A GROWING CONCERN: Making the most of summer’s last lazy days

ANOTHER GORGEOUS AUGUST week here in Camelot, I mean, the Olympic Peninsula.

And since the best days of summer are upon us, let’s follow last week’s lead of a “no-work week.”

So here is another easy week for us all.

Thirsty plants

Water, water, water and not a drop of rain to be counted. That’s right, the paltry dribble of the last few weeks is essentially meaningless to most of your yards and plants.

If you have any of the following plants then water the heck out of them and remember the burn ban is in place for severely dry conditions:

• New plantings of trees (two years or less)

• Any large tree surrounded by grass

• All fruit, berries and vegetables — especially fruit trees

• Roses, dahlias, lilies, clematis, vines, bushes and, of course, baskets and containers.

• Also if you have very old trees, soak them at a drip-drip-drip speed (five gallons or less per hour) for a day or two.

Hungry plants

With all that water and the time of year, now is the time for one last summer feed.

While your plants are still growing and before it is too late for weak new growth, give everybody a shot of fertilizer.

I want to see blue water everywhere this week, (the next week too) at full strength — the plants want the foliar feeds.

A granular fertilizer now is also crucial and especially for you folks doing it right with organics, now is the time for bone meal, potash, blood meal, lime, irons and other nutrients. These organic-type nutrients need several weeks more to become readily available to the plant.

By the way, your grass will adore a balanced feed right now.

Our optimum lawn growing season begins in four to six weeks.

Lilies

Back to lilies for a moment. The truly magnificent oriental lilies are out. Go see the blue ribbon winners at the Clallam County Fair.

And let me again stress the value of pulling out the anthers (pollen-covered yellow or orange, fuzzy filaments in the center).

This will not only preserve the unblemished beauty of the flower (pollen stains the flowers) but will prolong the beauty two- or three-fold.

Then remove the flower stalk to a vase on its last day or two of life.

This process will greatly increase blooms next year.

Veggies

As for your vegetable garden, a late summer cultivation in conjunction with a large leaf removal (more air and light) and especially when followed up with a deep watering, will give your production a last big push.

It is also the time for crops — soy beans, peas, lettuce, radishes, cabbage, leeks, green onions, salad greens and even broccoli. They will finish out in late fall.

But you have this week to begin.

Remember your garden is in full bore and soon many plants will come off production.

Enjoy the peninsula to its fullest and reap our inherently wonderful fall by sowing an autumn veggie garden.

Planting and maintenance

Now to bulbs. I was at a gardening store when a reader caught me and was confused on bulb planting, basically when to do it.

Here on the peninsula with our aforementioned ideal growing fall weather, bulbs must be planted before the closing days of September until December.

Planting them earlier than September will have a high probability of sprouting prematurely and then having the bud eye get frost damage in the winter.

So, adding to the bulbs repeat after me: “Top dress with top soil. Top dress with top soil. Top dress with top soil. Bone meal is my friend.”

And finally, we turn to your baskets and containers.

Go back out and remove dead flowers, branches and stems. Maintenance now is the foundation of your magnificent floral display in October and November, too.

________

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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