No more rain!

Lisa K. Hair
Master gardener
Plants are waiting to go into the ground until it is less soggy.

Ok, whoever did their rain dance last fall so their newly built pond would fill quickly can stop dancing. Now. Actually yesterday would be better. And I’m willing to bet that they are probably one of those people who hate heat and sunshine too, right? I thought so. I wish they would go stand in a different corner of the world for the rest of the month please. I still have plants on my front porch that need to be in the ground by now, but my garden is way to wet to work the soil!

Seriously, 5.69” of sky liquid for the month?! Our ordinary yearly rainfall is about 33”, but since this time last year we have had over 41” of it. I’m beginning to get webbed feet, and my dog’s fur is growing moss! What do we do with all of our wonderful xeriscaping now that we live in the Amazon rainforest? Good question, as my Salvia and Mexican Sage have drowned.

Right now after lots of rain has fallen comes our heat. So far, it has been a slow increase, but what if suddenly our June heat appears, coupled with our increased humidity? Well, I suspect that everyone will have frizzy hair, soggy socks, and sticky shirts. But our gardens will probably get powdery mildew, rust, and black spot. Don’t worry too much about things we have no control over, but notice garden opportunities now. There’s a patch in your backyard that stays wet most of the time? Plant a tree like Globe Willow or Pond Cypress in it where they will help dry it out.

Our lawns also have chances for improvement too! Where you notice a wet or muddy area, fill it in with some good top soil and level it out. Your Bermuda grass will fill it in shortly. Bermuda will be growing great guns now, so mowing and keeping it short will help get the soil to dry up faster, and keep ticks to a minimum as well. I’ve already removed two from my legs this year, so they are already active.

Plants are waiting to go into the ground until it is less soggy.

As you mow, you may be tempted to just plow through all the tall, thick blades and be done with it. Actually this is damaging it. You should never cut off more than 1/3 of the height at a time. This gives the roots time to produce new growth, and it makes it easier to push too. Plus you won’t have to rake up as many clippings!

As your soil dries up, watch for areas with moss. These are places that receive little sunshine, and are an opportunity to plant fescue seed before it gets too warm out. Fescue needs more water and a taller mowing height than Bermuda, but Bermuda hates shade, so it’s a good match.

Your Crape Myrtles and Zinnias may be showing signs of Powdery Mildew about now, so thin out Crape branches, removing all of last year’s dead, and thin your bedding plants for good air circulation. Mildew loves warm humid days and cool nights without much wind! Roses should have their centers open as well to fight mildew and Black Spot. Geraniums may contract mildew too.

If your spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths did not come back well this spring, start looking to replace them this fall. Colorblends is a company that specializes in taking the guesswork out of fall bulb selection, with hundreds of varieties of bulbs to choose from. K. van Bourgondien is another company that has good quality fall bulbs. Both companies have some unique plants that you might consider for next spring.

I know that I’ve preached mulching to conserve water, and even though your soil may still not need watering, continue to mulch. We may get hit with blast furnace heat soon, and it will be wise to be ready for it.

That’s all for this month. Now get out there and get your hands dirty! As always, happy gardening!

Plants are waiting to go into the ground until it is less soggy.

Lisa Hair has her Horticulture degree from OSU OKC, and is a master gardener with the Multi County Master Gardeners group here in Shawnee. She recently retired after being the gardener for Oklahoma Baptist University for the last 18 years, and is on the Shawnee Beautification Committee.