Hot and dry … a challenge for our gardens.
Dark Purple Opal Basil
Sow seeds of cantaloupe, corn, green beans, summer squash, native melons, Armenian cucumber and okra.
Plant warm-season color annuals such as cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, gaillardia, gomphrena, coreopsis, vinca and gazania.
Water turf efficiently by soaking 8-10 inches deep to moisten the Bermuda grass root zone.
Bedding plants will need water more often this month.
Transplant herbs such as basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
Plant desert-adapted plants this month. The roots readily expand in the heated soil.
The first fig crop starts ripening this month. Fruit matures only on the tree, so keep birds away by covering with netting.
Feed cacti and succulents during the warm months. Apply a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents every month.
Apply fertilizer twice monthly to vegetables. Do not add to dry soil.
Cut back on fertilizing roses to encourage plants to slow down for the summer.
Apply pre-emergent to avoid weeds when the monsoons arrive.
Prune back mature bougainvillea, lantana and hibiscus to stimulate blooms.
Cut back spring bloomers such as brittle bush, penstemon and salvia. Prune young trees early in the summer to slow growth and correct structure.
Cover vegetables with 50-70 percent shade cloth to reduce temperatures, prevent sunscald and increase blossom set for better fruit production.
Cover citrus trunks to prevent sunburn damage.
Drape plants with netting or shade cloth to protect from birds and insects.
Basil is referred to as the “king of herbs” for its culinary versatility. It has more than 50 cultivars, with a few mimicking the flavors of other spices or even fruit. This tropical herb is a must for even the smallest kitchen garden. Its name, Ocimum basilicum, is difficult to say, but it’s easy to grow. Basil only requires full sun for at least six hours a day, warm temperatures (above 50 degrees F. at night) and moist soil. Your local garden center probably offers a few basil varieties as seedlings, but to grow the more unusual cultivars, you’ll need to start from seed. Harvest the top leaves to keep the plant growing and to prevent flowering.
Sweet basil is most common and used in Italian dishes and is the main ingredient for pesto. Thai basil variety has a distinct, spicy, anise-clove flavor. Often used in Asian cuisine. Lemon basil has a citrus flavor and enhances chicken dishes. Lime basil can be a fresh addition to teas and margaritas.