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Hot Weather Maintenance - July 6th, 2020


The summer high temperatures and hot sun can be tough on newly planted shrubs, vegetable gardens, and flowers unless they are properly maintained.


Make certain, first that your shrubs and trees are planted in the proper environment. Some will like full shade, some partial shade to light sun, and some thrive in full sun. Azaleas, for example, like morning sun and afternoon shade. They may live-in all-day sun but they will not be happy. Plant them in full sun and then put gravel around the base and they will likely be dead in two years. The heat will burn the roots up. On the other hand, Japanese holly planted in this same environment will thrive. They like the heat.


Newly planted shrubs and trees should have a two to three-inch layer of mulch, no more, around their base. This holds in moisture and keeps the roots cool. Most shrubs and trees need to be gently soaked every week to ten days to the bottom of the root ball. A five-minute blast of water is a waste of time and water. Usually, it is only necessary to water shrubs and trees through the first growing season.


Vegetable gardens planted in the ground normally do not need a lot of supplemental watering. Mother Nature usually provides for their needs. I was in a garden this past weekend that was beautiful. Lush and green and has only received rain water. It will not be watered this season. Too much water creates lots of foliage growth which only helps to limit the amount of produce produced. Once the vegetables are up and growing fertilization and extra water should be limited. Flowers planted in the ground would be grown in this same manner.


Flowers and vegetables planted in containers are a different story. Make sure your containers are placed in the proper spots according to the plants in the containers. Container plantings in shade may only need water once a week, certainly no more than twice a week. Containers that have plants that perform well in full sun will want to be watered daily. Let me inject here that a raised bed is nothing more than a large container and should be treated as such.


On days such as the day I am writing this, 90 degrees at one o’clock, you will see many of your flowers and vegetables withered. This does not mean they need to be watered. Plants wither as a means of protecting themselves from the heat. If you come out of the house at six the next morning and the plants are still withered then you might need to grab the hose and give them a good soaking.


One last tip. When you water, try to water under the leaves. Try not to wet the leaves. Plants in general do not like wet leaves. If the leaves stay wet long it may produce rot and fungus diseases. Holes in plant leaves are usually caused by water standing on the leaves.


Just a few tips that I hope will help to save you some work over the summer and allow you to enjoy your flowers and garden.

Fireblight - Recognizing and Control June 24th, 2020




Fire blight is a fairly common and highly contagious disease most often found on apple and pear trees both ornamental and fruiting. It may spread to roses and raspberry at times. The weather this spring has been perfect for the disease to appear and spread. Cool, rainy, cloudy with some breeze is conducive to creating the disease and spreading the disease.


Blight first appears in the blossoms in early spring, then gradually spreads to new growth and moves along the branch toward the center part of the plant. The name fire blight comes from the appearance of the leaves which may look like they have been burned. It affects leaves, stem, and bark. The affected areas will appear black, shrunken and cracked. Blossoms will yellow, wilt, and die within one to two weeks after being infected.


At times an amber-colored ooze may come out of the tree. This is heavy with infection. When the temperatures range between 60- and 80-degrees conditions are perfect for the disease to spread. Some common ways for the disease to spread are bees, birds, splashing rain, and wind.


Fortunately, it normally does not kill a plant unless it occurs several years in a row. It will limit the fruit production of a tree. New growth is highly susceptible to the disease; therefore, recommendations are to limit the use of a high nitrogen fertilizer. Each year do a complete cleanup around the tree. Remove all debris and burn it. The debris around the tree is a perfect place for the disease spores to over-winter.


The blighted wood in a plant should be pruned out and burned. Prune at least 8 to 12 inches beyond the infected area. During the season remove suckers and water sprouts from the tree. Watch for any in season appearance of the disease and remove as soon as it appears.


Because of how contagious the disease is all tools used in pruning, etc should be disinfected as soon as you finish the task. Gloves, your clothing and hands should be washed thoroughly. You might want to use chemical wipes between cuts to keep from spreading the disease.


There are chemical agents that can be purchased at most garden centers to control the disease. You will likely have to make more than one application during the spring to control the disease. You will find the fungicides to be fairly expensive as compared to other pesticides.


As always read and reread the label before you apply the pesticide. It is not the job of the employee where you buy the chemical to tell you how to use, how much to use, how often to use, or other information about the chemical. The information is on the label for you to read.


Be prudent and patient. Fire blight is not the end of the world but if you have a home orchard it is something you will have to deal with.


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Plant of the Week - 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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