Southern Summer-time Slowdown
Many people stereotype southerners as slow or living a slower paced life. With the heat and humidity of the South, it’s not laziness, it’s survival. The biggest garden chores in the summer are watering and weeding. You can plant year-round in the South but a lot of people hold off planting in the summer. Summer heat is stressful for plants. It takes a lot of water for plants in their first year in the garden and especially so in the summer. You will always have a “first” summer for any plant in your garden. This is often the most critical time in getting a plant acclimated to your garden.
The other main chore of the summer is weeding. Tree seedlings can soon turn your garden into a forest. I also make sure any invasive exotic plants that are seeding into the garden are removed immediately. My definition of a weed is “a plant out of place”. Some ornamental plants are appreciated when they seed in and fill in a space. Others can take over a planned garden. When I first moved into my current home, I removed every invasive exotic plant from my rear garden. When I was done, I only had one tree left. It was a jungle of invasive plants. In many urban areas, it is a constant battle keeping out these types of plants that someone in the past thought it was a good idea to plant. Even if you don’t have them in your yard, they often seed in from the neighbors. Education is important. Gently encourage your neighbors to also remove invasive plants. They may or may not listen. The more people who understand the damage done to the environment by invasive exotic plants, the better for future generations.
During the summer, take notes on any time period that your garden doesn’t seem to have blooming flowers. You can sit in the comfort of your air conditioning and plan for buying plants to fill those gaps. You might notice that you have too much of one color and not of another. You might find areas where you have a lot of weeds because your garden isn’t planted thick enough to discourage weeds. Sit back with your favorite cold beverage and look at the plant catalogs and online information to plan what you want to plant at the first sign of cooler weather in the fall. If you can plant early in the fall, you will get some good new growth before winter and the plant will be further established by the time next summer rolls around. Then when the heat and humidity of the next summer has you feeling lazy, you can look at your garden with more enjoyment and less work.