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as the heat climbs

This past week, I’ve been trying, in little bits and pieces, to get the garden ready for summer. Finish mulching, finish planting. I still have some potted annuals and even a few perennials lying about ready to be transplanted that I’m watering sometimes two times a day to keep them from completely drying out.

This is the time of year when I start wondering why I like plants in containers at all! I really adore beautiful ceramic containers and last year added some metal feeding troughs and painted a few cheap wood and ceramic containers I got at home depot. The containers themselves add color and architecture to my otherwise wild garden. In the summer, though, it’s all I can do to keep them watered and presents problems when we take some of our frequent, extended trips out of town (presumably to someplace cooler!).

Nevertheless, I still like figuring out how to make beautiful container plantings and how to do them well here. In Texas, because it’s so hot, container soil composts very fast in the summer and sometimes flatten about 4 to 6 inches. This compacts the soil and creates problems for plants like like a lot of breathing room in their roots. I’ve taken the task of figuring out how to make my own fast-draining and longer-lasting container mix, which means using less compost and humusy stuff, which is usually in a lot of store-bought organic mixes. But also realizing a faster-draining mix will make me have to water even more! It’s a never-ending experiment.

In the rest of the garden, some things wilted beyond repair this week. I had to water my purple coneflowers twice to keep them from wilting. I normally don’t water my St. Augustine lawn very much but after 2 weeks of 90-plus degree temps without rain, it started to curl and look desperate.

In spite of all this, I’ve taken advantage of the heat to realize it’s time to slow down and plan my fall garden. I have a lot of changes to make, new beds to think about, and more perennials to invest into the garden. I’m considering it more of a luxury–the space to stop working so much in the garden and spending more time researching, learning, planning. From here on out, all the outdoor work is really about keeping things going, water, mulch, occasional weeding and most of all keeping the bugs at bay!