Fox Island Garden Club

Gardening Tip of the Month
By Linda Dodds

July Tip of the Month
Sunday, July 01, 2018
Summer is finally here and along with it comes a multitude of garden chores. Number one is to keep after the emerging weeds that seem to spring up constantly around here. We may not have an endless supply of sunshine, but weeds are something we can always count on in the Northwest.

Keeping your blooming plants neat and free of dried blooms is second. Petunias especially need to be kept tidy to keep them blooming longer. Geraniums are another plant that appreciates and blooms more with the wilted flowers removed. Dahlia and daylily blooms should be removed as soon as they start drying up and of course the rhododendrons need to be stripped of their dried up blossoms to keep them looking their best. If you want the rhodyís to continue to grow then be careful when you deadhead them and do not break off the candles that border the blossoms as they house the new growth.

There are some plants that really never need to be deadheaded and that list includes lobelia, alyssum and impatiens so add a lot of these plants to your garden too. Most trailing annuals do fine without a lot of deadheading but an occasional trim will help all plants and vines grow lush with flowers.

Chore number three is pruning. The old way of thinking had people pruning their fruit trees in the winter when they were devoid of leaves. However the new suggestion is to prune in the summer which reduces the chance of branches that grow straight up in the air. These branches are known as water sprouts will bear no fruit. In fact they just take away the chance for other fruit producing branches to grow as well as hurting the look of the tree. Any shrubs that impede your walking paths should be trimmed back too along with any unruly growth on any shrub or tree. Keeping the dead leaves raked up removing your pruningís can make a huge difference in the appearance of your yard.

If you are a vegetable gardener, than you have lots of work to keep your garden producing. Check daily for slug damage to tender new leaves and dispose of them when you see them. A nice bucket of water just works fine for this or a stick with a nail through the end makes and ideal slug defensive weapon. If you use commercial slug bait, read the label to be sure it is safe to use around children, birds and pets.

Peas and pole beans need to be trained to climb and kept from trailing all over the ground. Once they can reach a place to attach their tendrilsí nature will take over and show them the way. Tomato plants also need to have some support by either cages or staked and tied to a sturdy post. And here is the secret for removing the branches that will never produce fruit and just drain the plant of energy and shade the fruit. When there is a trio of branches all growing from the same point, remove the one in the middle. That opens up the plant for better air circulation as well as promoting new flowering branch growth.

Thin out crowded vegetables start such as radishes, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard etc. and add them to a fresh salad. Add a little compost along the rows and work into the soil. Keep vegetables watered and water early in the morning so the sun can have a chance to dry off the leaves before the sun sets in the evening. And now we have come full circle to where we started out withÖ weed, weed and weed.

June Garden Tip of the Month
Friday, June 01, 2018
May brought very few showers, lots of weeds but it also ushered in earlier warmer weather. So if you havenít already done so, now is the time when pretty much everything that you want to put in your garden can be planted. All flowering annuals such as petunias, lobelia, nasturtiums, inpatients and other tender plants can be planted now. For the veggie garden you can put in your tomato plants, zucchini, corn, beans peppers and tender basil. I find it best to not plant the bedding plants immediately after purchasing them at a store as they may not be hardened off properly. Hardening off is a term used by gardeners which translates to slowly exposing plants to the outdoors. Think of yourself going out on the first hot sunny day without any sun screen and working 6 hours in the bright sunshine. Chances are you will get a very nasty sunburn. Or imagine living in central Africa and moving directly to Fairbanks, AlaskaÖin the dead of winter. You would be freezing all the time. Plants needed to be acclimated to the outdoors too so put them out in the exposed weather for a few hours a day and slowly increasing their exposure. Protect them at the nighttime until gradually increasing their exposure to the elements. Once they are acclimated, they can be planted in their permanent homes. I think it makes sense to always ask a vendor at the farmerís market or roadside stands if the plants have been hardened off first as many times small growers donít have the time or manpower to harden off their starts before marketing them.

If you have a compost pile mellowing in your yard, you have the basis of a wonderful garden. Dig in a shovel full of compost into the top inch or so of your soil before planting seeds. If you are putting in bedding plants, add some compost along with a sprinkling of alfalfa meal into the hole before placing in the plant. That is all I ever add to my tomato plants as far as fertilizer. Blooming annuals however and especially those in planters need a regular drink of liquid fertilizer to keep the blooms going throughout the summer. I find Alaska fish fertilizer works well even though it may have an unpleasant odor. However the aroma t dissipates quickly enough from the plants and a shower washes it off you just fine too.

This is the time to get on a regular schedule of spraying to deer proof your garden. I find that Liquid Fence works the best for me but there are other products out there that I am sure would also work just fine. The first couple of times I spray, I do it once a week, then go to every two weeks and max out at three weeks. It seems like every time I go over the three week limit, the deer start eating to their hearts content. It is nasty smelling stuff as it is made out of rotten eggs and garlic but it really does the trick. I always plan on spraying it before I take a shower as the smell really sticks to my clothes and body. If you have another product that works for you, let me know what you are using so I can share it with my readers.

As the Rhody blossoms start to dry up and fall off, itís time to dead head the blossoms. Just pinch off the dried blossoms and try not to break off the new leaves that grow adjacent to them. Of course, if your Rhodys are like some of mine and are so tall that the only way to reach the top branches requires having at least a 6 ft ladder, then donít worry about not adding to the height of the plant.
My last tip is the same one I pretty much give you every month and that is to weed, weed and weed! And enjoy watching your garden grow.