and then give the turf grass and gardens a good soaking. Stop the paper and mail, don’t give the appearance you are away.
The hot June weather in Lea County means the grass varieties will be growing faster. Keep up with the mowing routine so you do not have to bag the grass clippings. You may have to mow every 5 or 6 days instead of every 7 to 10 days. Let the clippings fall back into the lawn to provide nutrients contained within the leaf, a natural recycling process. Keep mower blades sharpened. A ragged leaf end indicates a dull blade. Mowing frequently and at the right height for your specie promotes a healthy, thick turf that is resistant to weeds.
A rule of thumb for watering is to apply enough water to wet the soil 6 inches deep. Shallow, frequent watering promotes a shallow root system that is susceptible to the high heat stresses of summer and winter’s cold deep freezes.
June’s warm soil temperatures provide an ideal time to establish or renovate the home lawn by seed or installing sod. Best turf grasses to have in Lea County are the hybrid Bermuda grasses, (several varieties to choose from) do great for our weather conditions and will do well under water conservation measures mandated. Buffalo grass is another native grass that will provide a durable turf and lawn and very low of water needs.
The onset of warm and rainy weather will become an explosive mix for weed seed germination. The heat will encourage rapid weed growth. Apply specific weed killers to targeted weeds and always read the label and apply accordingly.
Summer color – curb appeal
June is a great month for setting out colorful annuals. There are many types of annuals that can be sown from seed or bought as transplants. A short list: Angelonia, marigolds, gaillardia, vinca, moss rose, purslane, cosmos, dusty miller, cuphea, celosia, snap dragons, petunias, verbenas, geraniums and much more.
Another source of excellent color and some wow, eye-catching plants are the tropical plants either in shades of green leaves, colorful leaves and many that provide, and array of brilliant blooms and they do love the sun and heat of Lea County. These plants add and spark interest to your landscape and design settings. Yes, these tropical plants will die with the first hard frost in the fall, but many can be dug up, potted and moved indoors as house plants in various window light locations.
Some of these plants are, mandevillas in bush or vining form, copper plants, coleus, tropical hibiscus, bougainvillea, crotons, Ixora, caladiums, elephant ears and more
Perennials are another great way to brighten the early to mid-summer season and then there are fall blooming perennials. The main advantage are these plants live-on for multiple years and spread in growth once established in your home’s landscape, as you are not replanting every year as like the summer annuals that die when frost comes. A few that do great in Lea County are perennial hibiscus, cannas, daylilies, summer phlox, salvias, sages, lantana, rudbeckias, cone flowers, irises and more. Fall blooming perennials, asters, Mexican bush sage, Mexican marigold, Gregg’s Mist flower, and Golden-eye Skeleton Leaf … all great attractors of Monarch butterflies in their fall migration to Mexico and hummingbirds.
For colorful blooming annual sand perennials, striking foliage and tropical plants water them in their containers before your plant them and then again after planting to settle them. The soil should be well-prepared with organic matter and well drained. Fertilize with diluted solution on planting and on a regular basis once new growth appears. Dead head (remove faded blooms) to keep plants blooming and looking great in your bed areas or containers. A layer of mulch will help conserve water and prevent weeds too.
Look for aphids on the undersides of leaves, tips of young tender growth terminal shoots. Rub them off by hand or spray with an insecticide to prevent them from multiplying. Read the label and safety concerns when applying these products.
Treat your long needle pine trees for Pine Tip moths, they are flying and will be laying eggs on the soft tips of Ponderosa, Pinyon, Scotch, Austrian, Japanese Black and Afghan pines throughout Lea County. They are a one-eight-inch narrow silver-gray banded moth and can be seen at porch lights and windows at night now. Use insecticides that are systemic in action to move throughout the pine tree’s upper canopy.