Dear Gardening Friends,
We’ve had a nice break from daily rain and the gardening season is in full swing. There is so much to do all at once it’s hard to know where to start. The following are some suggestions.
- Night temperatures are mostly in the 50’s although it was 46 at our house last night. Most annuals can safely be planted but be prepared to cover them on cold nights. I still haven’t put my basil out but it is happy and protected near the garage.
- If you have perennials that need to be divided or moved, do it as soon as you can. They will adjust much better before the hot weather comes.
- Any newly planted or moved plants should be watered almost daily depending on how much sun they are in. It’s best to water them before they get droopy as drying out saps their strength and makes them weak. Once their roots are well established they will be more tolerant of dry periods.
- Weeding is a huge priority. With all the rain everything, including the weeds, are growing rampant. Don’t let them get ahead of you. Once they are well established weeds are much more difficult to remove and they drop seeds to make more weeds for you to deal with.
- Once the weeding is done cover the bare ground with a few inches of organic mulch like compost or finely ground pine bark mulch. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the crowns of plants. The mulch serves many purposes:
- It helps prevent weeds and if some do pop up they are easily removed.
- Reduces the amount of water evaporation so you don’t have to water as often
- Using compost as a mulch will add nutrients to the soil and reduce the need for fertilization.
- A variety of mulches are available by the bag and by the yard from nurseries and garden centers. Check what the ingredients are before buying.
- Avoid the new colored wood mulch products. The dyes are not good for the environment and they do nothing to add nutrients to the soil.
- Pinch back perennials that get very tall to reduce the final height and promote branching and increase bloom. Common plants for this are phlox, asters, mums and sedum.
- When purchasing plants whether annuals or perennials it’s better to choose ones in bud rather than in full bloom. This allows the plant to set roots rather than spend its energy keeping flowers going.
- With all the rain there are fungal diseases showing up. Keep an eye out. Organic products are available to treat fungal disease but must be applied before symptoms show up. Pre-treating susceptible plants is important.
- Due to the mild winter the deer tick population has increased as has the incidence of Lymes disease. People are finding them in their gardens. Wherever there are deer and black footed mice there is a chance of ticks. For complete information and suggestions check out the Department of Health in Erie County’s website: http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=ticks-lyme-disease. It has a video of how to remove a tick and info on how to prevent as well as identify.