A GROWING CONCERN: Summer and its chores going strong

IT IS NOW the beginning of mid-early summer. That’s right, there are 74 more days of summer left.

Just as most people give up and think summer is over on Labor Day, so will our plants and yard if you do not perform a host of chores now.

Enough of the chit-chat.

The time is short and the days are long, so here’s your list of garden jobs to do from now until August, when you will get a new list.

1. Check your watering

We are now in a long, dry stretch and your plants must not get stressed. Double check all aspects of watering.

Has vegetation grown and started to block watering devices? Have drip lines been clogged or severed? What about your baskets or pots?

Carefully check them and stone and driveway facings to make sure a dry area here or there is not appearing.

When you see the dried plant dying from lack of water, it will be too late.

2. Cultivate and/or till

Many folks just do not understand the delicate interplay of soil to all plant functions.

Now, while it is dry and hot, it is vital for all moisture to soak into — not run off — the soil.

A crust has developed on your soil caused by natural elements of compaction — water, rain, wind, gravitation, the sun — or stepping on it.

The crust greatly slows the release of harmful gases caused by decomposition and living organisms.

It also acts as a barrier blocking vital gases from the atmosphere and not allowing these gases to “charge the soil.”

Lightly cultivate your soil or till between veggie rows and around trees to break up the crust.

But so not cultivate on hot sunny days, and when you do cultivate, immediately water. Add a fertilizer to be totally professional.

3. Roses

These plants are nitrogen gluttons, so feed them and definitely keep them well-watered. This is their time.

Absolutely remove all even slightly yellow or dying leaves. Make sure to prune them down low enough [16 to 20 inches] and on an outward-facing node when removing flowers.

4. Lilies

As lilies bloom, make sure to pull off the long anthers inside the flower.

This will double the time they will bloom. Tie them up, if needed, and feed and water them well.

As the bloom fades, cut off the flower but keep as much foliage as possible.

Feed bone meal to your lilies and all bulb-type plants in mid August.

5. Deep water your trees

Any nice big trees — and especially fruit trees you wish to see a decade from now — need watering every three weeks though September.

On nice summer days, fruit and specimen trees can transpire [release into the atmosphere] hundreds of gallons of water.

Help them keep their fruit and stay vigorous and healthy by watering enough to soak 2 feet down [four of five hours or drip watering a day].

6. Weeds

Be on the look-out for noxious weeds and destroy them before their seeds ripen and disperse.

Please get those thistle and nettle weeds out, or at least keep their flower heads cut off all year to avoid spreading them.

Also get rid of those grasses, clover or other isolated weeds in your garden while they are easy to pull, otherwise an intrusion becomes a mass occupancy.

7. Sharpen your mower

Your mower has worked hard this past few months, and few of us have a perfectly level yard. A dull mower tears rather then cuts the grass blades.

These tears brown out in the sun, giving a dull brown look to your lawn.

Take your blade off and have it sharpened. While your at it, clean and change the oil, air filter and fuel filter.

And spouses listen up; Raise the setting of the cut to the second highest notch when your partner isn’t looking.

8. Dead and pinch

I can’t explain or emphasize enough how keeping the dead flowers off and pinching back some tips with buds and flowers every week will keep your plants blooming well into November.

This is your number one disease fighter. So remember you have to spend flowers to make flowers.

9. Shape prune

The next few weeks are perfect to shape and prune your woody ornamentals.

It is still early summer, so there is plenty of time for new growth to develop and mature before late fall frost could damage tender new growth.

This season’s new growth is also rampant, and thinning or shaping now gives a manicured look to the rest of summer.

10. Perennials

Stay on top of them. Remove their flowers and stalks when they are finished blooming.

Thin out old, large leaves, and then lightly top dress with a nice dark compost.

Cultivate and fertilize for a guaranteed stellar repeat performance.

Don’t forget bone meal in mid-August.

11. Veggie garden

Right now is the absolute perfect time to sow new rows of beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, beets and spinach — even green onions.

If you lay down new rows of edible or sweet peas this week, you will have a stupendous early fall harvest.

The vegetable garden has its best months ahead. In fact, go buy seed today.

12. Disease and pestilence

Be very diligent now in your observation of the garden.

Find those bug infestations in the first few days.

Cut off or throw away and treat areas immediately before a few aphids ruin all the dahlias or cause trees to abort their fruit.

________

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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