Weeds will show up in the best of lawns, even those that have had sod placed. It just happens. The plan now is to use a weed control, either in liquid form for us lazy gardeners or in granular form. Take your choice but get on those weeds. The two kinds of weeds are the narrowleaf and the broadleaf. Narrowleaf ones are crab grass and that awful quack grass among others. Broadleaf ones are the non-grassy ones such as dandelions, plantain and chickweed. Herbicides should be reserved as a last resort because they are dangerous to handle. You can kill your shrubs and special flowers and pets can walk through it, or even humans, and get the residue on their feet. Remember to always, ALWAYS read the label on any chemical, especially on that is this strong.
Early June is the time to spray your tomatoes with fruit-setting hormone. Those gorgeous tomatoes don’t just happen. Also, your tomatoes need a fertilizer. My favorite is the powder that is added to a garden hose sprayer. It’s easier and quicker. Or you can buy any water soluble 5-10-5 at any garden store. Tomatoes should be either grown in a cage or as I like to do, tie them up to a fence but it had better be a good stout wire fence. Tying them to a fence or stakes is more trouble than cages which can be used over and over. Caged tomatoes show less crack and burn and seem to produce more uniform size. You can build your own cages with regular hog wire. Either kind of cage needs a stout stake placed in the center to hold it down. And don’t forget to get some Epsom salts. A tablespoon or two per tomato plant will do wonders.
June is the time when most perennial gardens and even your little backyard tomato and pepper gardens need watering. Neglected for a couple of weeks and some plants will not recover this summer. Put up a rain gauge next to your garden and if you don’t get at least an inch or two per week, it’s time to get out the hose. A real watering is called for, not a sprinkling.
Black spot on Roses is hard to cure once it gets a good start. That’s why we recommend a program of regular spraying with a fungicide. Every two weeks all summer or even oftener during a wet season. But once you have black spot, you can get rid of it if you follow a simple plan. Place newspapers around the plant and cup them up at the edges. Pick up every leaf that falls with the familiar black spots or yellow leaves. Burn them rather than putting them on your compost. If you use several layers of newspaper, you can simply lift up the top layer and the leaves are gone. You will have to stick a few holes in the paper for watering. Continue with your spraying even if all the leaves fall off. The Rose will put out new leaves.
Mulching is extremely important after early June. If your ground is hard and dry, cultivate carefully before you mulch. Azaleas and Rhododendrons need acid coil so it’s best to mulch them with pine needles if possible or even oak leaves. Since their roots are shorter than other shrubs, it’s important to keep them well watered.
Now you can clip off the brownish tops of peonies. Just don’t cut off any green leaves. Peonies do not like much mulch but keep the weeds and grass from around them and water them as you do any perennial.
For those of us who are allergic to poison ivy, this is the time it seems to be everywhere. I have even had it come up in flower beds and I had just about rather have a snake in the beds. Start looking for a friend or relative who is not affected by poison ivy and ask them to pull it off fences and trees. You can also buy a spray that kills them easily which is what this gardener did to get rid of it for good. Just kept spraying every leaf I saw. My dear Ma was always on the lookout for poison ivy along fence rows and she kept it pulled off for those who weren’t as lucky as she. Ma wasn’t bothered by poison ivy, chicken snakes, king snakes or black snakes but was deathly afraid of rattlesnakes and “mad dogs”. Ma was a wise woman.
If you want your annuals to continue blooming after that first spurt of blooms in June, then you must pinch off the dead blooms. Old gardeners go through the flower beds snipping them off with their fingers but for some, it’s easier and preferable to cut them off with scissors or a knife. Either way works.
Just remember that those flower gardens, which you have admired, didn’t get that way all by themselves. It takes a lot of work and diligence.
Thank you for your letters and comments, especially the reader from North Carolina who wrote for a couple of books and had such nice things to say.
(You can write me at Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211 or call 270-522-3632.)