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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.


There is much interest in container gardening.  Anything that will hold soil can be used as a container garden.  I have seen gardens in old cars, wagons, shoes, sinks, etc. even in a toilet bowl.  They all work when filled with well drained mix, put in proper light, given the right plant nutrients and watered properly.  Yep, the same requirements as in the ground.  Just different planting mix and a different feeding and watering schedule.

With that said, for most home gardeners, especially novices the square foot gardening program as promoted by Mel Bartholomew is hard to beat.  The boxes are easy to assemble.  You can use one or many put together, you can adjust heights, etc.  They can be used to grow any vegetable that you can grow in the ground.

Weeds are rarely a problem, particularly if you clean the beds yearly and put in new mix as recommended.  Insects also give very little problem.  By the way, insects are not nearly as bad on healthy plants.  An insect population may well be a sign of an unhealthy plant.

In containers people tend to want to plant to many plants, too close together.  This causes two problems.  One, as the plants grow they get too thick and don't dry well after rain thus creating disease problems.  Two, when they are too thick the plants shade themselves and don't bloom as heavy thus reducing yield.  Plants need to be open and have good air flow and plenty of sunlight in order to produce as they should.

Lastly, in containers be careful not to over water or over fertilize.  Plants that are over watered or over fertilized tend to grow heavily but produce little.  Big tomato plants may look great but have few if any tomatoes.  Plants that are growing big vines or leaves put all their energy into growing and simply don't have time to bloom and set fruit.

As a whole square foot gardening is a great way to have fresh produce most of the year, particularly in home gardens.  If you have any questions, come by and take a look at the available materials.


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Plant of the Week - Tomato



  •  Buy tomato plants at the nursery for planting after all danger of frost has passed. Otherwise, start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost.        
  •  Choose a site that gets full sun and has soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. 
  •  Tomatoes need plenty of warmth to taste their best, so provide shelter from chilly breezes, whether with a windbreak of trees, a garden wall, or a vine-covered trellis.
  •           Amend the soil with plenty of compost; tomatoes need soil rich in organic matter.
  •  Harden off seedlings, whether store-bought or homegrown, and move them to the garden when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees F.
  •   Dig a hole the size of a basketball for each plant. Add a shovelful of compost and a handful of crushed eggshells (for needed calcium) to each hole.
  •  Set the plants 12 to 18 inches apart depending on variety (see the seed packet or plant label). Plant them deeply - up to the fourth branch from the top - to encourage new root development.
  •  Place a paper collar around each plant to deter cutworms, and cover the plants with cloches or floating row covers to protect them from insects and cool temperatures.
  • Remove the covers when the weather has warmed, mulch the soil and install any supports the plants will need as they grow.
  •  Make sure plants get between one and two inches of water every week, and to ensure a bumper crop, spray them with compost tea or seaweed extract four times: two weeks after transplanting, after the first flowers appear, when the fruits reach the size of golf balls, and when you spot the first ripe tomato.
  • Pick tomatoes when their color is glossy and even, and their texture midway between soft and firm





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