7/12/13: In the garden this week

The first Rudbeckia opens--summer is really here!

Okay, I’m cheating–this picture was taken almost a week ago, and it was taken by my husband, a much better photographer than I will ever be. But it makes the point about what’s happening in the garden better than any picture I’ll ever take. It emphatically states, “The Rudbeckias are opening! It’s summer!”

Summer, for me, is the time to walk slowly around the garden, in a zenlike state, observing the changes that take place every day, watching the pollinators at work, starting to make plans for next year. It’s certainly not the time to do any heavy garden work, especially to plant.

– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. There is no need to fertilize or water. 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; let most remain to feed the birds next winter. I deadhead only when all seeds have ripened

– 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. Pull up bean plants when they stop producing.

– continue to stake tomato plants firmly as they grow and to remove all suckers. As plants begin to produce fruit, cut back on watering to prevent cracking.

– monitor the garden carefully for pests and diseases; high rainfall in June and high humidity in July are leading to fungal diseases, although most are not severe enough to threaten a plant’s health (more on that in a future post)

Technically, it’s OK to prune now, but I don’t do that in summer unless absolutely necessary. It’s hard work in the heat.

The photo above shows Rudbeckia subtomentosa, a tall, aggressive plant that would take over my whole perennial garden if I didn’t dig some up every year in early spring.  In spite of its thuglike behavior, it’s hard not to love this plant,  because it’s not a particular favorite of deer or rabbits, it’s carefree, and it blooms from July through October. I grow another Rudbeckia, R. triloba, which will start to bloom in another week or so and that that I think is much prettier. Photos to come.

Enjoy your garden this weekend.




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