Summertime gardening provides relief from heavy work
Summertime is here at last, and the living is easy - or at least it ought to be easier. Most of the heavy work of the year's gardening is over, and if you prepared your soil properly in the spring, only routine maintenance should be required during the heat of the summer. Even that maintenance is important.
Mulching will keep down weeds and conserve moisture, but you'll still have to pull some stubborn weeds and apply water on a regular schedule to bring to garden thorough the summer.
Of course, just about everything will benefit from a mid-summer feeding, and the vegetable garden needs regular harvesting to deep the plants in the tip-top shape. Here are a few other hints which may help.
œ Feed roses with systemic rose care - helps control insects and encourages continued blooming. Cut shorter stems when picking roses to conserve strength in the bush for later blooming. Apply ironite or chelated iron to azaleas, camellias and gardenias. Divid and replant crowded iris clumps. Lift and divide daffodils and other spring bulbs if they're crowded. Pull and compost any bloomed-out annuals. Put in stakes for dahlias, tomatoes, delphinium and gladiolus. Cut off faded iris blooms and stalks. Don't prune severely in summer; thin plants lightly instead. Spray with BT to control budworms. Roses are happiest with monthly feedings. Water and watch them smile.
œ Fertilize peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants for earlier crops and thick foliage. Water tomatoes, melons, and cucumbers deeply but infrequently. Remember that blossom-end rot on tomatoes and squash is usually caused by improper watering. Set out seeds of beans, carrots, corn and cucumber. Set out plants of eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. Feed vegetables regularly with mild feedings and harvest them regularly to keep up the ripening and production process. Check for squash or stink bugs under the leaves or on the fruit. Don't skip watering your vegetables; once growth slows, tissue hardens and vegetables are doomed to mediocrity. Chrenshaw melons are particularly susceptible to sunburn. When the melons are about half grown, place each one in a paper bag and taste the delicious results when they're ripe.
œ Set your lawn mower blades higher - up to three inches to reduce evaporation. Have your mower blades sharpened; a dull lawn mower increases chances of lawn diseases attacking damaged and torn grass blades. Check your lawn sprinklers to make sure all heads are operating properly. Dry spots are dead spots. Give your lawn an inch of water on Tuesday and Fridays at 6 a.m. Use combination fertilizer/insect control products to prevent insects while you feed your lawn.
œ Plant in late afternoon to give seedlings the night to recover and shade with shade cloth or fabric until transplants are established and hardened off. Mulch to slow evaporation and moderate high ground temperatures. A band of tanglefoot around a tree can prevent crawling bugs from damaging the fruit. Water plants early in the day for maximum growth and minimum disease problems. Use a flashlight at night to check for earwigs, snails and slugs.
œ Keep on friendly terms with your friends, relatives, and neighbors - you may want to unload some of your zucchini squash and other of your heavy bearing vegetables on them. Helping them pull weeds is a sure way to keep on good terms with them.
Backyard Gardener runs Saturdays. Write to our local master gardeners in care of the Appeal-Democrat, P.O. Box 431, Marysville, CA 95901.