Summer Gardening Tips
The rainy season, with all its heat and humidity is here on the Treasure Coast. The Summer Solstice officially starts summer this year on June 21. At my house, summer gardening is defined by winding down, taking stock and planning for next fall. If you must garden, here are a few tips for making it through the summer months.
Don’t fertilize! With the rainy season upon us, fertilizer bans start June 1 and for most of the Treasure Coast end on September 30. To the best of my knowledge Sewalls Point in Martin County is the only place that extends their fertilizer ban to November 30. Check your local government to verify end dates. For more information Fertilizer ordinances
Skipping fertilizer during the summer helps our waterways and wildlife by not feeding the algae that grows during warm weather. Besides, who could forget the toxic algae from last summer? I was skeptical about not fertilizing the little St. Augustine lawn in my garden, but did so last year. The result of my bold experiment?. The lawn looked perfectly fine, had less problems and needed less mowing. Over fed lawns tend to attract more insects and diseases. A win win for the lawn, the mower of the lawn and the Indian River.
New gardeners in our area want to plant summer vegetables. Many vegetables, especially tomatoes, will drop their flowers when the weather is too hot. Pollination of tomato flowers is limited by daytime temperatures (above 85°F), and high nighttime temperatures (above 70°F). No pollination happens at these temperatures which means no tomatoes. This is true of many types of vegetables typically planted in the summer garden.
If you must plant vegetables The University of Florida’s recommendations for planting in June are boniato, calabaza, and chayote. In case you are not familiar with these vegetables. Boniato is a tropical Sweet Potato, Calabaza and Chayote are tropical squash. I grow herbs in the summer, Basil and Rosemary will last through until Fall, I find Thyme and Dill eventually burn up in the heat.
A fun gardening pastime in summer is enjoying the flowers on the native plants that thrive in our heat. The Jamaican Caper loves the heat and produces some unusual flowers. Below is a Gallardia, another Treasure Coast native.