28June 28, 2018

The calendar may say that it is summer, but the thermometer says that it is 50 degrees on Tuesday morning. However, the weather forecast says we may be in for some 90-degree weather this weekend and into next week. The tomato plants will love that kind of weather.

If you haven’t mulched your perennial beds yet this season or if you haven’t put mulch around those newly planted shrubs, now is the time to do so. As the temperatures warm the soil and the sun dries the soil, your plants may suffer if they don’t have mulch around the plants. Many people think of mulch as being more of a decorative finish to the shrub border and the perennial beds. The real reason for using mulch is that it will act as a superb insulation to protect plant roots. A 3-inch layer of mulch will protect those roots from drying out in the summer sun and will also protect those roots from the freeze and thaw cycle of winter. Mulch will also hold in moisture around the roots on those hot summer days.

When you apply mulch, you do not want to have the mulch touching the stems of the perennials or shrubs. Mulch should also never be mounded up onto the trunk of trees. Mulch placed against the stems or trunk will cause the bark to rot away over time and this will lead to the death of the plant. Once you have mulched your plants, you will find that next year and in years to come, you will only need to add a one-inch layer of mulch to freshen up the mulch. There is no need to remove all the mulch and replace it with a new 3-inch layer each spring. As the mulch ages, it will naturally turn into organic material that will improve the soil in your shrub border or around your perennials.

At about this time each summer, people will come into the store and ask why their squash plants are producing flowers but the flowers are not turning into little squashes. The answer is that squash will produce male flowers first and then female flowers will show up a bit later. Once the female flowers are pollinated, you will begin to get squash.

Another problem that can crop up on squashes, cucumbers and particularly on tomatoes is the lack of pollination of the flowers. This can be related to hot days or the lack of bees to pollinate the flowers. If this is a problem on your plants, there is a spray that you can spritz onto the flowers that will help to pollinate the flowers. The spray goes by many different names, but they all work the same. On your tomato plants, you wait until the tomato flowers open and then you spray the cluster of flowers. As an added bonus, on your tomatoes, you will often get few or no seeds in the tomatoes that are sprayed with this product. We carry this type of spray in the store.

Hot and sunny days may mean that you will need to water more often than you normally would. Container grown plants my need to be watered multiple times per day. As you have heard me say before, it is best to water in the morning. However, if you get home from work and the plants need water, please just put the water at the base of the plant and try not to get the foliage wet. Wet foliage going into the nighttime hours is a sure fire way to encourage the formation of fungus diseases on your plants.

As we approach the 4ht of July, you will begin to see the arrival of the Japanese beetles in your yard. These beetles will love to feast on all types of plants in your yard. Once you begin to see the beetles on your plants, it is time to apply an application of an appropriate insecticide. Please keep in mind that some sprays are appropriate for flowers but not for vegetable. Also keep in mind that just because an insecticide is organic does not mean that it is safe for the bees that visit you gardens. Please read the label or ask which insecticides are safest for the bee population.

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

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