6/27/14: In the garden this week

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The garden is becoming colorful! In this picture you see yellow sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa), which has been in bloom for a couple of weeks, and pink beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), and orange butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), which have just begun to bloom–a bit late this year. The very tall plant on the left is sweet joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), which will be in bloom very soon. Usually my garden turns pink around June 10, when the beebalm, queen of the prairie, coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and red milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) all come into bloom together. Everything is still a bit late this year.

keep newly installed perennials and woody plants well-watered throughout the growing season. The recommended amount is 1 inch per week during dry spells. The storm on Wednesday night brought between 1 and 2 inches of rain to my garden, so there should be no need to water this week. 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 and mountain laurel after they finish blooming. The exception, of course, is 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; cut down basil plants to  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

— lawns should not need watering this week because we’ve had ample rain, and they need no fertilizer until early fall, if then. Mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the grass. Remember that the more you water, the more you have to mow.

Here’s the red or swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in full bloom yesterday:

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