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Forest, VA
 
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SUMMER Time!

Summer seems to have arrived.  90 degree days, high humidity, lots of bugs and plenty of complaints.  Just a few weeks or was it days ago the complaints were about the cold, now it’s heat and humidity. It doesn’t matter what kind of weather we have people complain and when it changes within about 48 hours they want it to change again.  No more than 50% of people are ever satisfied with the weather.  I think I am a rarity, weather really bothers me little or none.  I do like extremes, in winter, I like it cold and in summer, I like it hot.  It’s nice, however, to have some spring and fall thrown in for a break.

What can we do to combat some of the damage caused by summer conditions, mainly heat and dry.  First, remember that when a plant, such as a tomato flops, it does not necessarily mean that it needs water.  They flop to protect themselves from heat.  If you see your tomatoes flopped at 3 in the afternoon, check them first thing the next morning, if they are standing tall, they did not need water.  We see more damage on gardens from over watering than we do under watering.  I really don’t know that it has gotten dry enough this spring to need to water.

If you are going to water your lawn, remember watering once every 7 to 10 days for a couple of hours is far superior to watering daily for 20 minutes, regardless of what the irrigation sales people say. You use less water and the grass will look much better.  The ground needs to be wet to a depth of at least 4 inches and 20 minutes will not get it wet an inch deep.

Also, be aware that not all holes and leaf damage are caused by insects.  Water standing on the leaf will cause spots to rot and fall out of the leaf.  Water standing on the plant foliage also causes most of the plant disease we see.  When you water try not to wet the plant foliage.  That is why a soaker hose is far superior to a sprinkler system for watering your plants. I know Mother Nature doesn’t abide by these rules, she wets the foliage, but just like in other things, mother knows best.

Last thought, most of what I have just written applies to in the ground plantings, container plants have to be treated differently.  We will talk about them at another time.

 
Summer Maintenance Tips

Gary's Lawn and Garden Maintenance Tips for Summer

  1. Mowing frequency continues to be high.  Grass should still be cut no shorter than 2 ½ to 3 inches high.  Try not to cut off more than 1 inch at a time.  Grass clippings are great for the yard so leave them on the lawn if you only cut an inch off.  They will be gone in 48 hours through decay.
  2. New growth is beginning to flush out on shrubbery so pruning is likely needed.  Most shrubs can be pruned at this time.
  3. Monitor shrubs, flowers and vegetables for insects.  Remember just because you see holes and ragged leaves do not mean it is insect damage.  It well may be where water has stood on the leaves and caused them to rot.  If you don’t see bugs you likely don’t have bug problems.
  4. Beds should be weeded on a weekly basis.  If you wait the weeds will be so big they are hard to pull.  An old household spray bottle with a mild mixture of roundup is a great way to keep beds clean.
  5. Lawns are loaded with broadleaf weeds.  An application of broadleaf weed control every 6 to 8 weeks is the only way to have a weed free lawn.  An application of weed and feed only kills the weeds that are there when it is applied; it does not keep new weeds from coming into the lawn.
  6. If you are irrigating your lawn (with all the rain I don’t know why you would be) one application per week of an inch is much better than 20 minute bursts of water daily.
  7. If you are watering newly planted shrubs and trees a deep watering once a week is much better than a daily watering.
  8. Beds can be mulched now if needed.  Try to never have the mulch deeper than 2 to 3 inches with 2 being best.  Don’t pile the mulch against the base of plants.
  9. If your vegetable garden is planted in the ground you likely will do more harm than good at present by watering.  That may change if the summer gets hot and dry.  Try to keep the water off the leaves if you do water.

 
Plant of the Month: Vinca

VINCA
"Provides Garden Color with very little care"Vinca

Drought Tolerant

Native to Madagascar

Blooms Late Spring to the First Frost in the Fall

Glossy Green Leaves

A Wide Variety of Bloom Colors

 

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Plant of the Week - Vinca

Vinca

Vinca

·         With blue, purple or white flowers paired with dark, glossy leaves, the periwinkle plant is a fast-growing crawling vine that will quickly cover trouble spots in your garden.

·         A member of the Dogbane family, the Vinca minor and Vinca major will take root in virtually any area as long as you provide adequate water.

·         The vining plants will thrive in partial sun and will produce blooms most commonly in April and fall.

·         Since it is such a versatile plant, the Vinca varieties are planted in any season except harsh winter.

·         Break up the soil, mix in fertilizer or mulch to help the process, and avoid watering overhead as fungus can become an issue.

·         Once the vines have established themselves, the plants need little care aside from water and some light trimming if you find the often invasive plant moving into undesired areas of your garden.

 

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