A GROWING CONCERN: Get a professional start to the summer season

NOW, WITH THE passing of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day only a week away, let me pass on a few tidbits of information and professional secrets for the season.

Summer annuals should be popping up all over the place as full flower beds appear across your yard. Everyone enjoys them because of the beauty and admiration they bring to your home. So the first trick and tidbit is to go out and buy more — a lot more.

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

You will spend days weeding, watering and tending the flowers and with fertilizer, water, gas, stakes and pruners. Extra flowers are really cost effective and oh so rewarding.

Next is correct watering. Nutrients come to the plant as water dissolves minerals and holds its solution among the pore spaces as microscopic hair roots absorb it. So every time you water, you fertilize.

In the beginning, as the new plants roots are in their pot or pack rootbound shape, it must be watered well so it can adhere to the surrounding soil.

This means water deep and thorough, saturating the entire area to a depth of 6 inches. Watering numerous times for a week collapses the soil well all around the plant and greatly aids in it’s take off.

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. (I don’t own shares in the company, nor do I sell Dramm products — but I should ask for a kickback).

Next up are dahlias.

Get that water head, buy a bunch of dahlias and you will think I am a plant god, but in reality, I have just been in the greenhousing and plants business for 59 years.

Dahlias are the plant here on the North Olympic Peninsula. They will bust forward in hundreds of blooms, getting ever better till they freeze down in November — only to return next year even bigger and better.

I came here to start a dahlia farm. They are that cool, especially as cut flowers and strong garden presence with their mass blooms in every color, size and flower shape one could dream or desire.

In my garden classes, I would fail students if they did not have dahlias, but I can’t because it is an ongoing continuing education class.

Sprinkle around slug bait, and not just on the dahlias. This last week I have seen delphinium, dahlias, hostas, lilies and lobelia all destroyed by slugs.

Our slugs on the Peninsula are of Olympic proportions and population. Always stay 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.

I want to end with my best trick of all — raise your mower height. I know many people that are offended by those three words.

Raise your mower now while the ground is still moist and the tall grass with it’s developed blades towering high at 3.5 inches will shade out dandelions and other weeds. It will also look greener than it ever has looked in the past. Raise the mower to 3.5 inches for your best lawn ever — go ahead see if you can prove me wrong, but please, do not prove me wrong.

As for your health, please stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and 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] (subject line: Andrew May).

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