By Brent Gray
Remove any dead wood or weak branches on crepe myrtles so new growth will be vigorous and show good form. Cut back fast growing shrubs, such as eleagnus, ligustrum, and photinia, as needed. Prune spring-flowering shrubs after their blooms have faded or they need to be reshaped or to have an errant branch removed.
Feed plants with an acid-forming fertilizer, such as 11-5-5; the same product can also be used on camellias, gardenias and blueberries. Apply as directed on the label. If the leaves are yellow with green veins, apply iron chelate, or treat the surrounding soil with aluminum sulfate.
Avoid fertilizing or spraying during extreme heat or drought. When plants are under stress, the leaves may be damaged. Water well the day before spraying, and apply pesticides only when temperatures do not exceed 90 degrees.
Roses, annuals, and perennials need a boost after the first round of flowering. Apply a cup of granular fertilizer (5-10-10) per 5 x 5 foot square area or water every two weeks with a soluble fertilizer until new vigorous growth is apparent.
Another hot weather crop you can plant now is chayote squash. Folk on the Gulf Coast call it meliton or mirliton. This member of the squash family grows a pear shaped, green fruit with one very large seed inside. Plants are started by wrapping the entire squash in newspaper and storing it in a dry place out of the sun. Garage floors are the most often used places. Once the plant emerges from the fruit the whole squash is planted. Each vine can grow 25 feet and is generally trellised on a fence, old clothes line, or other structure. The fruit is used like any other winter squash, but can also be used to make mild flavored, pale colored pies.
Vine crops have not been setting fruit very well with all the recent rain. Bees and other pollinating insects do not fly as much when rain is falling. Fruit set should happen again when the rain stops.
Bulb onions should be removed from the garden when the tops fall over. Leaving the bulb on the ground in wet conditions is an invitation for fungi and bacteria to invade the tissue. Cut the roots and top from the bulb and put it somewhere dry where moving air can flow over it.