Monday, July 11, 2011

July (mid July) Garden Talks

Hello again,

Okay time is going fast! We are speeding toward MID July. Skillin's Country will be at mid July by the end of this week.

What a great week of weather we had last week beginning with the Fourth of July. Nice sunny skies and warm temperatures! Oh boy!

But let me tell you  it is dry out there!

*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 (0).

Deep waterings required by you: (2).

The rain situation has been pretty simple the last week: We really have not had any! I believe Thursday night my rain gauge did actually show about 1/2" of rain but that was from a downpour. A customer who lives about 3 miles from my rain gauge received "zilch" for rain. So I am not counting any of that. Starting this past weekend my garden hoses have been getting used quite a bit for deep waterings as I have defined above.

7/14 Update!: The above paragraph was written on Tuesday 7/12. On Wednesday 7/13 we received close to an inch of rain in some parts of Skillin's Country but much of that came down fast and furiously and there was no doubt some run off. We can grade this rain event as 1 "Deep Watering". This means another Deep Watering will be required by you over the next few days--especially with warm dry weather forecast over the weekend.

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!

*The weather is heating up and last July we listed 10 Hot Plants for you to consider planting for COLOR, COLOR and more color! Take a look at this list--it is pretty darned good (lots of my favorites on there!). I LOVE the plants listed and even the best Skillin's customers probably don't have all these plants listed (but probably should!).

Coneflower and Bee Balm; Quite Possibly My 2 Favorites:
Same Picture, Same Post, Same Garden!
2 HOT Plants!!
*Flowers are coming and going in our perennial gardens. Time for a review of the timeless Grateful Dead(heading) as written by the legendary yet timeless KCB! This is a great post that deals with the principles of just when to prune back your perennials for more growth AND more flowers!

Margaret of Away to Garden writes well about July deadheading: " If you were squeamish about cutbacks as spring faded, you may be regretting it now, and facing floppy, exhausted plants in certain spots. Some things (like certain perennial Geraniums, for instance) do better if cut back hard. Go for it. Others need just deadheading of spent blooms. Annuals that grow leggy can often benefit from a chop job, too. Do some experiments. Sometimes a plant can’t look worse, and you probably won’t kill it. "

*My rose bushes just finished their first round of blooming. A couple of days ago I pruned off the dead or dying blossoms and the stems the blossoms were on. This pruning makes way for more stems that produce blossoms and encourages the roots to put on new growth that will mean flowers down the road. When my roses get to this point I also sprinkle some more Flower Tone by Espoma around the base of the roses. I then water the Flower Tone in with a nice slow and deep watering. Just last week I sprayed my roses with all natural Vaccinate to help ward off diseases. I must tell you the foliage on my roses looks rich and green--and the flowers were gorgeous!

 One big secret to continuing summertime blossoming for your  rose bushes is pruning to prevent the plants from setting seeds. When a blossom begins to fade, cut it off the plant. You should cut just above the first leaf that has five leafs on it. Leave about ¼” above this first leaf that you cut, this will allow for sturdier blossoms.

*It will soon be time to rejuvenate those strawberry beds. Prepare to pull out older strawberry plants that will not be productive in the future. Also if you have not done so put down some Pro Gro by North Country Organics or Garden Tone by Espoma to further improve the quality of your garden soil.

*Gardening guru KCB told me that she has found a great technique to combat tall "flopping over" Nepata or Cat Mint. She first shears the middle of the plant and thus the blue/purple color is retained by the edge stems. In about a week the middle begins to re bloom nicely and that means it is time to prune those tall edge stems. In short order your garden has a compact Cat Mint that is ready to offer color for weeks ahead! My question is would this "inside out" pruning method work well with some Coreopsis--another perennial that will  flower for a good period of time but can get floppy? Well...we are not sure BUT this method seems worth a try with coreopsis as well.

*Mike's Must Have Perennial Selection for this Week:
It is time to pick one of my ABSOLUTE favorites--the Monarda, "Bee Balm". And my personal favorite is the RED Bee Balm--right now we are featuring the Grandview Scarlet and Jacob Cline.

 Why This is a Mike's Must Have Perennial:
The Red Monarda is just a premier eye catcher. I plant it in and near a perennial bed that can easily be seen out of my back kitchen window. Let me tell  you the Red Monarda catches my eye out that window for weeks on end. And it looks great close up as well. The Red color is simply electric!

Monarda Red Bee Balm!

Bee Balm is a prime attracter of humming birds as well. They buzz around the Bee Balm all  day long. This plant is a highlight of a perennial garden for weeks. I cannot recommend it enough.

The pink varieties are pretty as well--to me not as electric but a nice, nice pink.

*Raspberry season is upon us! Check out this video from July 2010 by Tim Bate and Jumpin' Joe Kubetz where they talk about raspberries!

*I KNOW that I am writing about them every week but slugs and snails are doing lots of munching in our gardens. Got holes in your hostas? Slugs. Got some munched on marigolds? Slugs Got some shredded leaves in your lettuce? Slugs. I have all of this and more and I know what the problem is. Slugs who hide under plants by day and nibble by night. Like you I am so busy for days at a time I do not do a good job getting Slug Magic (totally safe and effective) slug bait down on the ground. But when I do it works so well!

*Garlic is getting near harvest time. Again from Margaret at Away to Garden: "Garlic may start to fade and topple by later this month or next, as harvest time nears. When several lower leaves yellow, try carefully lifting a head or two to judge readiness, before lifting all to cure during a warm, dry spell in an airy, sheltered place."

*My lawn (and yours) is not growing as fast in the heat but just a reminder: Do not bag those clippings. Keep your lawn "high" for less weed growth and more moisture retention. Let those lawn clippings lie on the lawn and then decompose into your soil. What better organic matter can there be than lawn clippings. Plus if you are feeding your lawn organically a couple of times per season then you have "live soil" in your lawn that will quickly integrate those lawn clippings into the soil.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 14, 2011

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