2006-07-13 / News

The Island Garden

RRain, rain, go away, come again

By Roger Marshall By Roger Marshall another day. The old nursery rhyme has had no effect on Rthis year's rain. As I write, the sun is out, but more rain is forecast.

Usually, we are protecting our gardens against drought right about now, but this year is different and our gardens are benefiting. This is the time that the harvest really begins while bright colorful flowers light up our yards and gardens. However, the rain has beaten a lot of taller flowers down and delayed some of the harvest. About all that is ready to be picked now are peas and herbs. In the flower garden, many plants have flower buds but the taller ones will need to be restaked before the next rain.

The major problem in July and August is usually the heat. Plants don't like too much heat and stop growing when temperatures get over 80 to 85 degrees, so you want to get your plants as large as possible before late July and August's heat sets in. This means applying a little fertilizer, which can be organic - bloodmeal, bonemeal, or greensand - or you can use a general-purpose fertilizer such as Scott's Miracle Gro to help plants get through the stress of summer. If you are fertilizing flowers, use Bloom or other flower fertilizer.

In the vegetable garden

By now you should have harvested all your peas and have potatoes coming along nicely. The other night I carefully felt around the stems of some of the potatoes and found some lovely thin-skinned new Yukon Gold potatoes that I boiled with a sprig of mint to complement a grilled steak dinner. You never find potatoes this new in supermarkets, and being able to find a few early ones makes having a vegetable garden well worthwhile. By the way, if anyone wants any mint to go with their fresh lamb, let me know. My mint escaped its container and is a job to control.

The corn in the greenhouse has long tassels on it, but outdoor corn is only about 4 feet high. Tassels will develop on the outdoor corn in a couple of more weeks. By planting both in the greenhouse and outdoors, I get the benefit of a longer harvest. Squash is beginning to run rampant so keep an eye on zucchini and pick the fruits while they are small. If you grow onions, hit them with blood meal or a high nitrogen fertilizer as they develop bulbs.

In the flower garden

If anyone wants some Bee Balm, let me know. I will be thinning it after it flowers in a week or two. As I mentioned earlier, make sure your taller flowers are staked. Prune clematis, rhododendrons, and plants that are past flowering to give them time to set flower buds for next year. Make sure you clip off any heads of chives, garlic, onions, colombine, and any other seed heads or they'll cast their seed into your garden and swamp you with new plants next year, not necessarily in the colors that you want. Keep pulling weeds and lay fresh mulch as needed.

Lawns

Try not to cut your lawn after or during rain. All that walking on the lawn compacts the soil and slows the lawn's growth. If possible wait until the lawn is dry. Keep lawns cut higher this time of year, so that should a drought occur the soil is sheltered and weeds cannot germinate.

Soft fruit

Harvest red currants, black currants, strawberries, and raspberries. Use the berries for pies, jams and jellies, although I am going to try making some country wine with leftover fruit.

Hedges

If you haven't done so, clip privet, yew, and arbor vitae hedges. Remember to clean the cuttings off the lawn before they can rot and kill the grass. Make sure the hedge is narrower at the top than it is at the bottom to get a solid, thick hedge.

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