GARDENING ... AND MORE: Hard work shows in June, but watch for problems
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Jun 04, 2014 | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
June is the month when all your hard work, time, labors and money you spent all year long on your garden, lawn and trees pay off. But there are always problems that crop up at this time. We either have too much rain, not enough rain, insects are eating your plants or, worst of all, mildew is invading your garden. Truth is you can prevent some of these problems with a little planning. A program of spraying for mildew with a fungicide will prevent most of the mildew. Carefully removing and destroying yellow leaves from plants is a must to help with mildew. Also you want to prevent overcrowding by trimming shrubs and moving around some perennials, which are crowded.

Controlling insects becomes a number one problem but there is help. First, insects are likely to attack sick, spindly plants so get them out of the beds. Best help of all are birds. Birds do a far better job getting rid of insects than you will. Several birdhouses for bluebirds will work miracles. Martins, hummingbirds, and even robins, work wonders so having lots of birds in your garden makes all the difference in the insect problem. For most of us, the hummingbirds are the most important of the birds in our gardens because they are such a joy to watch. To keep your humming birds coming to your feeders, plant some trumpet shaped, red or orange flowers around the feeders. Even red zinnias help. You can tie a bright red cloth on the feeder, also.

Did you know that a flower garden with a great mix of flowers attracts fewer insects than a garden concentrating on just one kind of plant? You will find that roses scattered throughout a mixed garden are healthier.

I am sure that you have noticed that insects of any kind never bother some plants. These will be those plants that have a strong odor, mostly unpleasant, such as Russian sage, marigolds, artemesia and others with like odor. Not only are those plants not bothered by insects, they seem to repel insects so they are valuable to have mixed throughout a flower garden.

Tomato plants often will drop blossoms when the nights are cool or extremely hot in spring. To prevent this happening, spray the clusters of blooms with Blossom Set. And be sure to give your tomato plants about one or two tablespoons of Epsom salts about every two weeks throughout the spring and summer. That will keep the lower leaves nice and green plus it keeps the tomato plant bearing tomatoes all summer and into the fall. While you have the big can of Epsom salts in hand, give a tablespoon to roses, tall garden phlox and most all of your perennials. If you do this on a regular basis, you will be surprised at the difference.

I often wonder what special gene makes some of us persevere in the garden throughout the whole hot summer even with all the problems. It must be an inherited gene because my Ma and her ancestors all loved flowers and loved to be outside among the flowers. When I was a little girl, walking to Ma’s or to a neighbor’s with my mother, I had to be constantly reminded to stay in the road or on the path because to step out into weeds was dangerous because of the venomous snakes. My Ma loved to hunt in the woods and along the creek bank for wildflowers and my great grandmother was said to have loved to tramp the woods looking for some rare wild flowers, but my mother, not so much. She preferred to read. I think Mama missed out on the special gene. I can remember where the beautiful wild larkspurs grew and where the little wild iris bed was. I could never go there alone but Ma could be persuaded to walk along the road on their farm and I just might be able to reach a flower without getting out into the woods.

A very special reader from Harrodsburg called me this week with a problem and I wonder if any reader can help this wonderful 90-year-old gardener. She says that birds are eating the leaves off her tomato plants. She keeps planting new ones and birds keep stripping them all. She has used Sevin and it didn’t help. Amy still drives her car to church and to the grocery and does all her housework but has someone mow her lawn lately.

If anyone has any ideas, please call me at 270-522-3632 and I will pass info on to Miss Amy. You can send mail to me at Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.
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