7/5/13: In the garden this week

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Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), an iconic native perennial, the one everyone knows and loves, doesn’t do well in my garden. Critters devour it, and it really prefers a site that’s wetter than mine. But every year one or two pop up to surprise me, as this one did yesterday. Just two of the many benefits of growing native species are that they are very tough, and they can self-seed.

The weather is finally heating up, so stay cool and enjoy the garden. In summer, what I mostly do in the garden is admire it:

– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. There is no need to fertilize or water—we’ve had more than enough rain. In hot weather the grass wants to go dormant, so let it.

– as perennials finish blooming, leave the dead flowers on the plants. Collect seeds as they ripen throughout the season; most will remain to feed the birds next winter.

– if you have not already done so, pull out early spring greens, such as arugula, spinach,  and lettuce, as well as pea plants after they finish producing; compost all these plants unless they are diseased

– continue to plant beans, kale, chard, and other members of the brassica clan if you have room; harvest squash, and beans before they get large and tough.

– continue to stake tomato plants firmly as they grow and remove all suckers

– monitor the vegetable garden carefully for pests and diseases

Raspberries are ripening in my garden, and if I’m very lucky this week I will beat the catbirds to at least a few of them.

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