Summer, and the livin’ is (somewhat) easier
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
As of last Sunday, another spring is gone forever. It’s been a good ’un.
April might have been our prettiest ever (we’ve thought that before), with no late freezes, mild days, cool nights and plenty of rain that kept bloom in fine fettle longer than it is most years. Dogwoods and azaleas, of course, were the stars, as they should be.
Well, here we are with summer staring us in the face. It won’t be as good; can’t be, in our horrendous blast furnace and humidifier climate. We won’t hunker down for the duration, however, though some modification in activity is necessary, if only to keep us from keeling over from heat stroke.
Early and late is the recipe (mostly early) for what things have to be done. Thankfully, they are less arduous than spring and fall needs.
For instance, deadheading of blooming flowers is a necessity to keep up appearances. There’s nothing that sullies an otherwise nice scene than dead heads on everything from marigolds to summer phloxes. Then too, deadheading encourages more and quicker rebloom.
This works with some shrubs, too. Roses — some of them anyway — keep right on blooming until hard frost if deadheaded and fertilized through the summer. The Knockout roses will bloom almost continuously with constant deadheading and feeding.
Butterfly bushes should be deadheaded to keep new growth coming along, on which more blooms are borne. Ditto the summer blooming spireas (i.e. Anthony Waterer and Neon Flash). The spireas will sometimes flush three sets of bloom if deadheading is prompt after each flush. Strangely enough, spring blooming spireas won’t rebloom.
Some exposed annuals and perennials might need a bit of new mulch added around their roots if old mulch has washed or worn away. Hot summer weather intensifies the need for mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.
Vegetables should be picked promptly to keep them bearing longer. Summer squash and okra produce new crops almost daily, and prompt picking keeps the fruit from getting tough and stringy, as well as encouraging more and more to be borne. It is amazing what a crop can be produced from a single hill of squash or a half dozen okra plants.
An onerous chore is spraying. I hate it, but a modicum of spraying is sometimes necessary. Fungicides are potent and demand care in handling. However, some fruit crops are virtually impossible to bring off without them. Peaches, for instance, will almost invariably go down to brown rot if not sprayed. The spray regimen should be stopped well before ripening of the fruit. Follow label directions carefully.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 6.30.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path