"Super seven" list of summer garden jobs

The Plant Man column for publication the week of 06/20/04 - 06/26/04 (725 words)
The Plant Man by Steve Jones www.landsteward.org
"Super seven" list of summer garden jobs
It's official: Summer is finally here as of June 21! And all that talk about "the lazy, hazy days" might make us think there's nothing to do around the landscape, except maybe pull a comfortable wicker chair under a favorite shade tree and "think with your eyes closed" for an hour or so.
Not so fast, Rip Van Winkle!
There's still plenty to keep you occupied outdoors, so take a look at my "Summer Super Seven" checklist of essential activities, then put on your gloves and knee-pads and get busy!
1. Water the plants and lawn. If you're still "enjoying" those late spring / early summer downpours, you can ignore this one for now. But remember that most plants need the equivalent of around one inch of rain water every week. Best time to water: early morning, because evening watering can leave plants damp during the night and that can lead to fungus.
2. Check your mower blades. Has your lawn developed a greyish-brown appearance in places? If the usual suspects too little rain or too many dogs are not too blame, it could be that your mower blades have become dull or maladjusted over the winter layoff. That means your blades are shredding and mashing the grass rather than neatly slicing it. Get the blades sharpened or readjusted if necessary. (Now don't you wish you'd done that during the winter?)
3. Eliminate standing / stagnant water. Get rid of all your mosquito mini-farms! Buckets, trash can lids and tarps collect water and become larvae incubators. If you missed a complete column of anti-skeeter tips, you can find it at my web site. Go to www.landsteward.org then click on "The Plant Man" heading and scroll down to the mosquito column. It could save you scratching all summer!
4. Protect your new young trees. Did you plant some new trees this spring? Because they are at their most vulnerable during the first two years of life, it's a good idea to protect your investment from rodents, deer, severe weather and high winds. There are several excellent products on the market, including one called Miracle Tubes that simply encircle the delicate trunks and provide support and protection.
5. Protect tall flowers. A single gust of wind can turn an entire bed of tall flowers into a tangle of "dead soldiers" and that can be a very depressing sight! From an aesthetic point of view, choose inconspicuous stakes and green twist-ties. But be sure not to strangle your flowers by over-tightening!
6. Store pesticides safely. If you're using any pesticides on your landscape, remember that they can be dangerous, particularly to children and pets. Always read the directions (even when you think you know everything about the product) and think carefully about where to store leftover pesticides... safely out of the reach of small hands and paws.
7. Make birds welcome. Be sure you have a fresh water source (not a stagnant skeeter spa) that will attract birds to your garden... where they will feast on the insects that are feasting on your plants. Many people keep bird feeders stocked year-round for the same reason.
You've done everything on my Summer Super Seven list? You deserve a reward. Drag a wicker chair under your favorite shade tree and relax!
Just room for one reader question...
QUESTION: "I am hoping that you can help me with my 6ft wisteria plants. They were budded out for blooming and got frost bitten. I pinched a bud and they are hard as well as the branches. Is it possible to save these plants for next year growth and if so how do I prune now for promoted growth?" Bonnie
ANSWER: Just trim the burnt growth and new growth should begin. Fertilize as in the past. Next winter when the leaves fall, mix one tablespoon of Epson salts per gallon of water and drench the roots of your plant. Repeat the same treatment the next spring just before it starts to put on leaves. You should have blooms again this next season.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send you questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived Plant Man columns, visit www.landsteward.org where you can also subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter.
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