Whether you are hoping for a big harvest, a beautiful landscape, or a little stress relief, knowing the when and how of gardening will help you be a success. Use these timely garden tips to eliminate some of the guesswork. For more gardening tips, check out Melinda's gardening books.
As the summer heats up and the rains cease, it's important to set your watering routine. Apply about 1 inch of water a week to all plantings, including established trees. Apply water in early morning to reduce disease caused by wet foliage at night, leaf burn due to wet leaves midday, and moisture loss due to evaporation. Consider using a watering wand or drip irrigation system to water the soil without wetting the foliage. This puts the water where it is needed and helps reduce the risk of disease.
Holes in your hosta leaves? There is an eco-friendly solution to the problem - beer. Slugs are the most likely culprit. Set out shallow pans, sunk into the ground and fill with beer. The slugs are attracted to the fermenting yeast, crawl inside and drown. Or lay a half-filled bottle on its side. The slugs will crawl in the opening go for the beer and drown. Plus, you have a built in cover preventing the rain from washing away the beer bait. Tuck the containers under and between plants to keep your garden looking beautiful and tidy.
Gardening Tips for Flowers
Ground ivy, quackgrass and bindweed are perennial weeds that can quickly take over your garden. Hand pulling does not usually work on these deeply rooted plants. Cultivation just breaks the plants into smaller pieces that can start lots of new plants. Use Roundup, Finale or another total vegetation killer to control these pesky weeds. These products kill the tops and roots of the weeds and any growing plant they touch. Several applications may be needed to control bindweed as well as other tough and established weeds.
A gardener shared a nifty way of applying total vegetation killer to weeds without harming nearby plants. Simply attach sponges to the clasping ends of tongs. Dip the sponges in a total vegetation killer. Clasp the weed leaf between the sponges and pull. Label the tongs "for Herbicide Use only" and store in the garage or shed.
Keep planting as long as you have space, time and plants. Give July transplants extra attention during dry hot spells. Mulch new plantings to conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures cool. Label, map and record new plantings. This will make spring cleanup and weeding much easier.
Gardening Tips for Edibles
It seems that summer is always well on its way before I finish planting my garden. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time to plant vegetables. Fill empty spaces with short season crops like beans, carrots, chard, peas, beets and radishes. They have plenty of time in most areas for seeds to germinate, grow and produce before the first fall frost.
Pick summer squash, such as zucchini, when the fruits are 6 to 8 inches long, or 3 to 6 inches in diameter for the round scalloped types. Keep picking to keep the plants producing.
Continue picking leaf lettuce as the outer leaves reach 4 to 6 inches. Replant for a fall harvest.
Trees, Shrubs and Roses
Don't forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs throughout the season. Check the soil twice a week in sandy soils and every 5 to 10 in clay soils. Even established trees and shrubs benefit from a thorough watering during extended dry periods. You may need to prioritize plantings if your community imposes watering restrictions. New plantings and container gardens should receive the highest priority. Moisture-loving plants like birch, European mountain ash and hydrangeas should be next on the list. This will help you focus your efforts on the plants in greatest need.
Continue to deadhead roses. Remove only individual flowers in the cluster as they fade. Once all the flowers in the cluster have bloomed, prune back the flower stem to the first 5-leaflet leaf. Deadhead single-flowered roses back to the first 5-leaflet leaf. This encourages stouter and stronger branch development.
The middle of the growing season is usually peak pest time. The typical cool, wet weather of spring results in a variety of leaf spot, blight and fungal diseases. The hot weather of July and August helps insect populations quickly multiply. Monitor your plants for problems. Some plants seem to struggle every year no matter what you do. These may be good candidates for replacement. Make notes in your gardening journal on plants that should be replaced or the care provided to minimize future pest problems.
Lawns and Groundcovers
Continue pulling weeds in groundcover beds. The number of weeds begins to decrease as the groundcover becomes established and fills the planting bed. Spot treat quackgrass, bindweed and other difficult perennial weeds with a total vegetation killer such as Roundup or Finale. Cover weeds with a bottomed-out milk jug or wipe the weeds with the herbicide to avoid damage to your desirable plants.
Tips for Indoor Plants
Keep grooming and cleaning both indoor and outdoor plants. Indoor plants collect dust, pet dander and other airborne particles on their leaves. Cleaning removes it, allowing more light to reach the leaves. Outdoor plants may need an occasional cleaning from dust, splashing soil and such. Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe off glossy leaves. A soft cosmetic brush works well for removing debris from hairy-leafed plants.
The heat of midsummer often means houseplants, indoors and out, need a break from the heat. Make sure plants are well watered. Outdoor containers may need to be watered twice a day, or move them into a partially shaded area until the extreme heat has subsided. Indoor plants may need to be moved away from hot locations as well. Adjust watering to adapt to the changes in the environment.
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