2008-06-19 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

I harvested the first of the red bliss potatoes yesterday… well actually, I rooted around the roots of the red bliss potato plant and took some of the twoinch diameter potatoes for an early salad. You can do the same if you grow early taters, too. Just be careful not to disturb the rest of the plant.

We're now getting into the harvesting season. The asparagus has given so many fine stalks this year that I feel I should get down on my knees and thank the plants. I must have harvested about 15 pounds. The tops are eaten immediately, while the lower portions are frozen to make asparagus soup. However, I notice asparagus beetles are descending on the stalks, so now is the time to spray to get rid of them.

If you grow onions and scallions, they are starting to bulb out right about now, so you should hit them with blood meal or a high nitrogen fertilizer to help the bulbs develop. Mulch between plants to stop weeds from competing for food and keep the plants watered in dry weather.

Check on your tomato, peppers and eggplant bushes. They should be growing fine with no sign of insect damage. If you find chewed leaves, look for a giant yellow and green striped caterpillar and remove it. Check for squash beetles and crush them before they can lay eggs.

Feed your brassicas (cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts), in the summer heat they'll soon go dormant for a short period so get them as large as possible to enable them to withstand the stress. Make sure you water deeply and often, too. You might also mulch around your plants to keep weeds down.

Flower garden

Look for any gaps in the color palette and fill them with annuals. Mark the gap so that you can fill it with a perennial next season. If your daylilies have grown too large, wait until the flowers die back and then lift and divide the clumps.

If you have a shady garden and need to fill it, the old standbys are hostas, astilbe, and impatiens. Hostas provide a deep green background against which you can set colorful impatiens, or you can add red, white or pink astilbe to give some height to the planting. But remember, deer love hostas so you might want to spray them with Deer-off.

If you have a large, moist shady area that you don't know what to do with, why not try a fern garden. There are many hardy ferns that can enhance the value of your shady garden.

Another problem area is against a wall. If you want a colorful display, why not set the old-fashioned sweet peas on a degradable string trellis against the wall. Sweet peas grow fast and have a wonderful aroma. They make good cut flowers, too. At the end of the season simply cut the strings and toss the entire mess into the compost.

Fruit trees

Most blossoms have dropped, so it's time to spray against coddling moth and apple maggot fly. Check the tips of new shoots to ensure that they have not been colonized by aphids. If they have, knock the aphids off with a strong jet of water and put Tanglefoot around the trunk to prevent ants from bringing more aphids aboard.

Soft fruit

Harvest rhubarb. Feed and water red, white, and black currents, jostaberries, gooseberries, and raspberries. Otherwise wait for the flavorful harvest.

Containers

With the hot weather we've been having you'll need to make sure your hanging baskets and containers are watered constantly or your plants will wilt. Deadhead geraniums and pelargoniums as the flowers die to keep new flower heads developing.

Taking Care of You

Finally, make sure that you wear sunblock when working in your garden and stay hydrated. Gardening can be strenuous at this time of year and you need to protect yourself properly so that you can read these words of wisdom over the next few years! Have fun out there!

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