Pumpkins

Assorted gourds and heirloom pumpkins

Monsoon rains help quench the thirst of summer plants.

Tip of the Month

Planning for a good fall and winter harvest starts six to eight weeks before your first anticipated frost date, therefore, you should plant somewhere in the middle of August. If you want pumpkins and gourds for Halloween, you’ll have to count back 90-120 days to plant seeds. Also plant seeds of carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce varieties, radishes, bok choy, artichokes, spinach, kale and beets. Corn and squash varieties that mature quickly can be planted early in the month. When temperatures “cool down” below 100 degrees, set out transplants of members in the cabbage family. Be sure to keep these early starts well watered, and consider giving them some afternoon shade if temperatures spike. The higher humidity can reduce moisture loss to plants. Reduce watering frequency if monsoons occur and check soil regularly with a water meter.

Planting

Plant native and low-water-use species now, when summer rains make digging easier. Plant palms, whose root systems thrive when planted in the heat.

Plant bougainvillea, yellow bells, oleanders, acacias, cassias, mesquites and palo verdes.

Pruning

Prune back any surviving tomato plants.

Deadhead bedding flowers. Vincas that wilt but do not recover with a deep watering should be discarded.

Harvesting

Pick okra and squash regularly to keep plants producing until frost.

Fertilizing

Fertilize citrus toward the end of the month.

Avoid fertilizing frost-tender shrubs now, as this will encourage new growth that may freeze later.

Look for plants with chlorosis — yellow leaves and green veins. Treat plants with an application of chelated iron. Give roses a late-summer application of specially formulated rose food.

Watering

Water citrus deeply once a week or more. Too much water can result in chlorosis.

Water summer-blooming flowers and shrubs.

Water large, established cacti and succulents every 5 weeks if rains have been scarce. Small specimens benefit from watering every 3-4 weeks. Ocotillo canes cover themselves with green leaves during the monsoon season. Adding extra watering in between storms can stimulate new growth.

Blooming

Red bird of paradise produces showy clusters of brilliant red and orange blossoms until frost. The fern-like foliage adds a tropical look to desert gardens.

Transplanting

Set out transplants of basil, chives, lemon verbena and nasturtiums.

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