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Summer Gardening

JUNE:

  1. Collect the seeds from foxglove stalks. Scratch the soil around the plant, scatter the seed and cover with a bit of earth. Water occasionally and the seedlings that sprout this year will bloom next year.
  2. Look for small new seedlings under your Lenten rose. They can be transplanted now to other spots.
  3. Lure slugs and snails under a hollowed out half-cantaloup near your hosta. Check at noon every few days and scrape them into a bucket of soapy water.
  4. Use soaker hoses and a water timer to irrigate annuals, perennials and shrubs. The hose conserves water and the timer makes it easy. Most hoses apply 1 gallon per foot per hour.
  5. Check your lawn for circular, dead, brown spots. Could be "Brown Patch" but correct your fertilization and watering practices before you reach for a fungicide.
  6. Mulch your vegetable garden. Try using three sheets of newspaper to cover the ground around each plant, then cover the paper with straw or leaves. Otherwise, pine straw or wheat straw by itself works fine.
  7. Plant annuals in small beds that make a visual impact but are still easy to water. Try color bowls or large container plantings near the entry to your home.
  8. Fertilize outdoor houseplants regularly. Constant watering in the summer washes nutrients from the soil.
  9. Raise the height of your mower by one notch. It will help your lawn grass withstand dry weather.
  10. Remove the faded flowers from geraniums and marigolds to help them make more blooms.
  11. Pick okra and squash regularly. Just one fully ripe fruit halts blooming on the entire plant.
  12. Big green caterpillars on parsley and fennel are the precursors to beautiful swallowtail butterflies. Try not to kill them if you can help it.
  13. Tree roots are almost bone dry! Give them 15 gallons per inch of trunk thickness once each week if regulations allow.
  14. Prune back your hydrangeas when most of the blooms have faded. You'll quickly get lots of new branches, which may give more flowers this fall.
  15. If restrictions allow, water your lawn only once per week but make it a deep, thorough soaking: one inch of precipitation.

JULY:

  1. Regularly remove faded flowers from salvia, zinnia, coneflower and especially petunia. This will encourage bushiness and the production of more flowers.
  2. Remove all stems that support faded flowers on your blue and pink hydrangeas; shorten droopy, flowerless stems by one third. The new growth that occurs between now and winter will produce next summer's blooms.
  3. There is still plenty of time to plant seed of marigold, cosmos, cleome and dwarf sunflower. They'll make a spectacular flower show in six weeks.
  4. Support tall flower stems prone to flop over after a rain. Use a thin stick or a length of bamboo and some jute twine to tie the plant upright.
  5. Cut back by half herbs like basil, mint and oregano. This prevents them from producing seed and promotes more fragrant leaves.
  6. Don't let fruit tree limbs break. Prop them up with poles or remove some unripe fruit.
  7. Pick squash, cucumbers and okra regularly. One over-ripe vegetable, left on the vine, stops bloom production.
  8. Wood chips make great mulch by saving moisture and controlling weeds! Spread a layer 2 inches deep under trees and shrubs out to where the branches end.
  9. Bermuda, zoysia and centipede grass sod can be successfully installed in bare spots now. Make sure to loosen the soil six inches deep before putting the sod in place.
  10. Cut back dahlias to half their height. Fertilize and water the plant to produce a crop of fall flowers.
  11. Mow grass growing in the shade one-half to one inch higher than the normally recommended height. Plants need as much leaf surface as possible to take advantage of any available light.

AUGUST:

  1. The soil in outdoor clay pots dries out quickly. Poke holes in it with a pencil to make sure water saturates the soil when you tend your plants.
  2. The best way to control snakes is to remove their habitat. Move log piles, leaf piles and rock piles to the edge of your yard, away from the house.
  3. Prune tropical hibiscus plants you plan to bring indoors. Reduce them to a size that will fit in front of your sunniest window in December.
  4. Remove faded crape myrtle blooms and dry seed clusters now. With a little water and fertilizer, you may get more blooms in September.
  5. Collect seeds from hosta, iris and blackberry lily to save for planting next spring.
  6. To prevent ants from coming indoors, spread insecticide granules in a band 24 inches wide around the foundation of your house. Use ant bait traps near entrance doors.
  7. Bermuda or zoysia grass encroaching in your fescue lawn? Spray it with glyphosate (Roundup) now and again in September before you plant fescue this fall.
  8. If you had tremendous numbers of Japanese beetles, you might get some control next year by poisoning the grubs. Now is the best time to do it; remember to water heavily after the insecticide application.
  9. Fertilize roses with 1 tablespoon of 10-10-10 per foot of height now to stimulate some new growth. As the weather cools, you'll get roses for the fall.
  10. Cut back faded annual flowers by half, then water and lightly fertilize with liquid 20-20-20. A second season of blooms will begin to appear in two weeks.
  11. Water big trees. Apply at least 15 gallons per inch of trunk thickness each week.
  12. Plant fall blooming bulbs like colchicum, fall crocus and sternbergia.
  13. Watch for the red or yellow, spider-like flowers of spider lily, also called surprise lily - because the foliage is nowhere to be seen when it blooms.
  14. Wrap cheesecloth around sunflower heads to keep the birds away. The head is ready to harvest when the back has turned from green to brown.
  15. Pull English ivy out of your trees. The leaves act like a sail in a thunderstorm - you don't want that tree to navigate onto your roof!
  16. It's easy to see the big webs of fall webworm in your trees. If you can reach it with a stick, wrap and destroy the webbing to expose worms to the elements.

From the Georgia Gardener, www.walterreeves.com

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