The days in June that topped 120 F this year were unusual, an early taste of what gardeners can expect in July. Historically, Coachella Valley temperatures reach their peak in July, sometimes accompanied by more humidity than desert residents typically experience.
While the heat limits outdoor activities, you can’t ignore your garden. Most important is water. Make sure all irrigation systems are working. Deep-water trees, including palms that respond well to slow, deep irrigation.
What to expect
- Add mulch. It looks great and cools plant roots, reduces soil temperatures and helps the soil retain moisture.
- You may need to water annuals and vegetable gardens daily, especially if they are in containers like pots.
- Plan to weed. Other plants might be resting, but you can count on weeds to grow rapidly.
- Tomatoes will not fruit in the high summer heat. Take care of the plants, give them shade and food and they will give you an early crop with fall’s cooler temperatures.
What to plant
Summer weather welcomes planting or transplanting palms and cacti.
Earnest desert home gardeners have found success planting these vegetable seeds no later than the last two weeks of July:, Armenian cucumbers, beans, melons, pumpkins, sunflowers, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatillo and winter squash.
Sources: “Lush and Efficient Gardening; Desert-Friendly Landscaping in the Coachella Valley,” by Coachella Valley Water District and “Month by Month Planting Guide for the Coachella Valley” by Palm Springs High School Sustainable Garden Club.