Pre-summer Checklist

I’ve got a seat saved for you! Come see what I’m doing in the garden!

Right now I am finishing up the main chores I have left until our summer is in full swing. Our days are sure cool this year. It’s not officially summer weather for us, for sure. It’s very weird to be in the 70s this far out on the calendar. The cool weather is very appreciated!

I have to hurry to get everything set up before our triple digit summers start bearing down on us. I have a few weeks left and then I will only be able to work in my garden in the early morning.

This is what I do to prepare for our hellish summer temperatures.

A bag of Black Kow composted manure under my fig tree. I prune this into a fan shape. Figs are very forgiving plants and I will remove the growth at the base when it gets in the way of our gate and the mowers. My fig has issues with fungal disease at the end of the year. I rake up and dispose of fallen leaves and spray it with copper fungicide in the dormant season.

This fig is a huge plant!

1. All soil amending needs to be wrapped up. I’ve been amending soil since our spring, which was extremely late this year. Usually it starts in February, this year we froze, out until the end of March.

Wide shot of part of the banana bed, current corn and the giant fig. I use the old playground supports for the bananas. I need to move them over into place!

2. If I’ve got weeds it’s past time to hit them with round up. This should be my second spraying for things that didn’t take the hint from the first round up session this spring (or it’s just the plants that I missed.) I’m on a quarter acre, and I have a zone of perennials I need to keep weeds and grass out of, plus a play yard area that has pea gravel. My boys are no longer playing out there so it’s weed city if I don’t spray. I have future plans for that area, but it’s not quite time for that yet.

Chinese mustard
My spring plants are close to the time to harvest.

3. My beds should be winding down for spring or already planted for summer. I have a few seeds left to put out and a really dumb late season purchase of bare root berries that hasn’t arrived. We’ll see how that goes.

4. Mushroom bed. I bought an easy outdoor mushroom spawn kit. I put it out underneath our trampoline in straw and wood chips. I have been really disappointed with it so far. I’ve gotten a few toadstools but no wine caps. If I’m getting toadstools the environment is right. The main issue is I could have completely missed the mushrooms. The toadstools send up a single fruiting body and it’s bent over and decomposing by midafternoon. I have not been out checking this bed every morning, so I may just give up on trying mushrooms. I don’t have time to sit outside and monitor this bed every single morning.

5. All tree fertilizing needs to end. Spring should be when fertilizer goes down on established trees. Encouraging new growth with nitrogen will stress my trees in our boiling summer weather. I’m trying a new method with a sick persimmon tree (my second with this problem, that may have to do with the rootstock.) What I’m trying is called the sick tree treatment. You can read about it here: sick tree treatment

Some Egyptian “walking” onions and the compost that is over about 15+ bush, Porto Rico sweet potato slips. These always do so well for me and I end up with buckets of sweet potatoes in the fall.

6. It’s time to divide my big bananas and move the pups around the yard. I love the look of my antique bananas even if they won’t fruit here. This year is the first full year for a 9 month banana that I’m trialing. Crossing my fingers here! These bananas and my corn do need nitrogen fertilizer right now. Grasses and giant herbs (like corn and bananas) are huge nitrogen feeders. The vinte cohol 9 month banana has really taken off this year. I’m excited about the prospect of fruit. I also just received a Babaco Papaya from raintree. These are slightly more hardy than bananas, so it will be going out in the banana bed. I am not a fan of ripe papaya, but I love Thai green papaya salad, Som Tam. Papaya and banana are both herbaceous, cold sensitive nitrogen needy plants, so I’m excited about the new addition!

One end of the banana bed. These are Gros Michel and I will be dividing and moving these around. As long as I can get nitrogen on them they’ll be happy.

7. If your soaker hoses aren’t in place: now is the time to get that done or summer will bake and dehydrate your plants.

Soaker hose around a rosemary plant.

What comes next? Once my summer bulbs flower and die back, it is a good year to divide them. They are very full and will be beautiful spread around more of my property. I have amaryllis and gladiolus that stay in the ground year round. I think that’s so cool!

I have daylilies that I got from my mother in law in Colorado. Hers bloom single, down here they bloom double. I am tickled pink every year when all of these favorites come back up! I’ve gardened this far south for about 12 years now and this reliable feat of magic (of outdoor tender bulbs returning) are some of my favorite miracles down here!

My crazy pomegranate that is getting on my nerves. It has decided its very happy, which is good, but I don’t need an entire yard full of pomegranates!

I also need to divide any multstem bushes. I have pomegranate coming up everywhere and I need to get control of them. Also, splitting zone 10 bushes and moving them around is also on the list. Some I can literally split in half and others will need to do air layering or by starting cuttings.

As my large fruiting vines grow, I will be spending a few hours outside each week winding the new growth through the remesh panels that I use and creating slings from the potato bags that I’ve been saving all year. I will be monitoring for aphids and powdery mildew and starting the preemptive application of neem oil to keep those two things in check.

I have a second year muscadine grape this year. I built up a small raised bed for it since they prefer more acidic soil than what I have. There’s a plastic bag lining the sides and a little bit of the bottom to conserve moisture. On the to-do list is a support system.

I am also planning on cleaning my porch off and repainting the pillars white and then painting the ceiling “haint blue”. If you don’t know what this tradition is, you can read about it here: blue porch ceilings It’s a tradition in the South, but usually practiced further East than Texas. I lived in Georgia for a while when I was growing up, so this is a remnant of that experience. I’m hoping to get some new ceiling fans for outside, but the fans are low on the list of things I plan to do this year.

I have some large things to drag around to the front, to have our garbage company come get. I bought a small wood chipper. Pretty sure I’m going to burn it up with the amount of limbs I need to shred, but it has a warranty. I’ll be testing that.

I am running fencing (hardware cloth) around the vegetable beds this year to discourage mice, squirrels and opossums. I’m also putting remesh panels, lined with plastic fencing, around the bushes that I need to keep varmints out of so I can maximize the amount of fruit I get.

I want to remove some boxwood bushes that aren’t doing anything for me. That’s low on the list though.

And because I don’t have enough to do in our heat: I bought a quick set pool. It’s hot here and it will be nice to play in the water with my kids. But, I’ve got to cap a sprinkler head and level the place in the yard (with bags of sand) where I’m trying to put it.

Lastly, I built some furniture last year and I’m going to paint it and put instructions up on this blog. That should be done in a few months. And because it’s one of my projects, I’ve made it a big job. But I believe I’ll be really happy with it.

What are you planning to do this summer in your garden? Is your list shorter or longer? I think most gardeners are dreamers and we always have something planned! I told my husband the other day that building things in my garden is an extension of the playing I did outdoors as a kid.

One year, when we lived in Austin, my brother and I decided we were going to dig our own swimming pool. We were pre-elementary school, so we did a lot of digging, but eventually gave up long before we made much of a dent. But it was fun, it was play and: gardening is my adult take on random outdoor fun! I get excited about going outside and feel so free and healthy afterwards. This hobby is a blessing! I hope you are starting to enjoy the fruits of your labors from spring. Meet you out in the garden, Crazy Green Thumbs!


2 thoughts on “Pre-summer Checklist

    1. I get caught up in my kid’s activities or they bring some horrible cold home and everything gets screwed up. I feel for you. So far I’ve had a good spring. Looking forward to summer. But that doesn’t happen every year, for sure.

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