Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June (late June) Garden Talks

Hello again,

As I write this post we are in the midst of a warm sunny stretch here in Skillin's Country. Spring has officially turned into summer. Lilac flowering is over now replaced by beautiful blossoms like the Bridal Wreath Spirea.

And the ground is dry! I noticed earlier that my often "persnickety" Endless Summer Blue Hydrangea is marking the beginning of summer by telling me "hey you just transplanted me last fall and my location may be more shady but when the weather is dry I still need regular waterings." True (although hot days cause the Endless Summer to flag even when the soil is still somewhat wet). But let's lead off with:

*Skillin's Moisture Meter:

New outdoor plantings (of vegetables, annuals, perennials, and certainly shrubs and trees) require 1 inch of water per week optimally spread out over at least two deep waterings per week. A "deep watering" is defined as a slow soaking of your plant's roots.

(More detail about "deep waterings": A soaking rain which brings a half inch of rain or more qualifies as a deep watering. In lieu of rain a deep watering can be accomplished by letting water run slowly out of a watering can or the end of your hose into each plant's root system or by having a soaker hose at work for several hours twice a week. In "non soaker hose situations", pause on your watering if the water starts to run off; let the water soak in and then begin to water again. Repeat this process several times and move onto the next plant. For larger trees and shrubs (and if you do not have a soaker hose) merely set a hose against the tree or shrub for 1 to 2 hours and let the water almost trickle into the ground and down into the plant's root system. Again if there is runoff, pause and let the water soak in. )

This Week's Moisture Meter Readings:

Quality rain (2).

Deep waterings required by you: (0).

Our new plantings need water! We have had warm sunny days and quite a few breezy days. That being said good soaking rains of Thursday the 23rd and Friday the 24th have done the job for the next few days. Make a note to survey your plants on this coming Tuesday and Wednesday as warm sunny weather is forecast for the beginning of this coming week!

If you have met the quality watering requirement for this past week, congratulations! If not, pay careful attention this coming week and beyond and make sure that your new plants get those required quality waterings!

Let us know if you have any watering questions!

*Slugs are out in abundance; living under larged leafed plants by day and chomping and tearing on fresh plants by night. Slugs can eat incredible amounts; your leaves will look torn. Slugs can easily be controlled by all natural Slug Magic (safe for pets and wildlife) sold right here at Skillin's.

*Mike's Must Have Perennial Selection for this Week:

Let's go with Cimicifuga (Bugbane) aka Snakeroot (found under Snakeroot in our perennial catalog).

The picture below is of the Brunette--my personal favorite. Other varieties have more green foliage. This is a great plant!

Cimicifuga Brunette

Why This is a Mike's Must Have Perennial:

I love the dark foliage of the Cimicifuga Brunette and the striking creamy white flowers. I have either the Brunette or White Pearl in a shade garden at my house. The plant prefers shade to part sun. This is a very hardy plant and can take up much space. Again the dark chocolate type foliage is a very rich look and the tall spiky flowers really stand out. The plant also has a nice fragrance!

This shade garden also features ligularia, brunnera and Solomon's Seal. All of these plants are very interesting and I would recommend any of them for a shade garden. They really "jazz up" a dark space!

*Want butterflies and hummingbirds? You can easily have them! We have dozens of flowering plants (big and small) that can be easily grown (hey check our Butterfly bushes!!).

*The neighborhood woodchucks are now out in abundance and those cute waddling woodchucks can devour a lot of freshly planted vegetables and flowers in your garden! Customer Nancy asked about woodchucks and here is how the conversation went:

"Do you have any ideas about getting rid of woodchucks/groundhogs and keeping them from cleaning out the young veggies and flowering plants?"

Here is my reply:

"Nancy, I have battled woodchucks with many methods over the years and most have not worked.

The method that HAS absolutely worked for me is a battery operated tube now called the Mole Mover (old name Go-Pher It). The Mole Mover is powered by 3 C batteries and emits a long beep every 28 seconds. The key is to know approximately (within 30 feet) where the woodchucks den is. Woodchucks typically live under sheds, decks, porches, croppings of stone, "other sides" of berms, someplace with a feel of shelter or protection.

They love to be in their dens so it is key to stick this tube in the ground as near (again within 30 feet) of their den as you can. After about a week of hearing this consistent beep every 28 seconds they and their family typically leave your area. If you are not sure of where they live, keep an eye on where they run to when you startle them above ground. They typically waddle straight for the den.

Other customers have their methods-fox urine, human hair in panty hose are two favorites. They may work for a time but I have found at the worst moment when the fox urine may be depleted or the hair scent is not there that they strike.

The tubes worked and are still working for me and for many other customers. I hope they work for you...let me know if you have any more gardening questions!"

It may be time to thin some seedlings started in your vegetable garden. Some of these seeds might be carrots, beets, radishes or even beans you may have started early. By the end of June, you may be able to harvest beets (they taste great when they are small). And those peas we talked about planting in mid April should be getting ready for harvest. My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it!

*If you have not planted bean or corn seeds, sunflower seeds or squash or cuke seedlings do not despair! The soil is just warming up and anything planted now and for the next couple of weeks or so will catch up in no time!

*This is a GREAT time to plant a crop of lettuce seedlings; plant this crop in a shadier setting (actual shady spot or underneath tomato or pole bean plants that will shade them). The hot summer sun tends to cause our little lettuce friends to wilt--they will grow great and taste better with quite a bit of shade! We have brand new lettuce seedlings now and will have another fresh crop in August!

*It is just about time to cover your blueberry and dwarf cherry trees to protect the fruit from birds. We sell plastic netting at Skillin's that is perfect for the job! The mesh can last for years if stored over the winter in a dry place.

*Many flowers of spring blooming perennials are passing by or are about to pass by. Take a few minutes to cut back these plants. In many cases (bachelor button, lupine to name a couple) a good sharp cutback will generate new growth from the plant and may well encourage some reblooming just a little later this season. In the case of lupine, a shorter lupine will give less of a home for pesky aphids that just love lupine as a summer home.

*If your garden plants have not had a good feeding yet this Spring; it is far from too late. We generally recommend a good granular feeding of all natural Plant Tone by Espoma or Pro Gro by North Country Organics. (We recommend all natural Holly Tone by Espoma for acid loving plants!) These are great all purpose foods that will very much improve the quality of your soil!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
June 22, 2011

No comments: