Wanna get down and dirty in the garden with me? We can train the tomato vines, smother the weeds, and deadhead the spent spring flowers. Afterwards, we can make something delicious to eat! The fun starts here:
Watering. Drought sometimes occurs this month just when the steady growth of everything requires moisture. If Nature doesn’t handle the watering chores, your garden hose will.
Compost. To speed up decay, fork over your compost pile and soak it thoroughly. Or, just be lazy like me, and drink a martini instead.
Container Gardens. Keep in mind that plants confined to hanging baskets, window boxes, or pots can’t forage for food and moisture as they would in the open garden. Consequently, feed and water these container plants daily. I water mine twice a day during periods of high heat. (Pictured above, in my Herb Garden: purple Calibrachoa)
Weeds and Newspaper. If pulling weeds isn’t your idea of a good time — I can’t bear the job — smother the offenders with either cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, as above. Then top the paper with shredded leaves or wood chips. Watch me “newspaper mulch” a perennial bed.
Vinegar for Weed-Control. I use common white vinegar to eliminate the weeds which emerge in my brick, gravel, and blue-stone walkways. Watch me vinegar-ize the weeds in my gravel paths.
Astilbe. Discover these deer-resistant plants that sprout fragrant spires of pink, white or red in light shade. They need considerable moisture throughout the summer months.
Chrysanthemum. Pinch top- and side-growth back now and through July.
Iris. Remove at the ground level all stalks bearing faded flowers. I hope you have the twice-blooming types that flower again in the fall.
Primula japonica. Keep this deer-resistant “candelabra primrose” moist, and it will bloom for you through all of June. Details and pictures.
Roses. Enjoy them now before the Japanese beetle makes its horrid return. And if blackspot is present on foliage, control it with a simple solution of milk and water.
Or, simply move to France. There, blackspot is minimal, and Japanese beetles are unheard of.
And please, please, please do not use Bayer “Rose & Flower Care” anywhere in your garden. Studies have shown that the product’s active ingredient, Clothianidin, is at least partly responsible for honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder. More details here.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.
Tomatoes. In the interest of high-quality fruit, remove suckers. Also, tie vines to vertical supports. This year, I’m incorporating crushed egg shells into the soil around my plants. According to research, the shells slowly release calcium, a substance which reduces the chance of blossom-end rot. See all my tomato-growing tips.
Blueberries and strawberries. Keep in mind that birds are interested in the ripening fruit as much you are. Consider covering the plants with a floating row cover. And if your strawberries are ready for harvest, you really ought to nab some for my Glazed Strawberry Tart (above). Here’s the easy recipe.
Loveage. If you have this perennial herb in your garden, why not enjoy its celery-flavored leaves? I think they make a delicious salad all on their own. You can also turn the leaves into Lemony Lovage Pesto (pictured above). Here’s the recipe.
Salad Greens. Make new sowings now to replace older crops which have bolted. Otherwise, replant the salad bed with beans, turnips, or beets — all these are quick to grow, and they won’t faint in the summer heat.
Potatoes. Whenever stems reach 6 inches in length, cover all but the top 2 inches with soil, shredded leaves, or weed-free straw. Continue this routine for the first month or so. New potato-bearing stolons will emerge along these covered parts. See my potato-growing guide.
Chives. Be sure to make Chive Blossom Vinegar (my easy recipe) before flowers fade. You’ll be happy to have this pink, flavorful infusion when winter arrives.
And what about the the green stems of chives? I’d turn them into this utterly-addictive Chive Pesto.
Garlic. If you planted the hard-neck type, as I did last fall, be sure to remove flowering stalks or “scapes” to encourage further development of the bulbs. I use the scapes to make the best dipping sauce in the world.
Houseplants. These enjoy a summer holiday outdoors as much as children do. Of course, out of doors musn’t mean out of sight, out of mind; houseplants require considerable attention during the warm season. Give them plentiful food and moisture.
Are my monthly lists of garden chores helpful to you? Perhaps you can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you.
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