Thoughts on June

The summer is starting to settle in, and it is probably my least favorite time of year, save for those legendary summer evenings around sunset.  I have already started a drought tolerance regime in the garden.  Deep soaking, and then extended periods between deep soakings.  I will let the plants go as far as they can without water, as this will toughen them up for July and August.

I haven’t had a lot of time to grow vegetables this year, so most of the beds are somewhat weedy and ready to be cleared.  I hope to plant an assortment of beans soon; this will be another test to see which varieties of bean hold up best in the heat and dry conditions.   Many will fail, but the few that make it will be saved for next summer.  It is about time to start collecting seeds again from the winter and spring veggies that bolted and flowered.  I have my eyes on some lettuce, onion, arugala, peas, among a few others.

June is a great time for wild seed collecting.  Many of the springs wildflowers are starting to set seed, as are the native perennials and shrubs.  Caesalpinnia gilliesii is one of my favorite seeds to start collecting this time of year.   The seeds germinate quickly and thrive in the heat, when provided an occasional deep watering.  The young seedlings can grow rapidly and over the years turn into a stunning (especially when pruned) deciduous shrub or small tree with an exotic tropical look.  C. gilliesii, also known as the Desert Bird of Paradise, is a sibling of the popular Pride of Barbados and the flowers, though not as vibrantly colored as “Pride”, are stunning in and of themselves.

Caesalpinnia gilliesii
Things to do for June:
-turn compost

-clear bermuda grass (grr!) from spent vegetable beds

-harvest seeds (I use a plastic storage box designed for screws, nuts, and bolts and paper labels to organize the collected seeds)
– limited planting (not knowing what the summer will bring means planting only the toughest plants).  This entails Yuccas, Agaves, cacti, Texas Mountain Laurels, and the toughest native perennials available.  (I try to find time to plant herbs and veggies though, but only what I know I can provide water for in limited and controlled quantities).

-drink a lot of water, and enjoy the shade where possible.