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IN THE GARDEN: Summer growing tips inside and outside

A grow light will keep your indoor plants healthy when you close your blinds to block out the summer heat and save on electricity. Photo by Martelle Luedecke

With the Texas summer heat rising, you might be closing your blinds and curtains to save on electricity and keep your homes cool. But what about the indoor plants that were accustomed to the indirect light from the window? Grow lights!

We’ve switched out some of our lightbulbs to grow lights. It’s working well. You don’t have to choose between cool comfort and healthy houseplants.

HELPFUL HINTS FOR HOT, DRY SUMMER

  • First, check water restrictions in your area.
  • Have you started composting? With the coming heat compost materials will break down to a wonderful fertilizer. You can put kitchen scraps such as coffee grounds and filters, the tops of celery, apple cores, orange peels, and crushed eggshells for starters and others like these. Crushed eggshells will cut up grub worms. Don’t use animal products such as grease or trimmings. Animal products break down SLOWLY and attract all kinds of unwanted varmints. You can also add dry leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, hay, and hedge clippings. If you are doing a pile, make sure to turn the pile at least once a week. If you are using a tub, rotate often.
  • Side note: Did y’all know they make “swamp cooler” vests for dogs? They work wonderfully.
  • In our gardens, we can have two types of insect pests: the ones that chomp away and the ones that suck juices from our plants. To deter these pests, mow around your garden. Keep your plants healthy with fertilizer and watering. After you have harvested all of the fruit and vegetables from the plant, remove the expired plant, throw it in your compost, or till it into the soil. Leaving the old plant continues to attract the chompers and suckers.
  • Keep an eye on your hummer feeders. The hot sun might be making rock candy at the bottom.
  • Water fruit and nut trees often and deeply to avoid fruit drop-off. Water in the early morning, long and deep. Never water in the middle of the day. If you water in the middle of the day in Texas, the water will get hot and act as a magnifying glass. You might fry or steam your fruit and nut trees. Gentle reminder: Your mulch should not touch the trunk of your tree. Leave approximately 6 inches of space between trunk and mulch.
  • When watering potted plants, make sure the water is getting to the roots. A good rule of thumb is 3 inches down. You can measure by sticking a wooden ruler into the soil, or a wooden dowel rod or a popsicle stick. Water deeply, then allow to completely dry to avoid root rot. Repeat.
  • While you have your ruler out, double check the depths of your mulch. Is your mulch 3-4 inches deep? If not, time to add some on the top.
  • Prune herbs to encourage growth. For instance, you want to prune your basil before the flowers emerge. Pruning your mints makes for some wonderful sun tea. Isn’t it fun to cut sprigs, place them in water on the kitchen windowsill, and watch them grow? Sure makes the kitchen smell yummy, too.
  • Yellow cucumbers will have an intense flavor, so harvest your cucumbers while they are green and just the right size for your use. Add dill and vinegar for pickles. Or, slice and freeze for your water bottle.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden!

Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

"In the Garden" is written by father-daughter duo Bill and Martelle Luedecke and Bill Luedecke. Contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com. Contact Bill at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.

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