Spring at Last!?
Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting this month’s newsletter out. There apparently is a respiratory bug going around the Chelsea area, and it seems to have found me. One of the side-affects appears to be difficulty in thinking from one side of the brain to the other for extended periods (more than two minutes!), which makes it very difficult to concentrate on things like writing informational newsletters. I seem to be making some inroads on getting better though, so I’m going to try to get this done. Forgive me if it appears that I lose track of a thought at any point!
Have you seen any of the predictions for our summer? Do the weather people drive you as nuts as they do me?! We have Mark Torregrossa at MLive saying he thinks it’s going to be cooler than usual this summer (based on historical weather patterns after high ice coverage on the Great Lakes), but the people at the National Weather Service say “overall, summer is expected to feature slightly wetter-than normal and slightly warmer-than normal conditions.” Who do we believe? I guess it doesn’t matter – we’re going to get what we get, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.
In this month’s issue of Let’s Get Gardening
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In this month’s issue:
The main thing that is upsetting me about being sick is that I have not been able to get out into my garden the last few days – you know, pretty much the only days it hasn’t rained in the last month! I have been longingly looking out at the breezy sunshine, thinking about how much I need to get done, and then rolling over and going back to sleep. Needless to say, my veggie garden is waayyy behind.
Once I’m back to feeling up to it, I have a lot of catching up to do in my gardens and yard. In the meantime, here are some things you can be doing.
In the veggie garden:
- If you haven’t gotten all of your veggies planted yet, get them in as soon as you can. We have a short growing season, and many of the things we all love to grow – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, etc. – all need long growing periods to produce a good crop. So the sooner you can get them planted, the better.
- Plant seeds of carrots, bush beans, dill, and cilantro every week or two through about mid-July. This way, you can be sure to have a continuous harvest throughout the season.
- Be sure to immediately and thoroughly water anything you plant, and make sure the soil is kept moist where you sow seeds.
- I can’t stress enough how important it is to start spraying tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash with an organic fungicide as soon as you get the plants in the ground – and continue to do so on a regular basis throughout the season (usually weekly).
- Weeding is also an important part of keeping your plants healthy and producing, even if it’s not everyone’s favorite chore. Weeds compete for water and nutrients, and they can also be disease carriers.
In the flower garden:
- You can still direct-sow lots of annual flower seeds, and expect to get blooms this year. Some to consider include cosmos, four o’clocks, marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and zinnias.
- Plant summer-blooming bulbs now if you haven’t already. This includes dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, begonias and canna lilies.
- Wait to trim back the foliage of your spring blooming bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips, and alliums until the foliage has died completely.
- Early June is prime planting time for perennials and annuals, but be sure to water them in well when you plant them, and keep them well-watered throughout the season. Perennials will be spending the summer putting out lots of roots so that they can be well-established when winter hits.
- Annuals also need to be fertilized regularly throughout the season. Producing flowers takes a lot of energy, which uses up a lot of nutrients.
- The secret to keeping your container plantings blooming all summer long is also to keep them fed and watered. As containers fill up with roots, they don’t hold water very well, so be sure to check their moisture levels daily.
- I’m already seeing some pests in my gardens, especially aphids. Aphid damage is often seen as curling and distortion on stem tips, leaves, and buds. While most healthy, mature plants can easily withstand a few of them, the biggest problem with aphids is that they reproduce like crazy, and they really like tender, new growth.
- Set your indoor plants outside for the summer, but make sure that they will be protected from winds, and give them some shade so they don’t get scorched by the direct sun.
Trees and shrubs:
- Prune back early-blooming shrubs (those that were finished blooming before the end of May) this month. This will encourage new growth and more flowers next spring.
- Most tree pruning should be done in the dead of winter, but prune damaged or dead branches on trees any time. Clemson University also has page with information on pruning trees here.
- Don’t “seal” pruning wounds when you prune trees. The old way of thinking was that you needed to, in order to keep diseases from setting in. New information has shown that it isn’t effective, and can actually cause more problems by keeping the area moist.
- You can pinch back evergreens once they have put out new growth. Pinching the new “candles” back by half will encourage them to bush out. But don’t cut into old wood, as most evergreens won’t produce new shoots from old growth.
- It’s not too late to plant new trees and shrubs, but sooner is better – just be very vigilant about keeping them watered all the way through until the ground is frozen in the winter to give them the best chance at surviving both the dry heat of summer and the dry cold of winter.
- Be sure your trees and shrubs have a good layer of mulch over their roots to keep them evenly moist and to prevent weeds. Mulch should extend out to the tree’s dripline (the circumference of the tree’s canopy), but not be placed right up against the trunk.
- Water trees and shrubs if we aren’t getting sufficient rain. Newly planted trees and shrubs should be carefully watered for the same reason newly planted flowers need to be – they aren’t as good at taking up water while the roots are getting established. But be careful about how you water any tree or shrub.
For the Birds:
- When you are out in your yard, keep an eye out for things like killdeer nests (they build their nests on the ground), and be careful to keep activity away from them as much as possible. Also watch out for baby birds that have left the nest but not yet mastered flight.
- Clean out and refill hummingbird and oriole feeders regularly. Sugar-water left out in the hot sun can quickly spoil, and become bacteria-filled.
- Remember to clean out and fill your bird baths regularly. Bird baths provide your birds with a place to get a drink or a good bath, and provide you with lots of entertainment, as you watch them playing in the water.
Dad probably doesn’t need another tie.
Come in to find great Father’s Day gifts Dad
will really enjoy, including garden tools, bird houses,
bird feeders, weather vanes, fire pits, and more!
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