SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1July Gardening Tips

 

Quick Summer Tips: When geranium flowers wither, pinch off the flower with your fingernail an inch or so below the blossom.  A few days later, tug out the dried, brownish stem at the top.  A replacement stem and flower will grow quickly because you pruned properly.  Perk up flowering plants in containers or hanging baskets with an application of Greenlight’s Super Bloom once every two weeks.   Prune achillea and delphinium back to 3' off the ground now to enjoy another burst of late-summer and early-fall flowers. Give lawns about an inch of water a week if we get no rain.  It is better to apply this all at once to encourage deeper roots in your lawn.  Water in early morning so the grass blades dry quickly, reducing the chances of fungus.  To measure the water you apply, cut the lid off an empty tuna can and place on the lawn.  When the can is full, you have applied an inch of water.  Those folks who have sandy soil, which drains very quickly, water twice a week, 1 inch each time. 

Weekly Gardening Schedule

WEEK ONE:

1. Japanese beetles are present and mating.  Place traps at the corners of the property away from desirable plants (roses, grapevines, flowering plums, and cherries). If you need to spray, we suggest using Bonide Yard & Garden Eight, or Beetle Killer. Both will kill on contact and provide about two weeks of protection.

2. Flowering annuals could be faltering now due to accumulation of a growth-regulating hormone (Auxin) in the uppermost terminal buds and leaves in the upper half of the plant.  To bring back to life, prune annuals (whether flowering or not) back to within 3"-4" of the soil.  Water the garden twice weekly and fertilize with Plant-tone using 30lbs for every 100 square feet.  Also, run a pH test with a pH meter to verify that the pH is in the 6.5 to 7.0 range.  Add garden lime to adjust pH.  Petunias, geraniums, impatiens, zinnia, marigolds, aster, and black-eyed susan all respond well to pruning.   

3. Arborvitae, mugho pine, and taxus (yews) may be sheared (cosmetically pruned) now. 

4. Pinch back chrysanthemums for the last time to enjoy bushy plants this fall.  Pinching back the tip of the stem increases flowers.  (Dormant buds start forming in late July/early August). 

5. Before the next rainstorm, scatter 2 cups of superphosphate around the dripline of azalea, laurel, pieris japonica, and rhododendron to promote a heavier flower bud formation, that will occur later this summer.

6.  Check and treat trees and shrubs for sucking insects like scales, mites, and aphids. Use horticultural oil, making three applications 10 days apart. Be sure not to use this chemical on blue spruce or on blue Hosta. We suggest using Yard & Garden Eight or Systemic Insecticide by Bonide for these two plants to avoid taking the blue pigment out of them.

7. Mildew problems on roses, phlox, and lilac are likely to occur with the hot, humid, moist days and nights.  Be sure to water only in the morning, and only on the ground around the plant, try not to get the foliage wet.  If this and other fungal problems persist, we suggest using Infuse by Bonide, which is a systemic fungicide and repeat the application every ten to fourteen days.

8. Water your compost pile when you water the garden and turn it weekly. This will help with the decomposition.

9. Be sure to tie dahlias, lilies, and gladiolus to stakes as they gain height.  Be sure there is adequate mulch around these summer flowering bulbs to help keep their roots cool and help maintain moisture.

10. When watering, remember that the water from a hose that has been laying in the sun all day will be as hot as hot tap water from your sink, and will steam your plants, which is not good for plants.  Run the water on the lawn or around shrubs before watering your vegetables, herbs, bulbs, or shade loving plants.

WEEK TWO:

1. Prune and fertilize strawberries. By doing this now, you will allow time for the plants to develop for next year’s fruiting. It is suggested that you spade out 2 year old plants and discard, as one year old plants will produce much better fruit.

2. Remove the remains of cool season vegetables now, rake up and dispose of debris to prepare for starting fall vegetable plants soon.

3. Rake up all fallen fruit from the cherry harvest to prevent disease problems from occurring next year.

4. June drop has also occurred on apples, these need to be removed to prevent disease and bee problems. 

5. Prune spent blossoms of Rose of Sharon plants to promote re-blooming.  Fertilize with Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster and check pH which should be  6.0 to 7.0.  Under ideal conditions, the wind usually blows off spent blossoms, which promotes re-blooming through autumn.

6. Rose care for the summer should include weekly feedings with Greenlight’s Blossom Booster.  Regular pruning of spent blossoms to the first set of  five leaflets will keep roses producing flowers.  Spray every 10 days with a fungicide, we recommend Bonide’s Infuse.  If an outbreak of black spot occurs, remove and rake-up all infected leaves and dispose, failure to do so will only allow more outbreaks.  If the plant is completely covered, simply cut back as you would in the spring and allow for new growth.  The plant will be healthier and beautiful again by fall. For the dedicated Rose Gardener we highly recommend Bonide’s Rose RX

Systemic Drench every six weeks. This product will protect your roses, even the

new growth, against insects and diseases.

7. Prune all lateral shoots (side branches) of the wisteria to about 6" from the main vertical trunk.  You should continue to do this every 2-3 weeks until Labor Day.

8. If you have a mosquito problem, consider installing a bat house.  Bats are nighttime predators with large appetites, eating more than 500-600 mosquitos an hour as well as many other nighttime insects.  More than 3000 bugs are consumed a day for every bat present.  Mount your bat house on a 12-16 foot self-standing pole facing east or southeast. Also, be sure you have no standing water sources for mosquitos to breed.

9. When fruit and berry plants are ripening, remember to harvest consistently every day to avoid inviting the deer to eat the ripened fruit.  Install a nylon cover mesh to keep the deer and also birds from your berries.

10. Summer flowering bulbs need sustained moisture to stay in top shape and resist insect pests and fungal diseases that tend to strike in the hot, humid summer months. Remember, regular deep watering, unless we have a soaking rain, now through August will be helpful.

WEEK THREE:

1. Grape vines should be pruned to allow for more air circulation around the fruit, and to minimize the risk for a powdery mildew attack.

2. Check Rhododendron for rust and spray with Infuse fungal spray by Bonide. 

3. Prepare garden space now for fall cool season vegetables.  Work in composted manure or leafgro to add organic matter, remember to check PH which should be at 6.0 to 7.0. 

4. Apply a second application of systemic insecticide for lacebugs on azaleas, rhododendron, pieris, and laurels.

5. Keep watch on lawn for drought stress.  If you walk on your lawn and the grass does not spring back, it needs water.  Clay soils need 1" rain per week, while sandy soils need two 1" applications a week.  Be careful not to over water as this can cause lawn fungal diseases like “grease-mold or cottony blight.”

6. Powdery mildew disease is likely to strike under the cover of darkness when the humidity and temperatures are very high.  The foliage displays slightly raised, blister-like white deposits.  Leaves are slightly stunted at the onset of the disease, becoming curled and twisted after the spores spread over the leaf surface. This disease occurs on host plants (apple, apricot, azalea, birch, blueberry, boxwood, cherry, clematis, crabapple, crapemyrtle, euonymus, grapes, hawthorn, holly, lilac, mock orange, mountain laurels, nectarine, pear, peach, photinia, privet, pyracantha, quince, rhododendron, rose, spirea, viburnum, and willow) from late July through September.  Infuse systemic fungicide sprayed in the evening when no rain is forecast will protect plants against powdery mildew, as well as leafspots and rust for two weeks.

7. When tomato plants start to set fruit, drench the soil with Jack’s Classic water

soluble fertilizer, and repeat monthly.

8. Before leaving for vacation be sure to arrange for the care of your houseplants, outdoor container plants, and vegetable and herb gardens.  Remember to keep your garden producing vegetables, they need to be harvested to encourage more production.  It is also a good idea to prune back your annual flowers and perennials.  They will be just about in full bloom again when you return.

9. Remember to keep your lawn cut to a height of 2.5" to 3" inches.  This helps keep the lawn healthy while discouraging weeds to take up home.  Always keep the mower blades sharp.  A reminder that lawns planted in our heavy Talbot County soils require about an inch of rain per week, so if no rain, irrigate.  Remember a lawn that is consistently and deeply watered has developed deep roots and will be just fine in spite of the heat and any drought conditions.  The best time to do this is early in the morning from 5 am to about 10 am, which is efficient water usage with little or no evaporation, and it washes away all the fungal problems from any overnight dew. Apply Milorganite (about 10lbs to 1000 sq. ft.) with a rotary spreader to provide a slow-release organic nitrogen to produce a superior lawn for August and September.

10. A reminder that frequent watering of container and patio plants as well as

hanging baskets leeches the nutrients from the soil.  You must fertilize to compensate for this loss.  We suggest using Jack’s Classic fertilizer at half the dose rate every other time you water.  Also, replace any soil that may have shrunk away with an organic compost such as Leafgro, or Composted Manure. 

 

WEEK FOUR:

1.  Rid your vegetable garden of rabbits by soaking corn cobs in vinegar overnight and scattering in the garden.  You can soak them again in two weeks to ensure that the rabbits stay out of your vegetable garden. 

2. Withered flowers clinging to azaleas are a symptom of azalea petal blight.  Check for live tissue in stems where old flowers remain in place.  Prune down the stem until you come to white or pale-green tissue where there is life.  Repeat on other stems as necessary.  Be sure to rake the soil clean of any dropped petals around the azaleas and spray with Infuse systemic fungicide by Bonide.

3.  Harvest dill and fennel when flower seeds turn brown. 

4. Replenish the mulch in your beds where necessary to help keep the roots cool and maintain appropriate moisture levels. Remember this is the hottest and driest time of the year, and don’t forget the winds are just as drying as the sun!

5. Control rust by avoiding overhead watering and dispose of infected foliage and twigs.  Apply Bonide’s Horticultural Oil, Mancozeb, or Liquid Copper, to help control this problem.

6. Everblooming roses like the “Knock-out” generally do not need deadheading; however, if they are not producing as expected, prune and deadhead and apply Rosetone by Espoma per the package instructions.  I would also suggest applying a water soluble fertilizer at half dose once a week.

7. Keep the garden and flower beds well weeded. This helps to conserve water and nutrients for your garden plants and flowers, not to mention keeping your beds beautiful.  Allowing them to go unchecked, weeds will quickly take over and produce thousands of new weed seeds. Stop the cycle keep your beds weeded.

8. Whitefly, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, aphids, and other insects multiply in the hot, humid conditions.  It is very important to spray any infestation at least three times with some form of neem, pyrethrum, insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or Systemic Insecticide.  Apply the second dose about a week after the first, and the third a week after the second.  This will insure you got all the insects and any hatching eggs.

9. Where you are losing too much light to tree branches, mark the limbs that can be removed to thin the canopy.  Late winter will be a good time to remove these limbs.

10. Remove water sprouts and suckers from around the base and trunks of flowering and fruiting trees.  Flowering Cherries usually need repeated attention to this task.  Prune dead wood on evergreen conifers and other trees and shrubs anytime.

 

How to Water Your Lawn

Lawns need water every week.  When you water, imitate a slow, soaking rain.  This allows the water to penetrate deep and the roots will grow down, away from the heat and drought at the surface.

When you water, lay down 1½” slowly and gently.

Purchase a sprinkler that delivers water slowly, avoiding wasteful runoff.

Between 5am and 10am is the most efficient time to water.  Water anytime your lawn retains footprints or the grass blades curl inward. Where soil is thin, the grass dries out first and turns a bluish color, signaling the need for water.

 

Yellowing leaves on plants, what does it mean?

          When you see yellow leaves on a plant, you know there’s a problem.  Unfortunately, this is the upset stomach of gardening - yellow leaves represent any number of conditions, including the following:

          * Too much water

          * Not enough water

          * Too much fertilizer

          * Not enough fertilizer

          * Exposure to cold temperatures

          * Exposure to hot temperatures

          * Disease  

          * Physical damage to the leaves

          * Damage to the roots

          * Old age of individual leaves

          If you see yellow leaves, look at the plant’s environment and see if you can detect one of the above problems.  Solving any of these problems may easily correct the yellowness.  In some cases, such as temperature related color changes, the problem may correct itself.  Sometimes deficiencies in fertilization can be corrected by checking the PH level or applying a form of iron which will help green up the leaves. 

 

Importance of pH in the Water Garden:

          Pond Fish will do best in water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.  Before putting fish into a new or recently dechlorinated pond, use a pH tester and take the pH readings for three days running.  Mornings, the water is nearest neutral.  If the pH is too high, use pH down to lower it.  If is too low, use pH up to raise it.  You can also raise pH using baking soda, adding one teaspoon of soda each day until the water test is satisfactory. 

          Most water gardeners don’t have pH problems, but to be on the safe side check it every two weeks.  An excess of fish and fish food create more ammonia than the plants absorb, which can raise the pH of the water up to over 8.0. Another solution to chemicals is simply cutting back of number of fish and the amount of fish food.  Only give enough food the fish can fully eat in five minutes or less.  If the fish become lethargic but show no sign of disease, this could be a sign that the pH is off.