6/20/14: In the garden this week


Summertime finally kicks into high gear in my garden when sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa) and new jersey tea (Ceanothus americana) bloom together, attracting gazillions of pollinators to the garden (which is probably a great help to the robins nesting in the nearby elderberry). This bed also contains little bluestem, junegrass, and several other perennials.

The only thing to do with perennials and native grasses all summer is to enjoy them and the wildlife they bring to the garden. If you have a little free time from all that dawdling around the garden enjoying the sights, you might consider the following:

keep newly installed perennials and woody plants well-watered throughout the growing season. The recommended amount is 1 inch per week during dry spells. Established plants should not need supplemental water.

do not do any pruning except removal of dead or diseased material while woody plants are in active growth. They are using all their energy to accomplish the vital tasks of blooming, and setting fruit. They have no energy to spare for making scar tissue. The next window of pruning time will come in midsummer.

– for better bloom next year, remove the flowers of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilacs after they finish blooming. The exception, of course, is fertile, fruit-bearing shrubs such as native dogwoods and viburnums.

monitor the vegetable garden for pests and diseases and take action immediately. In particular, remove plants affected by borers and wilt, and hand-pick to keep pest populations low.

water tomatoes deeply (up to 2” per week) until fruit begins to ripen, then cut back to 1” per week. Remember to take rainfall amounts into account when determining how much to water. Water in the morning, and water deeply. Continue to stake and tie tomato plants and to remove suckers.

— pick peas while young; make pesto before plants begin to flower, remove early spring greens and lettuce when they bolt. Most vegetables taste better young.

— perennials should need no care except pinching to promote bushy plants and keep plants short when necessary

We’ve had lots of rain recently, so you should not need to do any watering for a while. Enjoy the weekend!


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