There is still time to plant tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants, but plant okra and Southern peas by seed. Southern peas are a good cover crop. They grow quickly and cover a large piece of garden through the hottest part of the summer, shading out weeds. Use Southern peas like cut beans when they are immature or shell them when the beans mature.
Watch for spider mites on tomatoes. As a preventative, some gardeners spray neem oil or seaweed extract under the leaves every week. Some even spray both products! If the mites show up, increase the spray frequency to twice per week. Spray in early morning or in the evening. Avoid spraying during the sunniest, hottest part of the day.
Early in the month, fertilize the lawn with a slow-release lawn fertilizer, such as 19-5-9. It releases nitrogen over three months.
The winter weeds are attempting to produce and drop their seed, and the summer weeds are growing for a long summer of production. It is too late to kill the winter weeds with herbicides. The heat will end their life cycle. Keep them mowed and pulled. Herbicides with 2-4D will kill immature, broadleaf summer weeds. Try products labeled for sandburs and crabgrass for spot treatment of those two pests.
Some early peaches will be ready to harvest this month. You can tell they are ready to be picked when the background color changes from green to golden. Maintain your pesticide sprays right up to the time to harvest. Review the label to make sure you confirm to the days before harvest requirements.
If stink bugs show up on peaches, blackberries, tomatoes and other fruit, carbaryl — also known as Sevin — is about the only insecticide that is capable of controlling them.
In the flower garden, plant zinnias, purslane, moss roses and vinca to replace the declining cool weather annuals. In the shade, begonias, pentas, coleus and caladiums are good choices for summer color. Cosmos can be planted by seed in areas where the bluebonnets and other wildflowers have finished their bloom. Remember the wildflowers must be allowed to mature and drop their seed if you want a crop next spring. Cosmos do a good job of covering this wildflower “ugly period.” Spread the seed through the area just before a rain or water it in if you can. Cosmos don’t require any care after that. They will bloom and reseed all summer. There are many colors of cosmos, but the gold and yellow make the best show.
Dr. Calvin Finch is Director of Water Conservation and Technology at the Texas A&M University.
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.