7/4/14: In the garden this week

Hurray for the orange, pink, and yellow! This time of year is when my garden displays the wonderful bright colors of our native perennials.

There’s not much to do in the summer garden except enjoy it, but if you’re feeling energetic–or if the rain lets up–you might consider some of these tasks:

– 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 recent storms brought about 2 inches of rain to my garden, so there’s 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. A window of pruning time will come within the next couple of weeks.

– 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 do 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’ll have to mow.

Enjoy your garden this holiday weekend. Use your freedom to make this country better for everyone.

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