Heat Wave!

It’s hot – but what else can we expect in July? Someone called the other day and wanted to plant a groundcover from seed this week. Since this person had recently located from cool San Francisco, I had to explain that July is the worst time for planting anything in most of Nevada, particularly from seed. Newly sown seed has to be kept moist all day, every day, for weeks until new plants can establish root systems. Think how challenging a task it is to keep soil constantly moist when the temperatures are high and the humidity is low. Add wind into the mix and you have a recipe for a planting disaster.

Even planting from containers and watering new plants with a drip system is challenging in July. Those poor newbies sit in scorching sun trying to grow roots to survive. How would you like to be young with tender skin and forced to stay out all day in the hot Nevada sun? So, unless you are planting in the shade, hold off until the temperatures cool down.

For planting in the sun, wait until late summer. But don’t despair! There are plenty of other summer gardening chores. Focus on keeping plants (and yourself) hydrated. As temperatures increase, adjust your irrigation controller to meet the increased water demand. Either water more minutes per cycle (sandy soils) or add more cycles (clay soils). Mulch anything that isn’t mulched to cool soils and retain moisture. Continue to weed and cut back dead flowers. Take care of your garden and harvest veggies.

Fertilizing won’t be one of your chores, unless you use a slow release product. Fertilizers stimulate new growth, which isn’t sun, drought or wind hardy. Since pruning also stimulates growth, don’t prune in July either, if you can help it.

To take care of lawns in July, mow high, leaving grass 3.5 inches long after cutting. Water early in the morning before the sun is up or late in the day when the sun has set. With temperatures in the high 90s, lawns will need approximately 2.25 to 2.5 inches of water per week. This amount increases with higher temperatures, lower humidity and strong winds.

untitledTo help you learn more gardening tips, Extension is offering free Grow Your Own classes every Monday July 15 through August 26, 2:30 to 4:30 pm at 2621 Northgate, Suite 12, Carson City. Call 887-2252 to reserve a place. The July 15 class is “Composting in Small Places.”