Six gardening activities for July

1. Vegetable Garden: The timing always feels a bit strange, but this is actually the month to renew your vegetable garden for the fall harvest season. From seed, plant snap and lima beans, sweet corn, Swiss chard, cucumbers, summer and winter squash (my favorite), black-eyed peas, okra, cantaloupe, pumpkin and watermelon. For transplants, it’s the right time for tomatoes and peppers.

2. Tomatoes: Be sure to plant determinate varieties with reputations for heat survival. (Spot the clues in their names.) My favorites are surefire, solar fire, solar flare, celebrity, heatwave, sunmaster, and BHN444 (healthy surprise).

3. Water: After the crazy rains of this year, it’s a little hard to predict the type of weather that’s coming our way this month. In the event that we return to more normal weather patterns, your plants will need water to survive. Not just a splash on the surface… but a profound watering. This will give them a more established root system and a better reservoir to draw from. Try to water on a 4 to 5 day schedule. Don’t run automatic sprinkler systems during the day. (Loss to evaporation is too great.) And if it rains, just sit back and enjoy watching your garden grow . . . all by itself.

4. Mulch: Keep all flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and trees mulched. This will conserve water, cool the root zone and generally relieve heat stress.

5. Mow High: Choose the highest setting for your mower. Longer grass blades will help shade the roots and conserve water.

6. Survive!  Want to avoid heatstroke? Three rules for central Texas gardeners: a. Wear effective sunscreen and a large brimmed hat. b. Garden early in the morning. c. Drink gallons upon gallons of water. Happy gardening everyone!

If you have a question for Chris, send it via email to  Or mail a postcard to It’s About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748.

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