by Karen Weiland, Advance Master Gardener
Here are a few tasks that you can do to help keep your gardens looking their best throughout the season.
Keep an eye on those chrysanthemums. They need to be trimmed until about the fourth of July to insure their bushiness and to promote many blooms. Allow them to put on about four inches of growth between each trimming.
Check your roses for powdery mildew, aphids, black spot or any other diseases or infestations and if you spot them, take steps to control the issue right away. Fertilize roses with a general purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 and deadhead spent blooms. Continuous blooming roses will need to be fertilized each month. Do not fertilize after the middle of August so as not to encourage soft, vulnerable growth that could be damaged by winter temperatures.
Deadhead your annuals to encourage continuous blooming. Remove the developing seed pods on your rhododendrons and azaleas to improve next years bloom. Be careful not to damage the underlying area which may contain next years bud.
Remove the dead foliage from your spring flowering bulbs, but not until it has died back on its own. Once the foliage is dead, bulbs may be dug up, divided and replanted. Bulb clusters should be divided about every three to five years to promote blooming.
Stake tall flowers to keep them from blowing over in the wind.
Protect developing fruit from birds with netting and prune suckers and water sprouts from fruit trees.
Mound the soil around your potato plants. Potatoes near the surface that are exposed to sunlight will turn green, allerting you to the fact it contains a toxin called solanine. Reduce watering as potatoes begin to die back.
Allow one or two runners to develop from your most productive strawberry plants.
Sow seeds for ornamental kale and flowering cabbage for some colorful plants next fall.
House plants can be moved outside to a shady, protected spot.
Check your hostas for slug damage. Since slugs are nocturnal, my seek and destroy mission is done at night with a head lamp strapped to my noggin and some latex gloves protecting my fingers from their slime. Arm yourself with a container of soapy water to put those critters in after picking them off your hostas. Although there are other ways to protect your plants from these thugs, this control method has proven to be the best for me.
Keep weeds pulled so they do not have a chance to go to seed and create havoc in your garden for years to come.
Change the water in your bird bath regularly to prevent mosquito larvae from developing.
Bats can be an effective way to control insects. One brown bat can eat 3000 to 7000 insects each night. Attract bats by building and placing bat houses in your yard.
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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