Gardening in hot weather»
• Summer heat has settled in; finish the chores in the cool of the morning or late evening. Plants don’t like being fussed with midday when the bees are visiting flowers or tomatoes are putting on fruit. The exception is weeds — dig them anywhere in the landscape at any time.
• Got brown lawn patches? Heat, lack of watering or inefficient watering may be the cause. First, don’t assume the irrigation system is functioning properly at 2 a.m. if it hasn’t been checked recently. Watch each zone and adjust, repair and replace heads if needed to correct inadequate water coverage.
Vegetables and herbs
• Harvest a few new potatoes (an immature tuber with soft skin that doesn’t need peeling). Carefully scratch away the soil at the base of the plant, feel and pull it out gently. Push back soil into place for further development.
• Harvest beets about 60 days after planting. Smaller beets, 2 to 3 inches across, are delicious roasted in the oven or in foil on the grill. Use the green leafy tops like chard or mustard greens. Beets will store in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
• When leaves are six inches or larger, cut the entire Swiss chard plant at the soil line, or remove outer leaves over time, careful not to damage the small bud at the center of the plant. The plant will continue to produce new leaves all summer. Store in sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator.
• Dig carrots early, or wait until fully developed, about 70 to 80 days after planting. Be sure to continue mounding soil on carrot shoulders to prevent greening.
• Try sowing warm-season vining Malabar spinach — not a true spinach, but a specialty green that tastes like mild Swiss chard.
• Continue direct seeding basil, Swiss chard, green beans, summer squash and carrots. Use floating row covers (sold at garden centers) to keep the seed bed moist. Water twice a day or more so seeds won’t dry out.
• Keep a close eye on vegetable and fruit plants. Temperatures in the 90s coupled with our low humidity can affect blossom production and fruit set. Cool crops often taste bitter and send up flower stalks (bolt) in the heat of summer. Pull and toss disease-free crops in the compost pile.
• Cool season crops can be seeded again later in the summer when temperatures cool down.
• Renew mulch as needed. Mulching keeps the soil cool and reduces the splashing of water that may carry early blight fungal spores onto tomato leaves.
• Water at the base of plants; avoid overhead watering unless spider mites are a problem. A good spray of water reduces their numbers on all landscape plants, plus vegetables. Spray early in the day so foliage dries.
• Adult Japanese beetles have emerged in several neighborhoods along the Front Range. Their oneyear life cycle can be managed if timely attention is given to treating both adults and their offspring (the eggs and larvae).
• Japanese beetle adults are good fliers that can fly up to five miles, so controls may not be entirely helpful if other lawns (where they lay their eggs) are not treated.
• Use different control options for Japanese beetle larvae and adults; there is no single-best method for permanent elimination. Unfortunately, they are probably here to stay and in time will spread out to other neighborhoods.
• They feed and mate heavily during the heat of the day, starting at the tops of plants. They favor roses, Virginia creeper, grape vines, lindens, basil, beans and scores of other landscape and agricultural plants.
• Keep adult beetle numbers down by flicking them into soapy water early in the morning or late day when they are sluggish.
• Japanese beetle traps sold in garden centers and online should only be used for monitoring. They do not offer effective control — they bring more beetles to the trap and adjacent plants.
• Cultural practices may help reduce numbers: dry lawns are less desirable for females to lay eggs (they prefer moist lawns); tall grass is more difficult for females to lay eggs; row covers or netting over desirable plants should keep them out (careful when covering plants that need to be pollinated).
• Over the counter pesticides may repel or directly kill Japanese beetles. As with any spray, read all labels for their effectiveness and impact on beneficial insects and pollinators.
• It is illegal to spray insecticides on plants in flower that honey bees are visiting.
• Get a jump on next year’s generation of beetles by treating lawn areas where they lay their eggs now through early fall. Treat turf with insecticides or biological products as outlined on the link.
• For the best management practices from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, visit colorado.gov.
Cut the entire Swiss chard plant at the soil line when the leaves are 6 inches or longer.