Don’t get discouraged by garden problems
by Ronella Stagner, Gardening Columnist
Jun 10, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This is the time of the year when strange things happen in your garden to make you wonder if it was all in vain. The first blossoms of your tomato plants start falling off. What a crisis this is after all the work and time choosing just the right tomato plant. This often happens when the day temperature is very hot and the night temperature drops down to the fifties. That is just not a good thing for tomatoes. Tomato Set may be just the thing to cure this problem and get you back on the road to beating all the neighbors to have the first ripe tomatoes. My brother-in-law, Arthur Wallace, always said that any good tomato grower ought to have ripe ones by July 4. Check your tomato plants occasionally to see if they are developing a blight which causes brown or black spots. Pinch off the affected leaves and apply a fungicide.

While this won’t make your tomato plant healthier, pinching off the suckers will give you more tomatoes. Suckers, for those novices, are those big shoots that develop sideways from the main stem. You can stick these suckers in sand or peat moss and get a new plant for extending your tomato growing season. And don’t forget that a tablespoon of Epsom Salts will also extend the plant’s bearing season.

While on the subject of growing vegetables, a reminder that those early plants such as radishes, spinach and lettuce are probably about to go on a strike and you might just as well jerk them out, fertilize their spot again and plant some beans or some other favorite. You may want to use this same spot in the garden to plant fall plants such as cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Just always remember to refertilize. I had a friend once in Minnesota who had several crops from his tiny backyard garden. The summers are very short there buy the soil is so rich that things just seem to grow overnight.

If you grow rhubarb and asparagus, now is the time to stop harvesting them and let them develop to store food for next spring’s crop. Fertilize them and water as you would any other growing plant.

Be sure to check your houseplants that you put outside. They need more water when outside.

The middle of June is not too late to plant seeds of some of the fast growing annuals such as Marigolds and Zinias. By planting them this late, you will extend your annual garden blooms.

If you buy a potted perennial or shrub to plant now, be sure to check to see that the soil is moist down to the bottom of the roots. The garden centers often don’t water thoroughly. Also when you plant this new plant, soak the hole very thoroughly before setting the root ball into the hole. And if the root ball in covered with burlap, cut off the twine or wire surrounding it and then remove the burlap. Supposedly the burlap will rot but I have had better results by just removing that burlap.

Someone has said, “Our notion of what makes a paradise always returns to the image of a beautiful and fruitful garden”. June is the month when it all comes together, all the time, labor and money we spent all year long. But, alas, there are adders in this Garden of Eden. Too much rain and we get mildew. Not enough rain and everything falls over and dies. Then there are insects everywhere and who knows what insect is helpful and which to kill and then what to use to kill them. The truth of the matter is that careful planning prevents a lot of our problems. Trimming shrubs to prevent overcrowding, spraying for mildew, removing and destroying yellow leaves from roses, making a happy place for birds who will get a lot of the insects and you must learn to know plants which need shade and those that must have sun and those that need lots of water and those that like dry soil. Some careful planning can make your gardening much easier and more fruitful.

Then there are things that we only learn by trial and error. For instance, I have found that roses, especially the hybrid teas and the smaller dwarf roses profit by being scattered among other perennials. They seem to have less mildew and less damage from insects. You will learn by experience that some flowers never have insect problems. Those are the ones that give off a very strong perfume such as all the herbs, Marigolds, Russian Sage and Artemesia. So why not take advantage of this and plant more of these plants?

(You can write to me at Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211 or call 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions.)
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