Mid-Summer is Time to Take Stock, Refresh

July 16, 2017 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Mid-summer is a good time to take a look around your yard and garden and decide what you like and what you don’t.  Go out to the street and approach your home from both directions, pretending to be a visitor.  What do you notice first?  Is there a plant that is too big, a container or display that is too small?  Weeds in the flower beds?  Something that needs to be moved or trimmed back?

      If you are uncomfortable loitering out on the street in front of your own home, snap a few photos from various angles and study them later.  Take your time and look closely to decide if changes are in order.

      Mid-summer is also the time to observe which plants are successful in your garden and which are struggling.  Perhaps as trees and shrubs have grown a plant that started its life in full sun now finds itself in the shade and needs to be moved.  Maybe a new plant you introduced this year doesn’t like the soil conditions where it is placed and would be more successful elsewhere in the yard, or even in your neighbor’s yard.  Possibly it is such a complete failure that the compost heap should be its new home.  There’s nothing wrong with making that decision!

      To keep flowerbeds looking nice, deadhead annual and perennial flowers that have finished blooming.  Deadheading means cutting off spent blooms.  Cutting just above the leaf below the bloom usually results in a good look.  Long gangly stems can be cut back even further.  A kitchen scissors works fine.  Along with making the flowerbed look tidy, deadheading often encourages plants to re-bloom. 

      In the vegetable garden, keep up with the harvesting and weeding.  Spread compost between the rows if you have some available.  Spread fresh mulch between the rows and around plants to help keep weeds down, regulate soil temperature, retain soil moisture and prevent diseases from splashing up from the soil.  Good mulches are straw, pine needles, pulled weeds except those that have gone to seed, and even stems and leaves of plants that you’ve harvested. For example, use the large leaves of rhubarb, radishes or kohlrabi, spinach or greens that have bolted, and pea vines that have finished producing.  Along with serving as a mulch for a short time, they will compost in place and provide nutrition for the soil.

      While you are working in the garden, note any pest or disease problems your plants are experiencing. If you are unable to determine what is causing a problem or to figure out how to take care of it, contact the Winnebago County Master Gardeners Plant Health Advisor hotline at 920-232-1986 or email plantadvice@co.winnebago.wi.us.  We have a team of dedicated Master Gardeners eager to help!

      Hopefully you will find some time between chores to relax in your garden this month and spend some quiet time dreaming of what you’d like to add or change for next year.

FlowersFruits and vegetablesGardening techniques and tools


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