Spring Garden Tips

Melinda's Gardening Tips for Late July

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.

Growing Green

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.

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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.

A Fabulous Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Fall Landscape Care in 5 Easy Steps


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.

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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.

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Lawns and Groundcovers

If you allowed your lawn to go dormant, keep it that way until the cooler weather and rains return. Putting your lawn in and out of dormancy is stressful and can eventually kill your lawn.

Those watering should continue to water thoroughly and only when the top few inches of soil are crumbly or footprints are left behind when walking across the lawn. Be sure to water lawns early in the day to conserve moisture and reduce the risk of disease. Apply enough water to moisten the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Wait until the top few inches are crumbling and moist before watering again. Thorough and less frequent watering will result in deeper more drought resistant grass.

Further help your heat and drought stressed lawns through the dog days of summer. Do not use weed killers at this time of year since they may damage the stressed grass. Plus, new weeds usually fill the vacant spots left by the treated weeds.

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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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