Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June Gardening Chores

Blooming has been incredible this year, from the Lilacs, Viburnums, and Rhododendrons to some lesser known plants including Kolkwitzia (Beauty Bush) which has pink flowers with yellow throats. This large, vase shaped, old fashioned shrub is blooming with abandon right now, but goes unnoticed the rest of the year, even the deer don’t seem to find it attractive. I have also been asked frequently about Cladrastis (Yellow Wood) a mid size, fast growing tree which has had fragrant white blooms dripping all over it the past few weeks. Both are at the end of their bloom cycle now, but are hardy and relatively pest free plants.
Garden chores for June: Prune! A good rule of thumb is to prune a woody plant after it finishes blooming which means now is an excellent time to tame your Syringa (Lilacs), Rhododendrons, Wisteria, Viburnums and Pieris. This way you can shape them as needed without sacrificing next year’s blooms.

Set out your vegetable transplants on a cloudy day to prevent wilting. When buying vegetable plants it is better to purchase stocky ones rather than tall spindly ones.

After harvesting your spring lettuces and radishes, Plant fall harvest crops such as beans, turnips, late cabbage and Brussel Sprouts. It is also a good time to mulch your garden to help keep the weeds down and the moisture levels up.

Father’s Day is June 21th, give dad a special treat and mow the lawn for him. Or help him weed out the crabgrass. Young crabgrass is fairly easy to pull out (be sure to get the roots), and spot seed bare areas with a “patch” mix (typically a blend of mulch and lawn seed). This will help keep the seed moist to encourage germination as the days and nights get warmer.

Consider keeping your lawns longer, mow at 2” to 3”. The UMass Turf department states that longer blades of grass correlate to deeper roots (and deeper roots need less frequent watering).

The Red Lily Beetle is active and laying eggs. This beetle eats the leaves of all true lilies (Lilium spp) and Frittillaria, and they can decimate those plants. They do not eat Day Lilies (Hemerocallis spp). You can easily hand remove the bright red beetles from the Lilly leaves and dispose of them, but also check under the leaves for the slug like egg masses and remove those as well.

For new plantings, soaker hoses get the water to the root level rather than wasting it on the leaves. And don’t water in the middle of the day on a hot, sunny day. This includes lawns. The water will evaporate before it gets to the roots, and may even cause scorching (sun burn) on the leaves of some plants.