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.
Seems we either have too much or not enough rain for the garden. Consider installing a rain barrel to capture rainfall for later use. Wood or plastic, you can find one that blends into the landscape while capturing rain from your roof. Use the rooftop collection to water containers, flower beds and other areas in your garden. You will be amazed at the amount of water you will save by capturing the rainfall that would normally end up in the storm sewer or overworking your sump pump.
Gardening Tips for Flowers
Now is a great time to mulch perennials. Recycle shredded leaves, evergreen needles or herbicide-free grass clippings into mulch in your garden. A thin layer (1 to 2 inches) of organic mulch helps conserve moisture, insulate plant roots from temperature extremes, reduce compaction, prevents erosion and reduces weeds. As a bonus, when the mulch breaks down, it adds organic matter to the soil, improving drainage in heavy soils and water holding capacity in sandy soils.
Inspect the upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems of plants for aphids, mites and plant bugs. These pests suck out plant juices, causing leaves to turn yellow and brown. Use a strong blast of water to dislodge any insects. Larger, more damaging populations may require the use of insecticidal soap. Read and follow all label directions before using.
Cool nights followed by warm humid days mean botrytis blight is causing leaf spot on peonies, tulips, pansies and other plants. Fortunately, it is not life threatening. Remove discolored plant parts as soon as they are discovered. A thorough clean up in fall, removing all dead diseased foliage, will help reduce the source of disease for next season.
Continue deadheading annuals and perennials to encourage more blooms. Harvest flowers for arrangements and drying. Experiment with different flower combinations. If they look good in the vase, they'll probably look good as planting partners in the garden.
Gardening Tips for Edibles
You still have time to add warm weather crops to your vegetable garden. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and melon all prefer the warmer soil and air temperature of early June.
Those in the far south can keep adding heat-tolerant vegetables like southern peas, okra and sweet potatoes. Or just keep harvesting earlier plantings and wait to put your next plantings in the ground in late summer or fall.
Allow the leaves (green fluffy growth) of asparagus to develop on the plants when you are finished harvesting. These leaves will help replenish the energy supply and keep the plant productive for seasons to come.
Place sticky traps in apples, pears and other fruit trees to monitor pest problems. Some gardeners find the traps provide adequate control for their gardening needs. Others use the traps to monitor pests and adjust their spray schedule to maximize benefits and minimize the number of sprays.
Trees, Shrubs and Roses
Northern gardeners and those in cooler climates can keep planting container and ball-and-burlapped shrubs. Both are available at nurseries and garden centers. Select healthy, well-shaped plants. Avoid shrubs with brown, speckled, or discolored leaves. These may have suffered drought stress or pest problems. Stressed shrubs take longer to establish and have a lower survival rate.
Southern gardeners may want to hold off until the cooler temperatures of fall to resume transplanting. Roses and other woody plants have a harder time recovering from transplanting during the extreme heat of summer.
Lawns and Groundcovers
Don't worry if you missed the Memorial Day fertilization. You can make that light application of fertilizer in early June to replace the nutrients used in spring, while preparing the lawn for the stressful summer ahead. Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite. Small amounts of nutrients are released as the plants need them throughout the summer. It also prevents fertilizer burn if a drought sets in and you are unable to water in the summer.
Low nitrogen slow release fertilizers are especially important for southern gardeners who choose to make a June fertilizer application to the lawn. This reduces the risk of damage caused by summer heat and drought. Or wait until fall to fertilize lawns that were fed in April.
Remove and destroy spotted leaves on lily-of-the-valley and pachysandra as they appear. Both plants are susceptible to leaf and stem spot diseases that can usually be controlled with proper sanitation.
Check winter creeper groundcover and other euonymus plantings for scale. These insects look like flecks of paint on the leaves and stems of the plants. Repeated attacks and large populations can weaken and even kill plantings. Treat infested plants with insecticidal soap or a light weight horticulture oil when the Japanese tree lilacs are in bloom. The bloom time and egg hatch coincide, making this tree the perfect reminder. The unseasonably warm spring in many parts of the country have the tree and insects out earlier than normal. Repeat with two more applications 10 to 12 days apart.
Tips for Indoor Plants
Many houseplants are finding their way into containers, window boxes and flower beds. Rex begonias, German ivy, pink polka dot, and Boston ferns are just a few houseplants you may find in an outdoor garden. You can purchase new plants at the florist or garden center or start a few from your existing houseplant collection. The latter will take a bit longer to get things growing, but half the fun of gardening is in the experience. Mark next year's calendar for March/April as a reminder to start propagating new plants for next summer's garden.
In the meantime, purchase new plants or move some of your excess plants into this summer's garden. At the end of the season you can take cuttings or move these plants indoors for your winter enjoyment and next summer's garden.
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