If you’re an early riser, there are a few odds and ends you can tackle in your landscape — even during these sizzling summer days.

Even during the hottest times of the summer, South Texas gardeners have lots to do in the garden. As long as you start early in the morning, stay hydrated and wear sun screen, you can still enjoy your time outside.

So dust off your tools and put on your gardening gear — there’s work to do:

Roses— Encourage fall blooms by removing dead branches and any crossing stems. Fertilize each plant with one cup of slow release fertilizer. Insects can be managed with acephate, spinosad or insecticidal soap. Disease can be reduced with chemicals such as triflorine (aka Funginex), propiconazole (aka Banner), copper or sulfur-based products or organic products such potassium bicarbonate and neem oil.

Tomatoes — It’s time to put new plants in the garden. Seek out heat setters like HM8849, 444, ‘Tycoon’, ‘Red Snapper, ‘Valley Cat’, ‘Celebrity’, and BHN968. Tomatoes should be irrigated lightly every day for the first five days and then watered every three days or when the soil dries under the mulch. (My personal favorite: live oak leaves. They’re easy to move, decompose slowly and are attractive.) Apply two cups of slow release lawn fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed prior to planting.

Okra, peppers and southern peas— Keep them harvested and watered so they’ll continue producing.

Fire ants — For those mounds outside the garden, use acephate. If a mound is in the garden, use products containing permethrin or spinosad.
And as always, keep your lawn green and save water by following the recommended watering advice.

Written by Calvin Finch
Dr. Calvin Finch is the retired Urban Water Program Director for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.You can ask Calvin question and hear his answers on the air as he co-hosts the Gardening South Texas on the air at KLUP (AM 930) Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00pm.