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Pruning oak trees in the summer poses a significant risk due to the threat of oak wilt, a deadly fungal disease. It is primarily spread by beetles that are attracted to the fresh wounds on oaks created during pruning. The beetles carry the spores of the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, leading to rapid infection. 

Oak wilt disrupts a tree’s vascular system, causing leaves to wilt and eventually killing the tree. To prevent the spread of the disease, it is crucial to avoid pruning oaks during the growing season, especially in the spring and early summer when the beetles are most active. By delaying pruning until the dormant season, typically in late fall or winter, the risk of infection is significantly reduced, helping to preserve the health and longevity of these vital trees.

JUNE GARDEN DUTIES

Clean your bird feeders. Seeds in moist weather can get stuck in crevices of bird feeders and mold. Molded seed will make our feathered friends sick. If you have wooden bird feeders, here’s a little trick: Apply the same oil that you would use to season a cutting board.

If you plan to have Halloween pumpkins, start preparing your plot in the garden. Plant pumpkins for October harvest the week of July 4.

Late this month, set out fall tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in preparation for fall planting.

Harvest your vegetables often to encourage more production and enjoy the freshest produce.

Spread diatomaceous earth in your gardens to reduce fleas, ticks, and chiggers. We’ve got enough pesky critters. Be bite-free while you are pruning and gardening. Gentle reminder: Diatomaceous earth is kid- and pet-friendly. Also, if we get a gully washer (drizzle and heavy morning dew are OK), you’ll need to reapply after the rain.

Build up your soil with a seaweed-based application such as Medina Plus. Seaweed-based fertilizers are a good source of nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

Baby bottle brushes work wonderfully in cleaning your hummingbird feeder. If you have a feeder that the hummers haven’t gone to recently, check to make sure the sugar water (4:1 ratio) hasn’t fermented in the sun.

MULCH

And, of course, you knew we were going to say it: “Mulch, mulch, mulch!” 

Phil of Horseshoe Bay wrote to ask: “I have been applying mulch since I started reading your column. How do I know when to replenish the mulch that is already in the bed?” 

Great question, Phil. Here are some guidelines to mulching:

Apply your mulch 3-4 inches thick, leaving a space of 3 inches in diameter around the plant/base of bush or shrub, 6 inches of space around trees. If you have mulch already on the soil, check the depth with a ruler. Mulch will decompose over time, adding nutrients to the ground. Therefore, you need to check the depth of your mulch throughout the month. If your mulch is 2 inches in depth, add another inch for top-off. 

Mulching helps our plants in many ways, including: 

  • keeping the ground cooler or warmer depending on the season;
  • decreasing loss of moisture from evaporation;
  • adding nutrients over time;
  • minimizing unwanted plants that would compete for water/nutrients;
  • and protecting the roots.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

“In the Garden” is written by daughter-father gardening team Martelle and Bill Luedecke. If you have gardening questions, contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or luedeckephotography@gmail.com or Bill at 512-577-1463 or bill@texasland.net.