Sunday, August 17, 2008

Garden Happenings! Week of August 11

Hello again,

Gardening is Happening in Skillin's Country!

In this post we will be letting you know what we are doing or what we hear is going on out there in our local gardening world.

We will be updating this post with quick supplements all through the week!So check here frequently!

If you would like to contribute just drop us a quick note at OR leave a comment at the end of this post.

We would LOVE any tips OR questions from you.

The above picture is from our good friend, KCB, the soul of Maine gardening, who writes:

here is a pic you may want to post. I was so very excited. The critter was found on one of the wonderful swamp milk weeds I purchased from a favorite family owned garden center on Rte 88.............". Thanks KCB and just to let you all know the 'critter" is a monarch butterfly larvae which love to inhabit milk weeds. Soon, the larvae will "morph" into a beautiful butterfly!

August 17:

KCB checks in with typically great observations:

I also really loved the ‘plug’ within the Heuchera piece. I have to admit, I am a garden center junkie and Skillin’s has the best selection of Coral Bells. The subtle shading in the scalloped leaves make for great specimens. I recently paired some of the Green Spice with some existing Stella D’Ora Daylilies. The contrast worked! I’m not a big fan of day lilies when not in bloom so I needed something to draw the eye away. ……….

I have an exciting gardening tip to share. I had to see if it worked first and it did!

I have a landscape with a circular driveway bed with daylilies, sedum and hosta. Each year the hosta become a favorite snack of our dear friends the deer. Since I’m only there weekly, sprays weren’t the answer. This year I installed chives among the hosta. I use chives quite regularly as an ornamental. Long after the blooms of purple puffs are gone, the succulent spiked foliage is great filler. The spike/broad combination of the hosta and chives worked aesthetically. Better still, did the job! No munching. I do not know what took me so long, I’ve been working this place for 4 years. Feel free to share this tip!

Thanks KCB; check out KCB's contributions often here at the Skillin's Garden Log!

August 16:

We have had a lot of rain lately but today I noticed that I had some very thirsty containers of flowers and vegetables. Any containers with mature plants are full of roots at this point and it does not take long for these thirsty roots to pull available water out of the soil.

Check your containers today and while you are at feed those hungry plants with a great natural fertilizer like Fish and Seaweed fertilizer by Neptune's Harvest!

August 15:

Mid to late summer always uncovers some bare or thin spots in the lawn--now is a perfect time to fix those bare or thin patches by "overseeding" these areas with some grass seed. You may apply grass seed by hand or if you are overseeding a large area by spreader. Once the seed is down scratch it with a metal rake or cultivator. Sprinkle some Grass Seed Accelerator (compressed paper pellets sold right here at Skillin's) on top of the raked in seed and water daily!

What grass seed to use? We carry several great blends here at Skillin's; my favorite is the Black Beauty blend by Jonathan Green.

I am busy patching some bare areas this month. I have two larger areas that are not bare but thin. Later this fall I am going to spread some seed over that whole area for a true "overseed".

Also later this fall I am going to apply Miracal by Jonathan Green--which is a great natural product to neutralize my soil's pH and also another great way to get valuable calcium into the soil. Calcium is so important for plant material and many of our soils here in Maine are deficient of calcium. Miracal is a BETTER product than regular lime and we highly recommend the product here at Skillin's!

August 13:

I was speaking to one of our many landscape professional customers this morning and she reminded me of some good gardening advice I wanted to pass along.

It is so great when perennial and other garden beds have great FOLIAGE features in them. This particular customer was buying some heuchera this morning. Heuchera is a wonderful and very hardy perennial that features many different varieties within its wide family. The leaves of each variety can be STRIKING and really create great visual interest all season long. Such contributions from your plants can be so important in wet seasons like this one where our flowers suffer. And it seems like there are less perennial flowers this time of year anyway so the more foliage interest the better! Our good friend KCB has written about shrubs and perennials that create great foliage interest for many months right here at the Skillin's Garden Log. Let us show you some great plants with foliage interest.

We just recieved some more high bush blueberries in our nursery today. High bush blueberries are awesome plants. Besides the obvious benefits of the great blueberry fruit, blueberries typically turn different hues of red in the fall and this really adds interest to the garden!

August 12:

The vegetable gardeners are NOT giving up! We are selling seeds day after day even though it has been a challenging vegetable year with all the rain and thick humid air. Don't give up! There are plenty of crops that can be planted for a great second harvest: lettuce, broccoli, swiss chard. There are many possibilities!

August 11:

This question about lavender from customer LL:

"When is the best time to cut down Lavender--also to separate?"

Our answer: "You can always cut out dead or dying growth but the best time to do a drastic cut back is in the early Spring. Actually early Spring is a great time to do a cutback of several inches. Because lavender grows from a single stalk it does not lend itself well to being separated."
Please don't hesitate to send your garden questions to us at or through the comment section at the end of this post!

Good friend Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited in Rockport Maine recently published some good information and advice regarding garden diseases. Here is a reprint of what he wrote:

Powdery mildew, as its name suggests, resembles a white powdery mildew on leaf surfaces of plants. Leaves eventually turn yellow, then brown, then die. Although not fatal to plants, it makes plants unattractive and may weaken plants over several years. Annuals that may be infected most commonly include zinnias snapdragon, and verbena. Perennial flowers that may be infected commonly include delphinium, lungwort, and garden phlox. Choosing cultivars (cultivated varieties) resistant to this disease is one of the easiest methods of control.

Unlike most such fungus diseases spread by microscopic structures called “spores”, this one actually is inhibited not promoted by rain and wet leaves. High humidity will favor this disease, so keeping plants spaced properly will promote air circulation and lower humidity around plants.

Least toxic controls shown effective include horticultural oil and baking soda. Least toxic sprays closely related to baking soda are registered for use on this disease. Make sure and begin applications at the onset of the disease, often in late June or July, and every two weeks after. We highly recommend either Serenade Disease Control or Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 (Garden Fungicide by Safer that contains sulfur also works well. All are organic and effective.

Gray mold is perhaps the most common disease of flowers, attacking many species under conditions of high moisture and cool temperatures. It too is well named, appearing as a gray mold on any plant part but primarily on old and dying leaves and flowers. It begins as water-soaked spots, growing into the gray fuzzy coating.

The spores on this disease as with most fungi are spread by wind and splashing water. So one control is to prevent splashing water, such as watering near the base of plants with drip irrigation. Water early so the foliage can dry during the day and not go into the night wet. Allow plenty of air circulation around plants, and remove any diseased flowers or leaves.

THE CURE? ORGANIC? Any spray containing Neem Oil like Bonide Rose 3 in 1 care or K Neem by Organica or Serenade. The Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 will also control Insects and Mites on Roses and Flowers!

Roses are one of the most popular and widely grown flowers of all time in temperate areas, and black spot is one of their most important and common diseases. According to a University of Maine Extension leaflet, this disease begins as black spots and so the name. These are most prevalent on upper leaf surfaces, and are up to one-half inch across. Leaves turn yellow around the spots, then all yellow and fall off. Spots may also appear on rose canes, first purple and then turning black.

The black spot fungal disease requires at least seven hours of wet conditions for infection, and is inhibited above about 85 degrees (F). So although you may not be able to keep plants hot in the garden, if you can keep them dry through proper watering and air circulation you can minimize the disease. Grow plants in an open and sunny location. Avoid watering during cloudy weather. Allow plenty of space between plants for air circulation.

Black spot overwinters in fallen leaves and infected canes, so pruning out infections and raking up leaves at the end of the season also will go a long way towards providing control. Fungicides can be used during the growing season.

THE CURE? ORGANIC? As we just noted any spray containing Neem Oil like Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 Care or K Neem by Organica or Serenade. The Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 also kills insects and mites on roses and flowers!

Check out Plants Unlimited at 629 Commercial Street (Route1) Rockport, Maine 04856 or at 1-800-830-7754 or at

1 comment:

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