Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June (MORE mid June Garden Talks)

Hello again,

It is mid June and Skillin's Country has been enveloped by unseasonable cold and cloudiness (although our wet Spring trend of the last few years makes this relative darkness seem quite normal I am afraid).

Last week we posted a few mid June Garden Talks tips and here are some more!

*Want to grow some healthy snacks for your kids (and yourself) so that you teach them to LOVE some great vegetables?

Plant Sungold tomatoes (we have the plants), Sugar Snap Peas (we have the seeds) and the small "Pickling" cucumbers (we have the plants). I chose these 3 because (1) I love them myself; (2) they are easy to grow; (3) they always taste really good! The Sungold tomatoes just melt in your mouth and as you pick them they are so sweet that most never make it in the house!

Sungold tomatoes make a great snack for the kids--and for you!

Other quick snack choices are green beans; radishes (although they have a bite) and greens like swiss chard and spinach.

Any of these plants can be picked right in the garden and eaten on the spot OR can be easily picked and brought to the kitchen for the kids!

*Still have space in the garden? It is far from too late to plant many vegetables for a great harvest this season. AND many vegetables can be planted a second or third time IF you still have space.

This "successive" planting is in fact called "succession planting" and really helps to lengthen the season. Beans and peas are classic "succession" crops. Plant them now or in a few weeks and harvest them later in the season AFTER the first wave of beans or peas have been harvested.

There are many other great succession plants as well: Radishes, beets, lettuces and greens, broccoli and cauliflower all make great succesion plants for the vegetable garden!

*A great product to protect roses, tomatoes, vine vegetable crops like pumpkins, squashes and cukes, phlox, lilacs and many others against leaf spots, blights, mildews and other diseases is an all natural foliar spray called Vaccinate. (sold right here at Skillin's!)

It is a carbon based (molasses) foliar spray and contains Salicylic Acid for systemic acquired resistance. Vaccinate can be used on indoor and outdoor plants.

Vaccinate utilizes a holistic approach to plant health by building stronger plants. Salicylic Acid activates the plant’s natural immune system, reducing yellowing of foliage and building drought, heat and frost tolerance. Vaccinate is carbon based. Carbon is the building block of all life and buffers all nutrients in the soil. Without carbon, plants become stressed, which leads to disease. No carbon in the soil equals no growth -- it’s that simple! And Vaccinate works quickly -- your plant starts to absorb Vaccinate within 20-30 seconds of application.

Last year I used Vaccinate for the first time on many of my plants including roses, tomatoes, and phlox among many others. I was very pleased with the results and had almost no incidents of disease with my plants!

*Do your vegetable plants need pollinating? We sometimes hear from customers who planted a squash plant or a pumpkin plant that their plants blossomed but no fruit resulted. These plants need pollination! To best attract bees make sure you incorporate some other flowering plants in the same garden. Plant some flowering annuals like marigolds, petunias, zinnias, etc. The bees will come flocking to your flowers and you will have no pollination problems!

*Speaking of vegetable gardening, Terry Skillin recently appeared on WCHS's local program "207" and gave out some great information. (And I have heard many rave reviews!)

*This cold weather has very much delayed the growth of some of our warm weather loving vegetables. Take heart Skillin's Country! The weather will warm up and our eggplants, tomatoes and cucumbers will grow.

We have plenty of time left in the vegetable gardening season. Because of my schedule I have planted no vegetables yet and I will have plenty to choose from by August and September!

Customer Lynn asked about covering plants like tomatoes at night to try and keep them warmer during these cold nights. Lynn I would not do that--the temps should "uptick" and hopefully this slow start will just be a distant memory!

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

Let's go with Blue False Indigo (Baptisia Australis). This awesome plant was selected as the 2010 Perennial of the Year but many of us have known this reliable blue beauty for much longer than that! This is a plant totally native to America. In fact, Europeans used to pay Americans to grow it, for the dye they made from the blue flowers. That's why it's called False Indigo. Indigo was expensive and Baptisia is easy to grow. Baptisia is a member of the pea family and you’ll notice a resemblance in its foliage and flowers, as well as its fondness for cooler weather. Baptisia australis is a standout because of its striking blue flowers.

Blue False Indigo--a Mike's Must Have Perennial

Baptisa has an upright, shrubby form. It offers a long season of interest, with flower spikes, seed pods and foliage that is almost never bothered by pests or disease. Pea-like blossoms start as plump, tight buds. The flowers are borne on long racemes and are a vivid blue, often with flecks of cream or yellow. They are followed by seed pods which further demonstrate they are a member of the pea family. The pods persist and turn black and are often used in flower arranging. (Thanks to the garden writers at for the above 2 paragraphs).

Why is this a Mike's Must Have? It's blue spiky flowers are a standout in June. There is no flower quite like it! The plant is darned reliable and will be a cornerstone of your perennial garden for years to come. I love that!

*Gardening friend Margaret of Away to Garden publishes a great piece called "5 Things to Read While I Savage My Garden". Margaret is a great gardener and writer and she gets right to the point!

In her June Garden Chores, Margaret also make a great point about pruning shrubs:

"SPRING-FLOWERING SHRUBS like lilacs get pruned now. Later pruning (after July 4th here) risks damage to emerging buds for next year’s blooms. Clean up unsightly deadheads of other big bloomers like rhododendron, things that don’t make showy fruit next, so leaving behind their faded blooms is just messy. Viburnums, on the other hand, need faded flowers left intact to set beautiful, bird-feeding fruit."

*I seeded some major parts of lawn earlier this Spring with Black Beauty Grass Seed by Jonathan Green (I love it!) and also fed my lawn with Espoma's Organic Lawn Food. Everything is growing pretty well but some parts of my lawn soil need some beefing up as our mini drought of early June caused some areas of my lawn to stress a little from lack of water.

I am not going to feed my lawn until early fall again with an organic food BUT the parts of the ground for the lawn that need a little boost are going to get an application of Kelp Booster by Espoma. The soil in this back area of my lawn is not as healthy as other parts of my lawn. So the extra "TLC" that the calcium from the kelp and the microbial bacteria in this product should really help my lawn over the long haul. Remember for a healthy lawn it is about great soil (for deeper roots!)

*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).

I received just about an inch of water in my rain gauge this past week from Friday through Tuesday night. The ground was getting dry before that but I am going to grade this past week's rains as adequate for most situations in the ground. Keep an eye on hanging plants as well as plantings that are in high spots--this ground may dry out over the weekend if we get no meaningful rain this 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!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
June 15, 2011

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