Monday, July 25, 2011

July (late July) Garden Talks

Hello again,

Welcome to warm and increasingly dry Skillin's Country! Summer is here folks and we are getting some heat! Try to enjoy the heat and stay well hydrated. A little sun will warm your bones and that is a good thing. (Well since I wrote those sentences we have had record breaking heat in Skillin's Country but are now heading into a much more seasonable week. Enjoy!)

Following are several late July Gardening points. This post will be added to a few times over the next few days so keep checking back!

*Paul Parent checks in with some great late July gardening tips. I highly recommend you sign up for his weekly emails at The following tips can be found in their entirety and in much more detail right HERE. From Paul (I make some comments in italics):

**"WARNING! With the heat and humidity in the days to come, PLEASE keep a close eye on your garden for a "fungus among us," called powdery mildew. This is our worst fungus during the summer months, and it will move quickly on many plants in your yard and garden. Powdery mildew will begin as a white dust like covering on the leaves of your plants, especially if you water your garden with overhead sprinklers--and especially if you do it late in the day. As powdery mildew spreads on your plant, it will block the sunlight from your foliage and the leaves will turn brown and black quickly dying. As the foliage dies, the plant is prevented from making fruit and flowers on the plant and your garden will quickly come to an end for the year. "

We have some outstanding remedies for powdery mildew. All natural Seranade, Garden Sulfur and Organocide will all treat powdery mildew. Now is the time to get after powdery mildew to get best performance and a longer life out from your flowering plants!

**Your perennials are growing like crazy right now, and if you can deadhead the faded flowers from the plant, many of your perennials will bloom again in just a few weeks. Some will continue to bloom right through the summer months if you remove the faded flowers so the plant cannot make seeds. Pick off the faded flowers from your hosta so the energy is sent to the foliage, making the plant larger and more colorful. Pick off the stems and seed pods from your daylilies so the seeds in the pods do not produce wild seeds or you will lose your hybrids with their wonderful colors and your plants will all turn orange like the wild plants.

Black Eyed Susans! Don't Be Afraid to Show this Plant You are the Boss!
If you keep cutting your daisy flowers like black-eyed Susans and coreopsis, they will become bushier; if you do not, they will reseed all over your garden and take over. You can allow the seed heads to dry up and ripen on the plant and then crush the pods to release the seeds and spread them over open fields or along the side of the road for your own wildflower garden.

**Your lawn will need one inch of water per week to keep it green during these hot days. Water first thing in the morning before it gets hot out, and water less often but apply more water when you water. This will encourage the roots to chase the water down into the soil and not encourage them to grow up to the water and dry out faster. Raise the level of the lawn mower blade to the highest spot to keep the grass tall, because tall grass does not dry up as fast as short grass in your lawn--and mow your lawn less often if it gets hot and dry to keep it green and healthy.

Many folks choose not to water their lawn and that is fine too but Paul still gives good advice here. Also I totally agree about maintaining a high lawn level and mowing the lawn less. I skipped a mowing last week because my lawn has not grown much at all in the last couple of weeks!

**"Your vegetables are beginning to ripen quickly now, so pick in the garden often and when the vegetable is young and tender. Young vegetables like peas, beans, squash, cucumbers, and lettuce will taste much sweeter and any seeds in the vegetable will be smaller, making them easier for you to digest. Remove any overgrown vegetables as soon as you see them or your plants will stop producing because they are making seeds on the plant; great for the compost pile."

**"Feed your containers and hanging baskets at least every 2 weeks, because the roots are stuck in the container and they have no way to leave the container to search for food needed to grow and stay healthy. A well-fed container at this time of the year will thrive and fill your life with wonderful color and vegetables. Also water often when the days get hot and dry because the plants are growing faster now than any other time of the year."

Our container plants are growing mightily right now and they are really pulling nutrients from the soil. Want GREAT flowers for the rest of the summer and well into the fall? Feed your containers regularly  (I feed weekly with Fish and Seaweed Food from Neptune's Harvest) and you will not be sorry!

**"Keep weeding your gardens as the weeds continue to develop, because during this time of the year, many weeds are making seeds for next year's garden. Weed a little bit now or twice as much next year, it's up to you. If weeds and watering are problems, apply bark mulch or compost on these gardens after you clean them to prevent new weed problems and help hold moisture in the ground. "

I could not agree more. I spent quite a bit of time on a broiling day weeding but I drank a lot of water, worked on my tan and had a much better looking garden afterward! I love to apply Fundy Blend bark/compost to clean beds this time of year to keep more weeds down and to provide enriching material to the soil.

(Paul Parent tips added 7/25/2011)

*Skillin's Moisture Meter:   (7/24/2011)

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 (0).

Deep waterings required by you: (2).

Okay dry conditions in Skillin's Country continue to get dryer and dryer. Folks it is severely dry out there and even established plantings are thirsting for water. New plantings as described above need good slow deep waterings. I know this is a busy time of year but do what you can! Yesterday I also gave my Endless Blue Hydrangea a good soaking. The Endless Blue has been in the ground a few years BUT it has those big floppy leaves and moppy flowers so the plant is working hard in the heat. But the main focus of my watering efforts are new plantings--annuals, vegetables, a few perennials and a couple of shrubs.

Let us know if you have any watering questions!

*Most of the time our cucumbers grow like crazy and yield very well once the plants are established and the weather is warm. But every once in a while problems develop. Here is a link by good gardener Margaret of Away to Garden that talks about a few cucumber issues that could affect any of us. (7/24/2011)

*KCB is back with a Gardening Quick Point. "When emptying all those bags of Penobscot, Quoddy or other Coast of Maine compost blends,  I fill the empty bag w/water and use that to water in....I equate this to licking the cake batter bowl. So much good stuff is left behind in that bag but almost impossible to get out. Fill w/water and use the water almost like a 'compost tea'. This way every delectable morsel of the Coast of Maine product is used. Waste not want not!" (added 7/20/2011)

*Also from KCB about deadheading roses:

Deadheading roses. This time of year I do a lot of this. Most of my roses will bloom through Thanksgiving. Beyond that I don't know because I'm not there.

Here goes:

For many years, I used to let roses do their thing. I'd let the blossoms fall to the ground in delicate folds, allow the hips to dominate the shrub and eventually become the focal point of the plant, most notably in old fashioned Rugosa roses. Most often Rose hips are attractive in their own right, the bright orange of the Rugosa, the burgundy reds of many others.

The hips are a perfect accent to the fall landscape yet most of our roses begin their blooming in June. It’s a long way from June to October and I know from experience Roses want to be a part of the rest of the summer. To be more technical: Rose bushes are fruit trees in disguise and they will attempt to "set fruit." When you remove the spent blossoms, you interrupt the fruiting cycle and stimulate the plant to fruit again, producing another bloom cycle. If you don't cut the blossoms, they become the "hip" or seed pod and the bush stops blooming.

 You want to deadhead weekly if not more often. The rule-of-thumb is to cut back the stem to just above an outward-facing bud above a five- or seven-leaflet leaf close to the end of the stem.

About Labor Day, do not cut the blossoms to allow the plant to begin to harden for winter.

The rule-of-thumb assumes the plant is healthy and strong. If not, cut back less.

If you own a type of shrub rose, like Rugosa, where hips are part of the display, just clear away the spent petals. (this gardening point added 7/20/2011)

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 20, 2011

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