40 June 30, 2010

June is coming to an end and summer is upon us now. With warm days and occasional rain, our plants are growing at a rapid rate.

I think there is a tendency for many people to get the plants in during the spring and then as other activities take place, the garden can be ignored. Those who are lucky enough to be retired can spend some extra time in the garden. Most of us are working and also have other commitments. With Independence Day just around the corner, I thought I would give you some suggestions that would give you a bit of Independence from your gardens. No, you don’t get away from doing anything, but this will be a couple of suggestions to make your life easier and things that will make your gardens happier.

I have said it before but it bears repeating again. You will get the best results from your plants if they have a steady supply of fertilizer. The problem is, many gardeners simply forget to feed their plants. There is a fertilizer that many greenhouses use to fertilize their plants. The fertilizer is mixed into the soil at planting time and the fertilizer slowly releases the fertilizer over 4  months. The most commonly available of these timed-release fertilizers is called Osmocote. If you know about this product, you probably used it when you planted your gardens. At the store, we use it on many of the container planters. What many people don’t know is that they can add it to the surface of the soil after the plants are established. Annual flowers and vegetable plants respond well to the 4-month formula of Osmocote. If you haven’t already done so, add some to your flowering hanging baskets, window boxes, annual flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. As water is applied to the soil, a measured amount of fertilizer is released into the soil. This gives the plants the 3 square meals that they need for optimum growth. If you combine the application of Osmocote with a monthly or twice monthly application of a water-soluble fertilizer, your plants will be growing at their very best.

Watering of plants always seems to be a problem for gardeners. Inexperienced gardeners will get home from work and head out to the garden for some relaxation. They will grab the hose and the spray nozzle and stand by the gardens applying a gentle spray of water onto the foliage. It is relaxing after a long day at work but it is absolutely the wrong thing to do to your plants. If plant leaves go into the evening hours with wet foliage, your plants will develop a fungus disease. Plants should always be watered in the morning. This allows time for the leaves to dry out before evening. Plants also benefit from the morning watering because watering at this time allows the plants to take up the water they will need to get through the heat of the day. Yet many of us do not have the time to stand out there for the necessary amount of time to get sufficient water on the plants. You can make watering your gardens easier by installing soaker hoses in your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. These black rubber hoses have many tiny pores that allow water to ooze out of the length of the hose. The soaker hoses are placed near the plants and held in place with garden staples. The staples are U shaped wires that go over the hose and secure the hose onto the surface of the ground. The soaker hoses will effectively water an area three feet wide. Once the soaker hoses are in place, you turn on the water and let the water run for one half to an hour. This will put a tremendous amount of water onto the soil in a gentle manner and it will allow that water to soak down to the roots. Watering this way means you won’t have to water every day. You may find that you will only have to water your gardens once or twice a week. Another benefit of soaker hoses is that they put water onto the soil and not onto the leaves of the plants. This greatly reduces the incidence of fungus diseases getting a start on your plants.

By doing these two things in your gardens, your plants will grow better and you will have a little extra time to do things like weeding your gardens!

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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