I do try to come up with another opening to this column rather than the weather. But really the weather dominates my life 12 months of the year. Now that we are past the June full moon, minimum temperatures are slowly increasing even though next week the predicted highs are not much higher than the lows. In the veggie garden, the good news about the weather is we don’t have to be watering all the time and the lettuce and such is not as prone to bolting.
The cool nights we are experiencing cannot help the squash, tomatoes and cucumbers develop though. I look at my squash each morning and they look back at me, too busy shivering to put on any growth. Hopefully they are making little roots underneath, the better to produce when we finally get some optimum temperatures. I finally resorted to hot caps for a couple of nights this past week.
If I was a realistic west coast gardener I would have put up a plastic tent over my squash to give them a helping hand to begin with, but as I have said many times in this space, hope springs eternal – especially when it comes to farming and gardening. I am realistic enough though to keep my tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse. Seriously though, keep an eye on your basil and coleus in particular. Both need at least a minimum temperature of 10.
It does seem that spring is just getting going but now is the time to seed for late fall and winter harvests – Brussels sprouts, winter cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, and winter cauliflower for example. If you don’t have the room to seed right now or don’t have the inclination, nurseries and garden centres will have starts for setting-out at the end of summer. It is best to be sure to have your seed on hand for winter spinach, hardy lettuce, corn salad, arugula, collards and kales, kohlrabi, over-wintering carrots, and so on. Some garden centres return unsold seed packets to their supplier about this time of year and some suppliers run out of the most popular varieties.
Deadhead spring flowering rhodos, brunnera, epimedium, lilacs, weigela, peonies, tree peonies etc. Most of the deadheading is for aesthetics but the peony and tree peony will be busy putting energy into seed rather than their roots. Propagation of peonies is by root division rather than seed, as most varieties do not come true from seed and it may take seven to nine years to get a peony from seed to flower. Tree peonies are propagated by grafting.
This is also a good time to fill in holes in perennial borders. That is if you are able to water through the summer. If you will be away or water supply is tight it is best to wait until fall to plant your perennials.
The tent caterpillars have come out of their tents and are eating leaves. Watch your fruit trees and ornamental cherries, roses etc. BTK or bacillus thuringiensis should be sprayed on the leaves ahead of where the caterpillars are eating. It will not bother the caterpillar if it is sprayed directly on their body. BTK is not harmful to humans, birds, pets, fish, honeybees, beetles, spiders etc.
We have been cutting nests out of our trees and have managed quite well to lessen the impact here. We are hand picking the little devils off the nursery stock as we find them. It may intensify for us though. Yesterday there were dozens coming over the eight foot fence on the north side of the property. Apparently they are through with the alders and cottonwoods in the forest and are moving on. Check out the little cherry tree (I think it is cherry) in front of the post office if you want to see the damage they can do.
This damp cool weather is slug heaven. So check your borders for slug damage and hand pick in the early morning or put out slug bait or use any of the well known slug catchers such as shallow containers of beer.
Our front border project is nearing completion. What is done looks wonderful. In case you missed my last column, I had tried to have rhodos, azaleas, pieris, and various Japanese maples in a shade garden under a group of large trees including maples with mixed results. The large trees were sucking up any good out of the soil and most of the water and the smaller trees and shrubs were suffering. We dug up and placed most of the plant material in oversized pots. Some are buried up to the rim; some are in decorative pots on the surface. I am hoping for great results. Have a look as you drop by.
Linda Black is the owner and team leader at Wheelbarrel Nursery on South Road. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
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