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What a glorious month for gardening! In June, we harvest the end of our spring vegetables and enjoy the last spring bulb. Warm-weather perennials can be planted in June as well as any last tomatoes that need to get in the soil. This is also the time to keep an eye out for the teeming wildlife around your garden. I’m talking about weeds, pests and diseases. Find out how to prevent them all, below. Keep tending your garden and enjoy the budding summer!
Keep out the Weeds!
Now that the soil is warm and we still have some rain, everything should be growing like gangbusters- including the weeds. A weed is really any plant that we don’t want in that particular area of the garden. Many feral plants, that we consider weeds, have adapted to be very tenacious, vigorous growers, making it all the more imperative to keep them out! Here are a few tips to keeping the garden weed-free:
- Stay on top of them! Weed often, and when they are small, to prevent them from taking over. Use trowels, hoes and other tools to help you get the entire plant, root to tip.
- Know your seedlings! Being able to determine between a weed seedling and a vegetable or flower seedling will help with early weeding.
- Pull them before they go to seed! Otherwise, you will have not just one but a few hundred new weeds in the garden!
- Keep them out of the compost pile! Weed seeds can survive in compost (and germinate when it’s added to the garden). Additionally, some weeds grow from portions of roots or stems, making it better to put all noxious weeds in the yard waste bin instead.
For more tips on keeping out the weeds, visit the May page.
Most plants could use a boost of energy in the middle of the season. Trees, shrubs, perennials, flowers and vegetables are all working hard to photosynthesize, grow and produce. You can help them along with a nutrient boost! Add a handful (or shovel-full, depending on the size of the plant) of compost or manure to the top layer of soil, right at the base of a plant. You can also add Dr. Earth fertilizer or feed with fish emulsion, for mid-season pick-up.
Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)
How can you describe the wonder of the balloon flower? Tall stems with oval leaves shoot skyward in early summer. Then, flower buds begin to swell, taking on the appearance of a Japanese lantern (or balloon, hence the name) before they burst open into a wide, bell-shaped blossom. They appear in hues of violet-blue, periwinkle and pinkish white. These lovelies tend to grow slowly in the spring time so you can plant them along with spring bulbs, like daffodils, and they won’t interfere. Bloom time is July and August; deadhead all summer to encourage repeat blooms (and balloons). They prefer slightly acidic, humus-rich, well-drained soil. Balloon flowers have the added bonuses of excellent yellow fall foliage and deer resistance!
Summer Pest Watch
Warm temperatures mean that the garden pests are multiplying! A harmful infestation can happen quickly so it’s best to know how to handle it, ahead of time. Here are just a few common pests and the ways we combat them.
These tiny green creatures multiply rapidly, while sucking the sugar out of the leaves of your plants. There are many sprays you can buy that help to eradicate them. You can also buy and release ladybugs right onto the leaves of the infected plants. It’s best to release them late in the day or in the shade, if possible. A diluted soapy water solution can also work well for repelling aphids. Just spray it on the leaves then hose them down a day later.
If you have shade in your yard or just big leafy plants that create low-lying shade, you probably still have slugs. Slugs eat all manner of green leaves, sometimes right down to the stem. It’s best to get on top of them before they lay eggs! You can avoid them by keeping the soil dry and yard debris off the ground, taking away their habitat. There are many old gardeners’ tricks for getting rid of slugs: copper wire, salt, beer, etc. All of them are mildly effective. The best treatment we have found is the increasingly popular Sluggo. Sluggo prevents slugs from even getting near your plants. Sprinkle it around the base of plants, under the foliage to keep them at bay. You may need to reapply if it’s particularly rainy. Bye, bye slugs!
This is a damaging mold that infects many different plants, including squash, grapes, lilacs and many trees. The appearance is unmistakable: white, powdery dots and patches all over leaves that spread quickly (pictured above). Though it is rarely fatal, it does stress plants and can thwart photosynthesis. You can prevent powdery mildew by planting in the sun, as much as possible, and thinning plants to allow for good circulation (mildew likes moist, dark conditions). Remove infected plant material, immediately, to avoid spreading. Many fungicides, both organic and not, have been found to be productive at killing powdery mildew. Come see our selection at Furney’s!
Depending on how rural your neighborhood is, your garden may be invaded by deer, from time to time. They are beautiful, majestic creatures and can be fun to watch but, when you see what they do to your foliage, you’ll want to chase them out as fast as you see them. Deer love to eat succulent leaves and will eat your plants, especially vegetables, right down to the stem, essentially killing them. Follow these ideas for keeping your garden deer-free:
- Put up a fence to keep them physically away from your garden. Just make sure it’s at least 6 feet tall, as they are good jumpers.
- Wrap deer netting around plants that may be targeted by deer, like hosta, roses and pansies.
- Spray deer repellent on the leaves regularly, depending on rainfall.
- Place thin bamboo sticks into the ground, in among targeted plants. Placing several, close together, will prevent the deer from getting their head close enough to the foliage to eat it. The thin bamboo is fairly attractive and often barely visible from a distance.
- Use deer-repellent plants. There are several plants that deer just do not find appealing. Any plant with a thick, fuzzy texture, like lamb’s ears, (Stachys bizantina) will keep them away. They will also avoid plants with a strong taste, like chives (Allium odorum), mustard (Brassica rapa), calamint (Calamintia sylvatica) and most herbs.
- Another technique that can be effective is to give the deer clusters of plants to chow down on near the outskirts of your property so that they do not feel the need to approach your home gardens. The best plant for this is the native redtwig dogwood. A large screen of redtwig dogwoods will not only create a physical barrier between you and the deer, but redtwig dogwood leaves are soft, and happen to be one of the favorites of deer! Not only that, but chewing on the foliage will only make the redtwig dogwoods bush out more! They are tough plants!