By Cecilia Rice
June can be a busy month for many people. There can be graduations to celebrate at many levels. When I was young, kindergarten class never had graduations. In fact, many schools didn’t have a kindergarten classes. Now we have kindergarten, grammar school, middle school, high school, Jr. college, college and beyond. After all the celebrations come vacations because school is out. There is time to let go of some of the schedules and have some relaxing time. Even the gardening can be less time consuming. Watering has to be done - that is a fact. Doing more that that is putting the burden on yourself and depends on how much work in the garden you choose to do. If a vacation is in the summer schedule and you are fortunate enough to have an automatic watering system, you have it made. My only suggestion in this case is that you might want to ask someone to check the system occasionally just to be certain it is working properly. If you need to have someone do the watering for you, be sure they know exactly what is to be done. If you put all the directions on paper and laminate them and put them in a spot where they can’t blow away and they can then refer to them if they need to. Then there are few excuses for things not being done the way you want them done. Going through the routine with the care-taker -to -be is safest, especially if they happen to be a youngster. Actually, I think most of those kids are very conscientious or they wouldn’t have sought a summer job. If they know what is expected they will probably do it right. Just use your judgement on how detailed you need to be. I only go into this in a bit of detail because of post vacations stories we sometimes hear.
It is generally recommended that fertilizing should be done 3 times a year, February or March, June and September. March fertilizing helps to get everything off to a good start after the winter dormancy. June is for maintaining growth and energy needed for flowering and/or fruiting. September ‘s feeding is taken up by the plant, some of it used and most of it is stored by the plants through the winter while they are dormant and then used when needed as they awaken for spring. Many people have definite ideas about fertilizing and what should be used. Basically, we have chemical or organic fertilizers to use. You will usually see a faster response by the plants to the chemical fertilizers, but there is much negative criticism in the past few years about the damage it does to the soil. It is quite obvious that in years past people gardened with natural fertilizers since they didn’t have the convenience of all the things we have available to us since the chemical fertilizers have been developed. Organic fertilizer companies are becoming very competitive and many people are turning toward them feeling that they are more in keeping with nature and perhaps safer, as well as making the soil richer. If you have always used the chemical fertilizers and decide to go organic, keep in mind that you will see slower results from the organic fertilizers but they work equally well, and do it without depleting the soil.
Much of our time during the summer months is spent outside. The summertime pastimes seem a bit more carefree than winter activities – not needing coats or jackets each time we go out and that sort of thing, and the summer days are much longer. Along with more time outside, we enjoy seeing all of the color that is available. If you are looking for colorful plants that are great summer bloomers that really seem to enjoy our heat, look for Crape Myrtles or Rose of Sharon. They can both be found as bushes or trained to a single trunk tree. They both are available in several different colors – shades of red, white, pink. Of course there are many beautiful roses to add color to the landscape. They need regular watering and fertilizer every four to six weeks to keep them looking their best. It is also necessary to dead head them regularly. If the spent flowers are left on the plant they will become red seed pods, called rose hips, and the rose will quit blooming because it has done its job for the year. That is true of many plants since they set seed to carry on their species. If the seed pod – or whatever form they are - is removed, they will bloom again to produce more seeds. Annuals are available that will provide all summer color. Most gardeners take advantage of their quick growth and varied colors, shapes, and growth habits to add color and interest to their yards.
More calls come during the summer months about wilting and dead plants than any other time of the year. The best thing you can do, especially for a plant that was planted earlier this season is to mulch around the base, keeping the mulch a few inches away from the trunk or main stem, and deep water it twice a week. Deep watering is achieved by creating a slight basin and laying a hose that is running slowly enough so that there is no run off – all of it is soaking into the soil at the base of the plant. Let the water run slowly for several hours or overnight. Roots are better able to get well into the soil, thus the plant is able to better sustain itself.
Flag day is June 14, Father’s Day is June 18, the first day of Summer is June 20 – enjoy your summer!
Cecilia Rice partner with her son Jeff Rice at Bald Mountain Nursery in Browns Valley – we are the “Unexpected Nursery on a little country road.”
Tel. (530) 743-4856 www.baldmountainnursery.com