Have you seen anything about what the weather people are saying about our weather now? We are apparently in a “ring of fire” weather pattern. I can’t keep up with all the terms they have for our weather – we had a “polar vortex” and a “cyclone bomb” earlier this year, and now this. This phenomenon apparently means we will be experiencing this extreme heat for a little longer, and could see some occasional intense thunderstorms. However, they are also saying that we will go back into a cooler-than-usual and wetter-than-usual pattern mid-month. They don’t seem to be able to make up their minds for what is going to happen after that though, so we will just have to wait and see what Mother Nature decides to throw at us.
In this month’s issue of Let’s Get Gardening
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In this month’s issue:
With all the rain we got in May and June, many of our gardens are way behind where they normally would be at this point. This year was the latest I have ever planted my veggie garden, and I just never got around to some things, like peas. I did plant radishes, lettuce, and spinach in June, which I would normally never do, but I figured I would give it a try just in case the weather decided to stay cool all the way through the summer. That obviously didn’t happen, but those veggies haven’t bolted yet, so who knows – I may still get to eat some of them. And I am planning to plant a fall crop of peas later this summer, just because I can’t stand the thought of not having any fresh peas this year!
There’s a lot to do this month in the garden and yard, but I’ll be doing it early in the morning or late in the evening, to avoid the heat while it sticks around.
In the veggie garden:
- All the rain we got has made conditions ripe for diseases in the vegetable garden, so be sure to keep up a regular schedule of spraying with your favorite organic fungicide. MSU extension is saying that we should be on the lookout for cucumber downy mildew (which can affect watermelon and cantaloupe in addition to cucumbers), and early blight is already being seen in tomatoes in Michigan.
- Another disease of concern this year because of all the rain is phytophthora root rot – a fungus that can affect many plants, including cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, clematis, lilies, sedum, and many trees and shrubs (this is not a complete list!). MSU extension has reported issues with this disease in peppers already this season.
- One key to preventing the spread of disease in your garden is to not do too much when everything is wet. You can easily transport disease from one plant to another with your tools, hands, and anything else that comes in contact with the plants, such as gloves or clothing.
- The rain (followed by this heat) has certainly made all the weeds happy! It’s a real challenge to keep on top of weeds right now, but it’s necessary, because they can get out of control quickly. Weeds are another way some diseases get spread to your garden plants, so keeping them out can only help in the fight against disease.
- This month is time to fertilize or “side dress” your vegetable plants. This will give the plants a little extra boost when they need it most. By this time, the plants have used up most of the available nutrition in your garden (or it’s been diluted by all the rain).
- July is also a time for planting and starting new seedlings for fall harvest. Broccoli and cabbage make good succession crops (crops planted after another crop has been harvested). Start them inside by no later than July 10th.
- In addition to diseases and weeds, pests are really getting going in the garden now. So far, I haven’t seen a great deal of damage to my veggies from insects, though I have notices some holes that look like flea beetle damage. I have been seeing cabbage moths fluttering about, so will be on the lookout for their eggs on my kale and other cruciferous plants over the next few weeks.
- I wish that, because we got a lot of rain in May and June, we could skip watering the rest of the summer. But we all know it doesn’t work that way. So make sure that your plants are getting an inch of water every week – whether from you or Mother Nature.
In the flower garden:
- Give your flowering plants a little fertilizer boost now too. They’re busy putting on a good show for you, and that takes a lot of energy, so help them out with some added nutrition. Fertilize flowers in containers weekly.
- Deadheading is also key to keeping a lot of your plants flowering. If you let the spent flowers go to seed, many plants will stop producing flowers and work on maturing the seeds.
- Make note of plants that are looking leggy or are showing signs of thinning or dying back at the center. This is an indication that you need to do some dividing. Dividing should be done when the plants are not in bloom, so wait until after they have finished blooming.
- Put supports in for taller plants to keep them from flopping over as they grow.
- Don’t forget to water your flower gardens when we aren’t getting at least an inch of rain each week. This is especially important when it’s as hot as it’s been this past week.
- With all the rain, it’s been hard to keep up with mowing. Remember to only take off the top third of the grass blades each time you mow.
- Also remember to keep your grass cut to no lower than 3 inches. This helps to suppress weeds in the grass, and helps provide shade to the roots during the hot sunny days of summer.
- Try not to walk on the lawn too much or use heavy equipment when it’s really wet. Doing so can compact the soil, especially if you have heavy clay soil as most of us in SE Michigan do.
Trees & Shrubs:
- Don’t be surprised if some of your trees have leaves turning yellow and dropping now. If the leaves are yellow or tan, with no or few spots, the likely cause is all the rain we had, followed by the sudden extreme heat, and your trees should be fine, as long as they aren’t recent transplants (last year or this year).
- Trees planted this year and even late last year should be watched for water needs now. Just like with your veggies and flowers, if we aren’t getting about an inch a week, you should provide supplemental water for them.
- Do not apply fertilizer to trees or shrubs after the 4th of July, to avoid a flush of new growth that doesn’t have time to harden before winter, and don’t prune after early August.
For the birds:
- Keep your feeders cleaned out and filled. Ditto for your birdbaths.
Summer is the time to enjoy your outdoor spaces, and we can help with that! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be receiving shipments of all kinds of great items for decorating your yard and garden, including gorgeous concrete and granite birdbaths and statuary; wrought iron arbors, trellises, fencing, and furniture; and decorative stakes, gazing balls, and spinners.
Come in often to see all the great new items and find just the right piece for your garden!
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