A GROWING CONCERN: The list goes on for summer gardens

I HOPE EVERYONE has been very busy this last week with the to-do list, otherwise with today’s continuing job list you will be as busy me.

1. Bad plant watch

Right now, today, look over the entire yard. If a plant looks sickly, diseased or poor, remove it and plant a new one.

Selection is still fairly good in most outlets, and replacements are not only easy to find but are available at comparable sizes.

2. Rose care

Important work to be done here. The motto here is cleanliness is next to godliness.

Your favorite diseases, black spot and rust, primarily move around your plants by leaping from diseased foliage to a new fresh smorgasbord of leaves nearby.

Clean up all dead and dying leaves on the ground and, most importantly, remove any and all poor, yellow, infected leaves on the plant.

Such leaf stripping is the best control for roses, so do it now before 80 percent more of your plant is infected.

Please do not spread these diseases by watering your roses overhead.

Only water the soil, which, especially with roses, should be covered with mulch.

3. De-Sucker

Oh, how suckers suck!

They consume the lifeblood, bloom, fruit and aesthetic value right out of your edible and ornamental fruit as well as many decorative shrubs.

Every few weeks, go out and inspect your susceptible plants.

Chances are you will find numerous fresh, tender, little sprouts all over the branches. Take them off.

It is best to do this when they are tender, they are easily rubbed off with your hand.

If you wait until later, it will take a pruner and an hour or two.

4. Re-Veggie your garden

Just keep piling on seed or plant starters for an abundant harvest.

Sow radishes, greens, spinach, lettuce and beans every couple of weeks from now through August.

Start a new broccoli, cabbage, kale, beets, kohlrabi and cauliflower, so your harvest doesn’t dry up too soon.

Right now should be your maximum point of planting, harvesting, tilling and tending.

5. Cultivate

This is the oldest trick of the trade. Soil breathes, as do roots and a plethora of organisms living in the soil.

Water, which is essential to all of this, must have free access to enter the soil.

One barrier is the crust on top of your growing medium created by gravity and moisture.

Cultivate lightly every few weeks to not only knock down weeds, but to let water and air in.

6. Pinch away

Carry deadheading to the next level. On many selective plants, such as petunias, take off the old flower and pinch out a set or two of leaves.

This produces several times more flowers than deadheading alone.

A perfect program includes deadheading and pinching off a few stems at the same time.

7. Re-plug plants

Right now all the plant vendors have good supplies left. This won’t last long, so go out and check all your beds, baskets, pots and containers.

Be strong; if there are weak, spindly, sick plants, pull them out.

These plants will only continue to perform poorly, so don’t waste any time or ruin the look.

Replace or add in flowers while the beds are still young and replacements are available to beef up your design.

8. Baskets and containers

First, go get more. Second, take care of them.

Water these plants every day — regardless of outside weather.

When it is hot and sunny, water again in the evenings. Pinch them always and deadhead like mad. Give them dissolved fertilizer (blue water) at least once a week.

9. Double or triple pinch

You have until July 4 to cut back your fall-flowering asters, mums and sedums.

Last week I got in a triple cutback, which makes these plants short, bushy pincushions of flowers.

Even if you have not done a single cutback yet, prune these now tall (12 to 20 inches high) flowers back, and yes, I know they have flowers forming.

Tough love time.

If you do this horticulture trick just once, you will be hooked for life because of the outcome.

10. Spot pruning

Walk around the entire yard, under trees, along the sidewalk and around your house.

Your plants are growing very fast now, and errant branches are everywhere.

A snip here and a trim there keeps everything in perfect harmony to the traffic flow of your guests.

I personally hold my hand outstretched atop my head, and any plant part that touches that hand gets pruned away; hence, no visitors get slapped in the face or have to duck, which is a real plus.

11. Edge-work

If you want a detailed look, nothing looks better than sharp, crisp lines, so a few days before a gathering, re-establish all your edges.

Scrape out curb and driveway lines, edge all berms and planting beds, and trim the tree rounds and walkways.

This gives a noticeable look to the entire property.

12. Re-surface

Be it gravel, mulch, beauty bark or rock, now is a great time after all the traffic and commotion of spring planting to resurface and regrade your beds, pathways, berms, driveway and yard.

This really gives your yards a new and organized clean look.


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 news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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