To Do in the Garden – June

06 2013-05-17 Rhodies Pink and PurpleSummer is coming and June’s warm temperatures make it safe to plant anything and everything!  No more need to worry about cold temperatures at night!  From tender annuals to the vegetable seedlings you’ve been nurturing indoors, everything can go outside now.  Remember, it is advisable to harden off tender plants before planting them outside.  See details in May’s To Do List.  Once you’ve planted up, get ready for everything to take off quickly!  Keep on top of pests, diseases, and weeds before they become a problem.  It’s also time to cut back or prune spring flowering bulbs, perennials, and shrubs.

 

Your Entire Property

  • Walk around your property and inspect your lawns, beds, trees, and shrubs.  Look for problems that need to be addressed and changes you would like to make.  If you have questions, snap a few photos or put a sample of a branch or your lawn in a baggie and bring it in.  We’ll help you identify issues and recommend solutions if needed.
  • Check for slugs during rainy periods, especially in your veggie garden and in your beds where you have low growing, leafy plants, such as hostas.  Hand pick slugs or sprinkle iron phosphate bait.
  • Weed prevention and removal is important for a number of reasons. Weeds steal moisture and nutrients from your plants and they contribute to the spread of diseases and insects.  Pull weeds now before they go to seed.

 

Lawn

  • Make sure that the blades on your lawn mower are sharp.  Dull blades tear the grass rather than cutting it cleanly, which stresses the plant and makes it more vulnerable to disease.  Lawn mower blades should be sharpened after every 10 hours of use.
  • Do not mow the lawn when it is wet, as grass can be damaged.
  • Gradually raise the blades on your lawn mower so that by the end of the month you are leaving your grass at 3 to 3.5″ tall.  Lawns maintained at the correct height are less likely to have disease and weed infestation.  Taller grass provides its own shade, which keeps the soil cooler as we head into the hotter months.
  • Use a self-mulching mower without a bag.  Allow the grass clippings to stay on your lawn where they will decompose quickly and add their nutrients back into the soil.
  • If your lawn needs it, you can apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – All Season Lawn Food.  (Can be applied from April to June.)
  • If needed, put down a second application of pre-emergent crabgrass preventer.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Look for holes in the leaves of crabapples, flowering and fruiting cherries, peaches, birches, maples, etc.  If you see damage, check more closely for caterpillars which can be hard to see.  Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew is an organic product that kills caterpillars and other insects that feast on your plants.  Its active ingredient is Spinosad, a very safe bacterial insecticide.  It does have some toxicity to bees so do not spray the tree when in full bloom or when bees are most active.  (Late evening is a good time to spray.)  Re-apply after it rains.
  • Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs (dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, pieris, quince, spiraea, forsythia, lilacs, etc.).  It is best to prune these trees and shrubs right after they finish flowering, otherwise you will end up cutting off the buds for next year’s flowers.  Rejuvenate by completely removing older stems.
  • If you are not pruning, you can deadhead spent flowers to re-route energy into the leaves, stems, and roots for a more vigorous plant.
  • Apply a second dose of fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Organic Holly-Tone.

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Stake any plants that flopped last year.
  • Cut back dianthus, candytuft, rockcress, and other spring-flowering perennials strongly after they have finished flowering.
  • Apply another application of weed preventer such as corn gluten meal which also serves as an organic fertilizer.
  • Add compost as you plant new annuals and perennials to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Apply mulch right after you have weeded to deter new seeds from germinating.  Mulch will also help retain water in the soil later in the season.
  • Apply a second application of fertilizer.  We recommend Espoma’s Organic Plant-Tone.
  • Cut off spent flowers before they go to seed.  This will allow the plant to direct its energy into its leaves, stems, and roots.
  • Apply slug bait if needed under the leaves of large-leaved plants such as hostas.
  • Watch for and control black spot and powdery mildew on rose foliage.  Water your roses with soaker hoses or drip irrigation to reduce the spread of disease.  Keep your roses and the ground around them clean.  Pick off spent flowers.  Cut back any unhealthy canes.  Apply organic Neem Oil as a pesticide and fungicide.
  • Remove foliage from spring bulbs after it turns yellow and begins to dry.  Daffodils and other bulb plants can be transplanted at this time.  Mark bulb plants with color-coded plastic golf tees if you are planning on reorganizing or adding to your garden in the fall and want to remember where your bulbs are.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • It is safe to put out your summer annuals now.  We have a great selection of ready-made custom containers, or our creative staff would be happy to plant up your containers or window boxes with plants of your choosing.
  • Treat your flowering annuals to a “bloom booster” fertilizer every week to two weeks throughout the summer to encourage ongoing color.
  • Keep plants neat and encourage more flowers by deadheading throughout the summer.
  • Trim trailing plants in containers and hanging baskets to keep them full and healthy.

 

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • It is probably safe to bring your houseplants and tropicals outside for the summer.  You might want to keep them in a sheltered, slightly shady location for a few weeks until they get acclimatized to life outdoors.
  • For plants staying indoors, move them to a cooler room if necessary.

 

Vegetables and Fruits

  • We have a great selection of veggie and herb seedlings.  It’s safe to plant them all now.
  • Direct seed now:  beans, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, dill, and cilantro.
  • Transplant seedlings now:  Heat loving plants including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, okra, squash, sweet marjoram, and basil.
  • Transplant seedlings now:  Late crops including beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, rutabagas, turnips, green onions, endive, radicchio, and celery.
  • Exhaustive lists of when to plant seeds or transplant seedlings are available online for additional crops.  Seed packages also include planting details.  Botanical Interests seed packets provide extensive information.
  • Try protecting your newly transplanted seedlings from cutworms, and slugs with collars.  Cut paper towel or toilet paper tubes into pieces and put them around your seedlings while they are still small enough to fit through.  Or, cut strips of cardboard two inches wide by eight inches long, staple them into circles and place them around the plants.  Press the collar about one inch into the soil.  These collars will fence out the cutworms and protect the stems of the vegetable plants.
  • Cut off onion and garlic flower stalks from the top of the plants to direct all of the plant’s energy into the developing bulb instead of seed production.  Garlic scapes are a wonderful addition to a stir-fry, or sauté them and eat them on their own.
  • The best time to harvest most herbs is just before they flower, when the leaves contain the maximum essential oils.
  • Water as needed.  A garden needs one inch of rain or water each week.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungus diseases.  Watering the soil rather than the plant also helps to reduce risk of disease.  Mulch plants to reduce water losses and improve yields.
  • Thin out seedlings and plants as needed.
  • If you haven’t done so yet, set up stakes and cages for tomatoes and other plants that will need them before they get too big.  As plants grow, regularly tuck the branches inside of the cage.
  • Test soil and apply garden lime if needed.
  • Identify insects before you attempt to control them.  Some might be beneficial carnivorous insects that you want to encourage in your garden.  Many organic products exist to help control insect pests.  Even with organic products, read the label carefully, and apply as directed.