Greens bolt and wither
Searing heat and glare above
Seek shade and cool water
July in California is too hot to spend much time outside. Early morning and late evening make working in the garden far more comfortable, but leave most of the heavy work to the plants as they produce leaves, stems, and fruit in response to all that sunlight. The best things you can do for your garden in July is irrigate properly and monitor plants for pests and diseases.
Monitoring for pests and diseases
You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Well, here are a few helpful ideas that work to prevent problems in the garden before they have a chance to get started:
It’s all too easy to forget about the trees in your landscape, but an extended drought like ours can be devastating. Trees are a big investment of time and space, so be sure to include them in your watering plan. The only exception is our CA live oaks - they are used to hot, dry summers and watering them only makes them susceptible to disease.
On scorching hot days, container plants may need a drink practically every day. Just be sure to avoid overwatering - a drowning plant looks an awful lot like a plant that’s dying of thirst. An inexpensive moisture meter ($10-15) can help prevent irrigation errors.
There is no fixed magic formula for watering plants in the garden. There are simply too many variables, such as plant variety and age, soil type, fertilization practices, sun and wind exposure, overall plant health and life stage - you get the idea. The best way to assure that your garden plants are getting the water they need is to learn as much as you can about the specific varieties and their water needs. This information will help you to provide them with the growing conditions they need.
If you still have a lawn, go ahead and let it turn brown over the summer. The root system will stay alive with very little water, and it will come back in the fall after temperatures go down. [I use water from my washing machine with no negative results and a lawn that stays green far longer.]
As you lounge in the shade with an iced tea, remember that July is an excellent time to consider what cool season crops can be added in fall!