» Archive for August, 2016

Summer Fruit Tree Care

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Take care of your roses: feed, water, weed, mulch and remove faded blooms regularly. Spray if necessary at first sign of insect or disease problems.
    • After the June crop of raspberries is finished, remove canes that produced fruit leaving new green canes, which can then be trained on trellises.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding with a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than in nitrogen.
    • Budworms eat the petals of geraniums and petunias, leaving you with no flowers. Spray plants weekly with BT for complete control.
    • Birdbaths will attract our feathered friends to your backyard so you can enjoy them close-up. Place them a few feet from a bushy shrub to give the birds protection.

Summer Fruit Tree Care

Summer is the time when fruit trees grace us with their abundance of sweet, juicy fruit. It is also the time when fruit trees need your care and attention. They must be kept healthy and strong so they will produce well for you for many years to come.

Young fruit trees need particular attention. The most important cultural practice during the first year is watering. No other single element of plant care causes more problems or failures than over or under-watering. Water supply must be consistent. Drought followed by flooding can cause trees to stop growing due to the shock of these extremes conditions.

Check the soil weekly. A new tree needs approximately 10 gallons a week during the hot summer months. A tree two years old may need 20 gallons a week. A mature fruit tree can use 50 gallons a week or more. Fruit trees need water to size up their fruit properly. It’s best to water deeply and infrequently rather than shallowly and frequently. Water trees on clay soils every 2 to 3 weeks as clay holds moisture for a long time. For young trees, make a moat around the base of the tree so the water stays in the root zone. On older trees, water at the drip line of the tree.

Keep the base of your fruit trees weed free. Spread a 2- to 3-inch thick layer of organic mulch, such as pine straw or bark mulch, over the root zone but keep it a few inches away from the trunk. Organic mulch also breaks down gradually, providing organic matter to the soil.

Pick up fallen fruit as soon as possible after it drops, and destroy it. Fruit that drops to the ground can contain insect larvae, which burrow into the soil where they overwinter, to reemerge in the spring. A clean orchard is a healthy orchard.

Inspect your fruit tree bark, branches, leaves, and developing fruits often. Look for signs of insects and diseases and apply the appropriate organic controls. It’s usually easier to control pests if you act before or just as they are getting established, than to control them after they have caused lots of damage.

Paint trunks of young trees with white latex paint or Tree Trunk White to prevent sunburn which causes the bark to crack. This leaves openings for boring insects to enter. They can cause serious damage and even death in young trees.

While most pruning of fruit trees is done in the late winter, some can be done in the summer as well. Summer pruning can eliminate any dead, diseased, or broken branches. Prune off any new branches that are growing from the base of the tree (suckers) or straight up from horizontal branches (water sprouts).

Summer pruning uses thinning cuts (where the branch is cut off at its point of attachment, instead of part way along the branch) to train young fruit trees to the desired tree limb structure. If you want to keep your mature fruit trees at an easy-to-harvest height, summer pruning is essential.

Keep your fruit trees healthy and they will give you many years of abundant harvests.

Summer Houseplant Care

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Replace codling moth pheromones now to make your apples as worm-free as possible. Replace the sticky papers at the same time.
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Cut back leggy annuals by half and feed to encourage a longer bloom season.
    • Impatiens will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.

Summer Houseplant Care

Houseplants love summertime. During the summer months, the light is strong, the days are long, the air is warm and plants are eager to show new growth. But sometimes they need your help to do their best.

Summer is the best time to fertilize your houseplants. If you have never fertilized your houseplants, then summer is a great time to start. Look for a general, well-balanced fertilizer and follow the directions for mixing and frequency of application. Proper fertilization will help give your plants the nutrients they need for proper growth during the summertime.

Summer is a good time to go through your houseplant collection, and re-pot any houseplants which are root-bound. Choose a container that is only slightly larger than the one it is in and use a good quality potting soil. Firm the soil gently around the root ball, but do not press so hard that the soil becomes compacted.

Give shiny-leaved plants a good cleaning. If you can, take your plants outside in a shady place and hose them off. Then take a soft cloth and wipe down the leaves to leave them clean and shiny again. Take this time to trim off brown leaves and look for pests. Treat for insects as soon as you see them, as they multiply rapidly during the warm summer months.

Often during the summer, plants will dry out faster, and need to be watered more frequently than at other times of the year. Be sure to keep an eye on your plants’ watering needs (especially during very hot days), and be prepared to water more frequently if need be.

Summer is also a great time to propagate new houseplants. Cuttings taken during this time will root and become established quickly. Root them in water and as soon as they have sufficient roots, plant them into a container with good, fresh potting soil.

If you have a shaded porch or a safe place under a large tree, most houseplants will benefit from spending part of the summer outdoors. Remember that most houseplants are shade-loving, low-light plants, and they should not be placed in direct sunlight. Many houseplants can be revitalized by growing them outside during the summer. Plants with large leaves should be placed where they get good wind protection, since their leaves are easily torn.

Plants summering outdoors are exposed to summer heat, and brighter light, so they will dry out faster than if they were indoors. Be sure to keep plants properly watered while they are outdoors. Plants receive more light when they are outdoors which stimulates growth and sometimes stimulates plants to bloom. Houseplants should be brought back indoors by mid-September, before the weather turns cold.

Houseplants add so much to our indoor environment. Take this time to give yours a summer vacation, or to add to your collection with a new plant.

Silver in Your Garden

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Chrysanthemums give the brightest colors for fall. Choose them in bloom now at your nursery.
    • Feed fuchsias, begonias, summer annuals and container plants to keep them green and blooming right up until frost.
    • Matilija poppies are a hardy perennial with flowers that look like “fried eggs.” Plant them in a sunny spot with good drainage.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables. Set out plants now.
    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce.

Silver in Your Garden

One of the fun parts of designing a garden is working with color. Flowers bring the most color to the garden, but the subtle palette of foliage colors is also full of possibilities. Gray gardens are somewhat of a tradition in England, and since there are many drought-tolerant, gray-leafed plants, it’s easy to create one here as well.

A garden of silvery foliage and calming shades of lavender and blue can be a place for relaxation and contemplation. Many of these perennials are wonderfully fragrant and since silvery leaves reflect moonlight as well as sunlight, this is a perfect garden to plant near your patio or deck.

Gray-leafed plants need plenty of sun and excellent drainage with only moderate summer watering. They tolerate tough conditions like wind and rocky soil and most are deer-resistant.

Begin your design with some of the taller lavenders like Lavendula ‘Provence’ which grows 3 to 4 feet tall and as wide. The bright blue flowers have a nice fragrance and are good for potpourri or lavender wands.

Russian sage, Perovskia, is a graceful, upright shrub with sprays of lavender-blue flowers atop its silvery stems. The finely cut foliage is very attractive. Of course the popular wallflower, ‘Bowles Mauve’ is also a fine landscape shrub that blooms with purple flowers over a long season, from February to July.

Once you have the larger plants placed, you can fill in with some smaller perennials. ‘Lamb’s Ear’ is a great favorite for its woolly, silver-gray foliage. Some varieties have flower stalks with small, purplish flowers but ‘Silver Carpet’ doesn’t bloom at all.

For a little flower variety, add Teucrium fruticans. This silver-foliaged evergreen shrub has wonderful azure blue flowers most of the summer on a 3-4 foot shrub. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Many of the sages have silvery foliage. Culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, has excellent ornamental qualities, with lavender-blue flowers and wrinkled, gray-green leaves that are frequently used fresh or dried as a seasoning.

Salvia apiana, white sage, is a striking native sage, growing 3-5 ft. tall and wide. The distinctive whitish aromatic foliage cover this shrub with long flower stems of lavender tinged white blossoms. Used in smudge bundles as a natural incense, it is a bee and hummingbird favorite.

Lychnis coronaria, known as rose campion, is an easy-to-grow perennial with fuzzy gray leaves and tall stems of showy, magenta flowers. Lavender cotton, Santolina chamaecyparissus, makes a fragrant, dense mound with attractive grayish-silver foliage. The small, bright yellow button flowers light up the plant in early summer making it a good border shrub.

‘Moonshine’ yarrow has finely cut silvery leaves and yellow flower heads on upright stems 2-3 feet tall. And even old-fashioned dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything.

Explore the colorful world of silver and blue and create a special garden all your own.