. . . It was a rocky start for most vegetable gardens this year. Â We had such a cool spring with so much Â changeable Â weather that the little starter plants had difficulty getting started. Â Then they were accosted by hail storms that ruined some of them. Â I know that we were scrambling to get a new shipment of little vegetable plants out of harmâ€™s way twice! Â We hope that all the vegetable gardens are doing well by now and that you will be able to harvest veggies soon, if you are not already.
. . . July is a month of what seems like non-stop watering. Â It is also a month for vacations and other summer activities. Â If you are leaving on a vacation, and have someone to do the watering for you, it would be a good idea to go over all the necessary things that need to be done. Â That person needs to know any quirks in your watering system, and about any plant that needs extra care or that should not be watered daily, etc. Â If you have an automated system, you might ask a relative, friend or neighbor to check it out a time or two while youâ€™re gone to be sure that it is working correctly in case of a power outage or other incident that might have caused a problem somewhere in the system to prevent its working properly. Â We usually repeat this cautionary statement each summer because every year we seem to hear a sad story of Â plant losses Â while on vacation.
. . . Insufficient water is the cause for most plant losses during the hot summer months. Â Deep watering and mulching around plants are helpful methods to keep plants adequately watered. Â If you notice blossoms shriveling and dropping before they are spent, leaves curling in the heat of summer and not recovering in the evening â€“ that is an indication of too little water. Â The leaves may become crisp and dry, get brown edges, and begin to drop. Â If a plant has reached that point, a way must be found to give that plant â€“ or those plants more water. Â A good deep watering usually will mininmize the damage, and the use of a product called â€œSuperthriveâ€ when watering can further mitigate the damage.
. . . We have customers ask if they can be over-watering Â a plant or tree that is having problems during the summer. Â It is difficult to over -water during the hottest part of the summer, but it is possible. Â If you suspect that overwatering is causing whatever the problem may be, you can always use a water meter, or try this simple test. Â Dig a 12â€ deep test hole in the area and take a fistful of soil from the bottom of the hole. Â Be sure that it isnâ€™t soil that has fallen into the bottom from the sides of the hole. Â Squeeze the soil Â into a ball â€“ if it falls apart or is crumbly, the water supply is inadequate. Â If it drips water it is too wet indicating too much water. Â If it sticks together and retains it shape when you stop squeezing, it indicates proper watering. Â Also keep in mind that plants that are over-watered constantly will usually take on an overall yellow look, and be droopy, rather than having their leaves getting dry and falling.
. . .Mower blades should be set to mow your grass no shorter that two inches. Â When the grass is just a bit longer it will shade the ground and help conserve the moisture. Â A lawn that has been cut very short will require more water to keep it nice and green due to the more rapid evaporation of moisture.
. . .Crape myrtles are beginning to bloom in some areas, and will continue to bloom most of the summer. Â They come in many colors, white and many shades of red, pink and lavender. Â Different varieties will also vary greatly in mature height, so that may be an important consideration depending on where you intend to plant the one you choose. Â Color subtleties can be difficult to describe which would suggest that they be chosen while in bloom if you have a very specific color in mind. Â Another summer blooming, very hardy, deciduous plant is the Rose of Sharon in the hibiscus family. Â They come in white, shades of pink, lavender and blue, some have single blooms that look like the tropical hibiscus, and some have double blooms. Â Both Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia, zones 7-10) and Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, zones 2-24) naturally grow as large shrubs, but are also available that have been trained to trees. Â Both are excellent plants for this area.
. . . We hope everyone has a nice and safe 4th of July, and enjoy your summer – and come visit us for all your gardening needs.