Spring Garden Tips

Melinda's Gardening Tips for Late July

Whether you are hoping for a big harvest, a beautiful landscape, or a little stress relief, knowing the when and how of gardening will help you be a success. Use these timely garden tips to eliminate some of the guesswork. For more gardening tips, check out Melinda's gardening books.


A gardener shared a nifty way of applying total vegetation killer to weeds without harming nearby plants. Simply attach sponges to the clasping ends of tongues. Dip the sponges in Roundup, Finale or other total vegetation killer. Clasp the weed leaf between the sponges and pull. Label tongues for Herbicide Use only and store in the garage or shed.


Growing Green

Collect and use water from your dehumidifier and water cooled air conditioner to water container gardens and houseplants.

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Gardening Tips for Flowers

Keep summer alive throughout the year by preserving a few of your garden flowers. Try to wait until mid day to pick flowers for drying. The plants have already started the drying process for you. Remove the leaves and gather a few stems into a bundle. Secure the bundle with a rubber band. As the flower stems shrink the rubber band contracts holding them in place. Use a spring type clothes pin to secure the bundle to a line, rack or other structure. Place in a dry dark location until thoroughly dry.

Give lack luster container plantings a boost. Frequent watering washes away many nutrients the plants need to grow and flourish. One application of a slow release fertilizer releases small amounts of nutrients over a long period of time. This is better for the plants and means less work for you.

Cut back lobelia and other leggy or heat stressed annuals. Use a pruning shears, garden scissors or hand pruners to cut stems back by one half. Continue to water as needed. Soon your plants will be filled with fresh green leaves and beautiful blossoms.

The leaves of many perennial geraniums (Geranium sanguineum) are spotted, scorched or floppy. Remove the old leaves allowing the basal growth (new leaves at base of the plant) to develop and create an attractive display for the remainder of the season.

A Fabulous Garden in 5 Easy Steps

Fall Landscape Care in 5 Easy Steps


Gardening Tips for Edibles

Prune raspberries after harvest. Remove summer bearing canes to ground level. This improves air flow and light penetration reducing disease and increasing future harvest. This is also a good time to remove diseased or insect infested canes. Do not prune any of the remaining canes since these will bear fruit in the fall on ever bearing plants and next summer for summer bearing fruit. Additional thinning and pruning will be done in late winter

A taste will tell you when cherries are ready for harvest. Pick when the fruit is fully colored, juicy and flavorful. Leave the stems attached to sweet cherries. You can store them for several weeks in cool 32 to 40 degree location.

Pick summer squash when 6-8 inches, 3-6 inches for scalloped types – keep picking the fruit and they will keep producing. And start watching for your first ripe tomato. They are ready to pick and will have their best flavor when fully colored and left on the vine for an additional 5 to 8 days.

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Trees, Shrubs and Roses

Japanese beetles are out and eating a wide range of landscape plants. They metallic coppery green beetles eat leaf tissue giving it a lacey appearance. Pick, drop and squash the beetles as they are found. Or drop them into a container of soapy water. Those opting for a pesticide should read and follow label directions carefully. Select an insecticide labeled for controlling Japanese beetles. Just remember you may also be killing the bees, butterflies and other good guys that also visit the Japanese beetle infested plants.

Don't forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs throughout the season. Check the soil twice a week in sandy soils and every 5 to 10 in clay soils. Even established trees and shrubs benefit from a thorough watering during extended dry periods. You may need to prioritize plantings if your community imposes watering restrictions. New plantings and container gardens should receive the highest priority. Moisture loving plants like birch, European mountain ash and hydrangeas should be next on the list. This will help you focus your efforts on the plants in greatest need.

Deer and rabbits are eating the roses and other plants faster than you can enjoy them. Scare tactics may work for rural deer not used to the sound, sight and smell of humans. Regular applications of homemade or commercial repellents may provide relief. Motion sensitive lights and sprinklers have proved successful for some gardeners. But the best control remains a fence. A 5 ft fence around a small planting will keep out the deer. Keep the fence tight to the ground to discourage rabbits. Not matter what method you use - monitor the plants for damage and alter control measures as needed.

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Lawns and Groundcovers

If you allowed your lawn to go dormant – keep it that way until the cooler weather and rains return. Putting your lawn in and out of dormancy is stressful and can eventually kill your lawn.

Those watering should continue to water thoroughly and only when the top few inches of soil are crumbly or footprints are left behind when walking across the lawn.

Further help your heat and drought stressed lawns through the dog days of summer. Do not use weed killers at this time of year since they may damage the stressed grass. Plus new weeds usually fill the vacant spots left by the treated weeds.

Continue pulling weeds in groundcover beds. The number of weeds begins to decrease as the groundcover becomes established and fills the planting bed. Spot treat quackgrass, bindweed and other difficult perennial weeds with a total vegetation killer. Cover weeds with a bottomed out milk jug or wipe the weeds wit the herbicide to avoid damage to your desirable plants.

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Tips for Indoor Plants

Before packing up the car and closing down the house, make sure your indoor plants are set and ready for your vacation. A plant sitter is an ideal solution. Finding a trusted plant lover to "sit" your plants is not that easy. You may need to find an alternative to personal attention and care.

Those going on short trips may be able to create a terrarium of sorts. Water your plants thoroughly. Then fill a sink or tub with an inch of water. Set the plants on bricks or other supports so they sit above not in the water. Then loosely cover the sink or tub with plastic. The evaporating water and captured humidity should keep tropical plants happy for several weeks. Cacti and succulents will be fine on their own.

Or purchase or make a self watering system. Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water. Run strips of cotton or old stockings from the water to the soil in the pots. The water moves from the bucket through the wick to keep the soil moist. Test the system before leaving on your trip.

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ASK MELINDA - Get immediate answers to your gardening questions! Check out my searchable database of more than 30 years of questions and answers, podcasts and videos.

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