Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July (early July) Garden Talks

Hello again,

We have turned the July corner. Spring is fully behind us in Skillin's Country--we find ourselves in early summer! Woo Hoo!

It has been a cool start to the summer (after a very cool Spring) but the Fourth of July time period has brought us a temperature bump. I know, I know the heat can be bothersome! But come on people--we don't get much of it in the long run. So let that sun and those warm temperatures soak into our winter hardened bones. What a warm feeling!

*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 (1).

Deep waterings required by you: (1).

Coming into this past weekend our soil was getting dry as any quality rains had occurred about a week ago. We did get "a good soaker" in most areas on Sunday night the 3rd and some passing thunder showers in some areas later in the day on the 4th. My rain gauge has shown over an inch of rain but much of it was fairly torrential and probably not all soaked in. Therefore I am going to give a grade of 1 Quality Rain with a Deep Watering needed by you over the next few days!

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!

Some of the following garden tips come from Margaret Roach's outstanding A Way to Garden website. I have picked out a few tips that I feel are quite timely and freely added my own gardening takes in italics:

*"MAKE A (WEED) PASS through each garden bed each week, since weeds are not just unsightly but steal moisture, nutrients and light from desired plants. Apply mulch to all beds to help. " Great advice here. By staying on top of the weeds they can easily be cultivated out with a garden hoe or cultivator. I have tamed quite a bit of my weeds and now I am going to mulch my perennial beds with the terrific Fundy Blend by Coast of Maine (sold right here at Skillin's!). The Fundy Blend is an enriching mulch with seaweed and will provide some terrific compost matter to my soil and plants. There is also some bark in the Fundy Blend that will help this compost hold well as a mulch.

*"HOUSEPLANTS, including amaryllis, and also clivia, among many, can spend the summer outdoors, in a sheltered location with filtered bright light (not direct sun). Pinch back and repot those that need it as you transition them, and feed regularly." Even our indoor sunloving plants find summer sun too strong so shade and filtered sun are best. I agree with the steady fertilizer and for houseplant success we recommend organic Dynamite granules or Plant Tablets by Organica. Apply these fertilizers every 3 months or so for great success!

*"ANNUAL VINES getting the support they need, whether twine, wire, lattice? What about perennial ones like clematis?" As our vines are putting on tons of growth it is easy to evaluate whether their support is large enough. Now is a good time to replace any trellises or plant supports while there are inventory choices to be had.

*"BE ON THE LOOKOUT for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune them out as discovered. Ditto with suckers and water sprouts." This is always good advice and pruning out dead growth from any plant is the #1 way to avoid disease coming to the healthy part of the plant.

Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out weekly emails with some terrific gardening articles and timely tips. I highly recommend you sign up for his email list. Here are some highlights from this past week's article by Paul titled "A Few Tips to Begin a New Month":

*"If you have fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, grapes or other fruiting plants in your gardens it is now time to reapply your fruit tree sprays, as all the recent rain has washed off the protection off the foliage and fruit. Whether you use a natural or organic spray on your plants, these products protect your plants from insects and disease problems and they must be applied every 2 weeks during the growing season or more often during periods of heavy rains. Fungus and insect problems are more active when the weather is wet, your fruit and berries are young and more vulnerable at this time of the year, so keep them protected with a good spraying now. Organocide Spray, from Organic Laboratories and Fruit Orchard spray from Bonide are natural products that will keep all your plants safe when used on a regular basis."

*Tall growing perennials like delphinium, lilies, and hollyhocks have grown taller than normal this year due to all the cloudy weather. As the flowers begin to open the plants will become top heavy and fall over, so you might want to stake some of the plants that are beginning to show signs of this. Large clump plants like daisies, tall phlox, and coneflowers will spread apart as the flowers form on the plant so be prepared to tie the clump together so they do not topple over on other plants in your garden.

*Some of your annuals, perennials, and vegetables are prone to develop a disease called powdery mildew when the weather stays wet and cloudy. Check your tall phlox, bee balm, zinnias, roses, and vine crops like cucumbers and squash for a white film developing on the foliage. At the first sign --or better still, just treat them now with Serenade organic fungicide to prevent this problem for developing this year.

*If you purchased a hanging basket this spring, it would be a good thing to fertilize it again now and regularly every 2 weeks, to keep it more productive. Clean up the plant of the dead flowers and foliage also. If you purchased a fuchsia hanging basket this spring, I want you to look for burgundy fruit that has developed where the flowers were on the plant earlier. This fruit is forming seed on the plant and when this seed is mature, your plant will stop flowering, so please remove seed as it develops to keep your plant flowering. Also, do not be scared to cut back the long branches that form on your hanging baskets, as these branches will get even longer and all the flowers will form on the tip of these branches, not on the foliage near the pot. Pinching these branches back in half will promote new growth to develop from the center of the plant, keeping it bushier, encouraging more flowers on the plant and preventing those long branches from breaking from their own weight."  A great fertilizer for your flowering hanging plants is all natural Dynamite pellets or Osmocote is good as well. These are both time released granules that only need to be applied once or twice in the season. The granules slowly break down to release fertilizer into the soil. This type of feeding is very effective AND convenient for the busy gardener!

*"If you have pine trees on your property and they are not as thick as you want them to be, now is the perfect time to encourage a thicker plant. All you have to do is cut the new growth in half, right now. The new growth looks like candles and if you cut them in half now, the plant will make more buds for next year on the new growth that remains. This is the method used to make Christmas trees thicker, because the plant makes less growth during the season but produces more buds for next year. You remove the terminal bud of the branch and that branch stops growing longer but side buds that normally stay dormant wake up and begin to grow making more side shoots for a thicker plant."

*"The first week of July is the week for you to prune back or pinch your fall-flowering mums, Montauk daisies, tall growing sedums and fall-flowering asters to control their height in your garden, increase the amount of buds on the plant and set the plants clock to flower in the fall season or they will flower in early August due to the cloudy weather this May and June. Cut plants back by 30% to 50%, depending on how tall they are in your garden, as they should be no taller than 15 to 18 inches tall right now!" Don't wait too long to do this--later in this month is too late for us in Skillin's Country for this task!

*This piece of advice was found in our last Garden Talks but it is still very appropriate. With the frequent moisture we have been having, slugs and snails are out in a vengeance. These chompers eat plants during the night while we are sleeping. But if your plants have many holes or even evidence of shredding that means slugs and/or snails are munching on your plants. Pick up some all natural Slug Magic here at Skillin's. This product is effective against slugs and snails but not toxic so it is very safe to use when you have kids and pets in the area!

*Mike's Must Have Perennial for the Week

The Clematis! Click HERE to learn more about this great plant--a Must Have for any garden!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 5, 2011

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