Summer Sun And The Fruits Of My Labor

Summer is officially bearing down on us down here in South Texas. Boy, is it hot! If you garden: you sure don’t want to do it in the middle of the day when it’s over 100°F! However, all the things down here that I choose to plant will usually sail through the heat as long as there’s enough water.

Basil, a heat loving herb.

So, every other day I drag my hose around and water my trees, bushes and vegetable garden. This year I put some perennials in my raised garden beds. Raspberries, blueberries, iris and plumeria. I intended to build up the strip along my fence for these perennials, but I just didn’t have the time (which means I have a ton of cardboard on my porch and I haven’t moved the straw away from the banana bed.) Eventually I will move them to their permanent home, but I know that for now they are going to do really well in my raised beds.

A happy little, shallow rooted, Blueberry. You can see the change in pot culture to the garden on the browned leaves. However you can also see new growth, so it’s doing well. BTW spoiled straw is my absolute favorite mulch.

I do mainly run an organic set up. Although, I use Roundup in the spring, just not anywhere that I grow food crops. I’m on a quarter acre and weeding the entire thing is too much. I focus my weeding in my vegetable beds and use the Roundup on encroaching Bermuda grass (man I hate that stuff!) I strike a balance that I not only can live with, but that I can manage too.

My yard is pie shaped. This is about half way across the longest side. I’ve got a lot to clean up because I just haven’t had a lot of time to dedicate to the yard. I’ll get there.

Since I don’t use a lot of sprays I do go out and remove leaves by hand with spidermite infestations and aphids. Once I start seeing a problem with those I usually spray them down with a water hose. Until… they get out of control. I usually switch to a spray once the powdery mildew starts because sprays of water will only make that worse.

Watermelon flowers on my remesh supports.

When I need to switch gears: I mix up neem, some vegetable oil, some mild dishwashing detergent, milk or baking soda (both of these stop powdery mildew) and some aromatherapy grade oil of oregano for the mildew (ingesting food grade oil of oregano is great for stopping colds, too. It’s a powerful oil. I don’t do the “essential oils fix everything” stuff that was popular for a while. This has just turned out to really work well, so I continue to use it.)

My pomegranates tend to get black spot. It hasn’t hit this year yet.

Another thing that I could do (that I could spend way more money or time on if I tried to) is use organic grade miracle grow. But, I’ve been using plain old miracle grow my whole life and I don’t see a need to switch. So once a week I get out my miracle grow sprayer and soak my plants in its goodness.

The fig tree is covered in figs. It’s time to put the bird netting on.
The pear tree is also loaded. Even the game of throwing pears at my dog, that the squirrels love to play, hasn’t stripped the tree.

Deep soil, no weeds, miracle grow and a neem oil mixture for pests and disease are the foundations of my successful gardening adventures. I have figured out how much I should be watering, when it’s this hot, and I do little chores each day: like winding vining plants up my supports, cutting back and thinning out my bananas, reseeding when birds steal my newly sprouted seedlings (because I forget every once and a while to protect them.) Just, diddling out there, finding some thing that needs doing.

Several tomatoes, bananas (including my 9 month fruiting banana! I’m so excited!) and a little Blueberry plant.
Above is a look across two raised beds. Below is one of my statues nestled between daylilies and melons on a trellis.

I’ve decided I need to give up on my thought of simply sitting and enjoying my garden. I can sit out there for a maximum of about ten minutes before I notice something “quick” that I need to do. And once I do that thing, I notice something else. I’m never done. This artwork is never finished. My painting is never put away or hung, forgotten and left for others to enjoy, although other people do enjoy my garden. I just can’t stop interacting with it. After 10 years of installing and caring for my garden I am as interwoven in it, as much as anything else out there.

A look across the porch into the yard where my husband built a windmill for me.

However, having such an active hobby has made my family regularly live into their 90’s and beyond. I become a part of my garden, not just an observer. Every year my land supports more and more life. From birds, to lizards, to beneficial insects. And in turn, that web of life rewards me with more and more food. And honestly: just an enjoyment and appreciation for God’s creation that I am lucky enough to get to participate in.

Nonastringent persimmon. These are heavenly when they are ripe.
An unspotted ladybug patrolling my melon plants.

I hope you are enjoying your time in your garden this year. If you find you are struggling: I have a 4 part, free class that you can access here to get you back on track:

Good luck and go get your hands dirty!

Butterfly pea flowers (used for dye or antioxidant laden tea), tropical milkweed for the monarchs and a mama cardinal hanging out on my porch.

Crazy Green Thumbs


7 thoughts on “Summer Sun And The Fruits Of My Labor

  1. That banana is impressive for June! I suppose that warmth will do that. We somehow ended up with a huge bunch of cannas here that needed to be removed from where they were. They were already tall and blooming, although shabby from the wind where they were. The timing could not have been worse for them, but they would have been discarded if I did not at least try to recycle them. The bananas arrived the same way, in early summer, but survived and grew, . . . until gophers ate them.

    1. Oh no! Gophers suck! We had prarie dogs in Colorado. And rabbits. I think there’s too many predators down here for those problems. However, I’m currently dealing with squirrels, rats and mice. I’ve already had a melon get chewed to bits and the squirrels are dropping my pears on the dog. I was going to move the cannas I ended up with by my porch. They started out with one seed from a bird, but they’re so happy I decided to move my amaryllis and daylilies instead and give the cannas that bed. Yes, bananas love the warmth as long as there’s water and nitrogen fertilizer. I’m super excited to see if my 9 month banana fruits. Thanks for coming by! I always enjoy your comments.

      1. Does nitrogen promote foliage but inhibit bloom? I suppose that it would not, since every cane terminates in bloom. I remember reading that at a nursery in Oklahoma though. (Weirdly, cannas, as well as tropical hibiscus, seemed to be more popular in Oklahoma than they are here! Heck, we were there in October, and potted tropical hibiscus were abundant in nurseries.) I can only deduce that perhaps nitrogen promotes more abundant foliage that might visually compete with bloom. Perhaps it decreases the number or size of the flowers on the blooming canes.

      2. I switch. Once my plants hit 6 feet I switch to a multi fertilizer. The nitrogen strengthens the plant because it is a grass. Once it’s big enough I add bone meal. But I’m still trying to get a 9 month banana to bloom and fruit in my February to November season. Just because it is old enough doesn’t mean it is strong enough. We’ll see. I’m switching to the new one from the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel loves my weather and fertilizer but it is a second year bearer. Hopefully my new guy can make it! I remember the first time I saw cannas in mass was in the median in the streets of colorado springs. They are zone 5b so, you never know what will do well in your summer. It’s the cold weather that limits these plants. They were planting canna every year in Colorado but by summer they were blooming like crazy.

      3. Okay, so that is useful and sensible; get them to grow as much as possible, and then get them to make the most of their inevitable bloom. I am surprised by their resiliency. I had to ask about those that I saw in landscapes in Oklahoma, and was told that some (known as red flags) were not maintained. They bloom through most of the summer, die back with the first frost, and then start the process over the following year. They survive outside through the winter! I saw some ‘garden varieties’ in a park, and suspect that they do not get dug for winter either, although they likely get cut back for neatness. They are actually prettier in Oklahoma than they are here, perhaps because they get a good dormancy, and must concentrate their effort into their summer season. They are evergreen in Beverly Hills, but can look shabby without grooming. Grooming takes a bit of effort, since new growth comes up amongst old grown. I suspect that is why they are less popular than they had been. Most get frosted here, and those that are sheltered from frost get shabby enough that I do not mind cutting them all back for winter. They may not look as pretty as they do in Oklahoma, but they sort of look a bit neater, . . . I mean with less crud in them, than they do down south.

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