July 1, 2009
June has come and gone and I must admit that the only good thing about it from a gardening standpoint is that we didn’t have to spend a lot of money to pay for watering our gardens. Here’s hoping July has better weather.
If you look at your lawn and gardens, you will notice that some things are growing well and some things are growing poorly. Anything that needs a lot of water is growing well. Any plant that needs sunshine or any plant that likes dry soil is not doing so well. However, once the rain stops (hopeful optimist that I am) many plants will immediately begin to suffer. The reason for this is the lack of fertilizer in the soil. Take a minute to think about the last time you applied fertilizer to your lawn. When was the last time you fertilized the window boxes, or the hanging baskets? Ditto for the perennial beds. What has kept the plants going is the amount of moisture. The moisture has leached out most of, if not all of the fertilizer out of the soil. If you are not replacing that missing fertilizer, your plants will decline quickly when the sun does come out. Plants need fertilizer to grow green growth, flower buds and a strong root system. Fertilizer also helps plants to fight off fungus diseases. With all of the rain that we have had and all of the cool and damp weather, fungus diseases are and will be spreading fast. Fertilizing your plants will help the plants to fight off those diseases. As soon as possible, you should be applying fertilizer to all of your plants. This also means that you should be fertilizing your lawn too. You can use an organic or chemical fertilizer, granular or mixed with water. The form of fertilizer is not as important as making sure that all of your gardens and lawns get fertilized.
I know the question will come up concerning fertilizing shrubs too. Yes, it is important to fertilize the shrubs too. It is not too late to fertilize flowering trees and shrubs. The spring flowering shrubs will need the fertilizer to help set flower buds for 2010. Summer flowering shrubs will definitely need fertilizer to help them flower properly this summer.
The 4th of July is the normal time for the emergence of the Japanese Beetles. I am not really sure how the rainy and damp weather will affect the timing of their arrival. I am not even positive how bad the infestation will be this summer. The point is you should be setting up your Japanese Beetle traps soon. If you have an old trap, replace the bait and lure and put a new bag on the trap. If you are setting up a new or old trap, make sure it is set up on a sunny lawn area, about 10 feet away from plants that you are trying to protect from the beetles. Once the beetles begin to get trapped, make sure to change the bag on a weekly basis. If you don’t, the beetles will die in the bag and the smell will help to mask the scent given off from the trap.
An effective way to keep Japanese Beetles off of your plants is to spray Neem oil onto the plants. The Neem will kill the beetles if they eat parts of the treated plant. The scent of the Neem also acts as a repellent against Japanese Beetles.
Once the rain has stopped, it will be important for you to check all of your gardens for signs of fungus diseases and insect infestations. I know that many of you will have been reluctant to work in the wet gardens, but you do need to take some time to check on your plants. An application of an insecticide or a fungicide will prevent many problems that are mild from becoming severe.
I am reluctant to bring up the bad news about how well weeds grow in rainy weather. Once the rain lets up, get out to the gardens and begin weeding. It doesn’t have to be done all in one day. You can break it up into sections and do a little bit after work or do a larger section on your day off. Along with taking nutrients away from your plants, certain weeds can be a haven for insects. Get out the gloves and your trusty trug and get those weeds out of the garden.
Well, that’s all for this week. Have a safe and happy 4th. I’ll talk to you again next week.