A GROWING CONCERN: Shake it up a little with these tips

WE’RE NEARLY HALFWAY through August, and school’s start looms.

I’ve heard a lot of folks getting tensed up that summer is close to being over.

That is pretty bizarre, since summer is only a few days into the second half.

Yes, there is nearly half as much summer left as has passed. Not everyone thinks that way.

In the garden, we horticulturists (domesticus landscaperis) know that every moment, our yards need to be worked, every inch to be weeded or deadheaded, pruned, raked, admired and cherished.

It may be my tundra upbringing (Green Bay, Wis.), but I have to say it is never hot, nor is it ever cold here (ever).

The lack of humidity, subzero (actually, sub-20s) temperatures, mosquitoes, tornadoes or killer storms make this place ideal.

The beauty is unmatched anywhere, and community spirit is as high as I ever seen anyplace else (52 countries and 48 states).

And since summer is only half over, with the best yet to come, it is an ideal time change, that Labor Day mentality.

And since I want to shake you up a little, let’s list some very radical notions I would like everyone to come away with when this article is done:

1. During the summer, a brown lawn is not only advantageous, it is normal.

2. One must indeed cut and prune away flowers and buds in order to promote a more prolific plant.

3. Insects, even aphids or whiteflies, are a “good thing” in the garden; they feed predators.

4. The chemicals one uses to kill weeds are far more destructive than the weeds.

5. Watering properly is way more beneficial than daily sprinkles.

6. The pruner is mightier than the sprayer.

7. The best way to compost grass clippings is to leave them on the ground.

8. The best plant may not be the prettiest one but the one ideally suited to its location.

9. Switching to organic gardening guarantees worst results in the short term.

10. There is nothing wrong with native plants; the natural salal, fern, huckleberry and western cedar are gorgeous to everyone east of the Cascades.

11. There is no shame in hiring out all or some gardening jobs.

In the next several weeks, we shall go over some of these challenging statements, but right now, let’s tackle Nos. 1 and 3.

Your lawn is a broad-leaf ornamental grass that naturally goes dormant (i.e., brown) in the summer. Any amount of watering is wasted a week later if you leave on vacation, as it reverts to its natural brown color.

And as far as the bugs are concerned: If you kill them all off, then their predators have nothing to eat and thus die off only to increase dramatically the “bad bug” population. Balance is the name of the game.

See you next week, but for now, go turn off the sprinkler and toss out the pesticides.

________

Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] dailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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