A GROWING CONCERN: Time for watering, planting annuals and raising the deck

Now with the passage of Mother’s Day and most of your baskets for the house being planted and hung, let me pass on a few tidbits of information and professional secrets for the coming season that are sure to improve your garden.

Summer annuals should be popping up all over the place as full flower beds appear across your yard.

Everyone enjoys annual flowers because of the beauty and admiration they bring to your home.

Buy flowers

So the first trick and tidbit is to go out and buy more flowers — a lot more flowers!

This is the time of year we enjoy our yard with friends and family, so fill up your garden because it really is the cheapest part of your landscape.

You will be spending days weeding, watering and tending the flowers and with fertilizer, water, gas, stakes and pruners and it all adds up.

Extra flowers are really cost-effective and, oh so rewarding.

Go buy more flowers!

Water them

Next is correct watering.

Nutrients come to the plant as water dissolves minerals and holds its solution in the pore space as microscopic hair roots absorb it.

So every time you water, you fertilize. Got it?

In the beginning, as the new plant roots are in their pot or plastic pack, root-bound, these restrained bundles must be watered in well, so they can adhere to the surrounding soil.

This means water deeply and thoroughly, saturating the entire area to a depth of six inches.

Watering numerous times a week collapses the soil all around the roots and stalk and greatly aids in its response to being planted.

The next trick is to use Dramm water breakers — no substitutes.

Dramm water heads are used in every successful greenhouse, nursery or plant outlet.

This is the only water tool for plants and I recommend the all-aluminum version (including the head), for its durability in and around the yard.

I do not own shares nor do I sell Dramm, but I really should ask for a kickback.

About dahlias

Next up is dahlias.

If you get that water head and buy a bunch of dahlias you will think I am a plant god, but in reality I have been in green housing and plants for 55 years.

Dahlias are the plant here on the North Olympic Peninsula and no flower is better.

You can learn to keep the ear wigs from coming into the house after cutting your dahlias.

Dahlias will burst forward in hundreds of blooms, getting ever better till they freeze down in November, only to return next year, even bigger and better.

My original plan was to move here and start a dahlia farm as they are that cool. I especially love them as a cut flower and strong garden presence with their mass bloom in every color, size and flower shape.

In my garden classes, I have failed students if they did not have dahlias.

Well, I really can’t because it is a no-grade, continuing education class and some participants are plain distraught over the bug invasion falling from the vase afterwards, so I end up educating them about the coolness of this tuber.

Bugs and slugs

This last week I have seen delphinium, dahlias, hostas, lilies and primroses destroyed by slugs.

Our slugs on the Peninsula are of Olympic proportions and always reproducing.

Keep vigilant and always on guard, as a single night’s dinner for a slug can be your plant’s demise.

Keep slug bait on hand all summer and fall for continued application, but always use “pet safe” baits.

And when you go to cut the dahlia flower, you want to pick the bloom that has one to three opening pedals coming out, so the blossom has greater life in the house and the earwig hotel isn’t open for them to crawl into.

Don’t pick the open flower for the table, unless you want house guests!

Raise the mower

I want to remind you again, one of the all-time best tips — raise your mower deck up.

I know too many people that are offended by those five little words.

Raising your mower now while the ground is still moist, and the tall grass, with its now-developed blades towering high at 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 inches, shading out new dandelions and other weeds.

It will also look greener than it ever has looked in the past.

Raise the mower to 3½ inches for your best lawn ever — go ahead and see if you can prove me wrong.

In the mean time, don’t let the wind dry out your new plantings.

Use the calm and early daylight hours to go out in the morning and water your pots and baskets, watching the mornings unfold with a cup of coffee and a watering wand in your hands.

________

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] news.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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