A GROWING CONCERN: Plenty to dew in your garden

CAN YOU BELIEVE this past week’s weather? Talk about gorgeous.

I’m often asked by family and friends when the best time is to visit the North Olympic Peninsula.

I always reply, “Anytime is the best time. And the weather is always great, so just come on out whenever you can.”

But then I always add: If I had to pick a time, Sept. 3 to Oct. 3 would be my choice.

The kids are back in school, and the tourists are mostly gone — so the place is yours.

Fall color is coming in, the air is crisp and the weather is spectacular.

It is warm, mostly dry, the sun is out and there are no bugs. There really never are.

The big, glowing harvest moon will soon shine over the Strait on Tuesday, Sept. 24, and our days are still relatively long.

Dew point

However, the other thing you get at this time of year is the return of heavy dew. In fact, go out early tomorrow and walk across the lawn.

Watch how fast your shoes become moist and then totally saturated.

The dew point is now around 50 degrees, which means that every evening the dew comes in early and heavy.

The dew point is actually the temperature at which the water vapor in the air condenses into liquid on solid surfaces.

Truth be told, the dew point is a complex formula that relates to relative humidity, current air temperature and barometric pressures.

However, the heavy dew of late does cause one to get working in the garden.

The now-present heavy dew that forms early in the evening doesn’t dry off until mid or late morning, even on warm, sunny days like this past week. So, moisture is abundant on the ground and foliage surfaces. The omnipresent moisture has a cause and effect in your yard.

Deadhead your flowers

Deadheading becomes an absolute must. First, the old petals fall from the bloom and become adhered to the wet foliage.

The cold, damp air then starts the rotting effect almost immediately, as the flower petals are very delicate plant tissue.

So even though the plant survives well into October, the foliage will look disgusting.

You need to deadhead almost daily now — especially your dahlias, roses, calendulas, marigolds, zinnias, geraniums and any other shattered, petaled flowers.

Slugs are the next concern. The dew offers prime conditions for egg development and hatching of baby slugs.

Indeed, the moisture allows slugs to not only hatch out but to survive in large numbers. They then devour numerous times their own body weight per day.

This means it is time again to generously broadcast slug bait around the yard, but please, only use pet-safe products.

Many slug baits are not pet safe. They will kill not only Fluffy and Spot, but squirrels, birds and other critters.

Be a good environmental steward and target only the slugs with a pet-safe bait.

Time to hoe weeds

The next problem that dew fosters is weeds. It allows all that weed seed that is blowing around to germinate.

Don’t ask me how, but I believe weed seed germinates at 110 percent (must be twins and triplets).

Now is the time to hoe the weeds. This also has the benefit of breaking up any crust that has formed on your soil and allows moisture to penetrate evenly.

In fact, if you have not done so, now is an ideal time to first put down lime and bone meal, cultivate the soil and water them in well.

I’ll be doing this task this coming week. In addition, get out and broadcast germination inhibitors to further arrest weed development.

Enjoy our fabulous September here on the Peninsula.

________

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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