Summer’s knocking at our door, and it’s prime planting season!
This month we’re talking about taking care of yourself in the garden, using edible flowers in the kitchen, and getting the most from your vegetables and fruit this year.
Plus we’ll discuss some season specific houseplant care reminders that we all need to hear.
In The Garden
If you’re planning to be outside for extended periods of time, make it easier on yourself by working in the morning or evening.
That way you’ll avoid the brunt of the heat and humidity.
Similar to how some plants don’t handle heat well, you should take similar steps to care for yourself.
No matter what time you’re working outside, be sure to stay hydrated.
Always wear sunscreen, then apply bug protection like Deet.
Ticks are one of the worst pests in the garden because they can carry diseases that can seriously affect us and our pets, so it’s very important to take precautions to protect against them.
Wear closed-toed shoes, tuck your pants into your socks, and your shirt into your pants.
After being in the garden, always do a tick check and take a shower. If you can, wear long sleeves and long pants — and work more during mornings and evenings. These types of clothes should also help prevent contact with poisonous plants such as poison ivy and oak.
If you have a bad run-in with either, I recommend Poison Ivy & Oak Soap.
It’s not too late to plant whatever you’re interested in having this summer.
When you’re planting vegetables and fruit, you always hope for the best results possible — spending time carefully selecting plants that look the best, buying nice soil and mulch, and spending time caring for them after planting. If you haven’t used it before, Tomato Tone and Garden Tone are fantastic ways to boost your harvest quality this year. Tomato Tone is specifically formulated for growing plump and juicy tomatoes, and since Espoma’s composition is organic, it feeds the plants naturally and won’t force rapid growth at the expense of blooms and tomato yield. Similarly, Garden Tone helps to establish a deeper root system, and promotes bigger and more abundant harvests.
I recommend Espoma’s Tone products daily since they’re what I would use in my own garden.
You can truly experiment and enhance the taste of your food this summer by planting edible flowers.
I encourage you to research more if this interests you.
Some examples of ways you can use edible flowers include garnishing salads, adding to eggs, freezing in ice cubes, and being infused in drinks, jellies, and desserts. Take time to understand how to use a flower if you plan to add it to a dish. Although it may seem a little unusual to use flowers in food, it’s a great way to expand your horizons and utilize plants in different ways.
(Please be safe and double-check online before eating any flowers. Yes, some are edible, but many are poisonous or could cause an awful allergic reaction. Be smart and do your research first.)
In regards to the kitchen, if you’re growing herbs this year, remember that herbs will lose their taste when they bloom and produce seed. To prevent this, prune any blossoms that appear.
If you’ve planted or plan to plant any new trees and shrubs this year, you will need to water them until they are established (for about two years). They need to be watered deeply so that the soil directly underneath and the rootball are completely soaked. You can check if you’re watering deeply enough by digging a small hole after watering.
It should be moist at least 6 inches down. A two to three inch layer of mulch would aid in helping to trap moisture. If you decide to mulch, keep it away from the trunk.
When the blooms have died off, the following can be pruned: irises, roses, lilacs, azaleas, forsythias, Japanese kerrias, weigelas, deutzias, mockoranges, St. John’s worts, viburnums, wysterias, redtwig dogwoods, and yellowtwig dogwoods.
After spending all of that time in the garden, consider taking time to plan where you’d like to plant fall bulbs and perennials. Then, when the time comes to get those plants, you’ll have a plan and a shopping list ready to go.
In The House
Stay vigilant with monitoring for pests such as mealybugs and fungus gnats. If you see something unusual appearing on your houseplants, come get some Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil in our greenhouse. Apply on affected plants once a week for at least three weeks.
If you’re going away for vacation this summer for more than one week, consider having a friend water and check on your plants.
Yes, we should make sure our pets are taken care of when we’re going away, but we have to remember plants are alive and need care, too.
Don’t forget to rotate your plants every so often so that they don’t grow completely lopsided, especially if you have limited light in your space. And keep your drip trays and saucers empty.
You don’t want your plants sitting in what’s leftover for the next week or so. Excess and unnecessary water has the potential to cause root rot if a plant sits in it for too long.
If you’re prone to overwatering, I highly recommend getting yourself a moisture meter. We have them available in our Plant Barn. A moisture meter can go deeper into a pot than our fingertips can reach, and they have the ability to show us if there’s moisture at the bottom of a pot.
Remember, plants have sensitivities to the sun just like we do. So, if any of your plants show signs of sun burning or scorching, move it away from the window into a place where it will get less direct sun.
And finally if you’re wanting to move your plants outside and have yet to do so, you need to acclimate them slowly.
They need time to adjust to the conditions comfortably, otherwise you may risk shocking them depending on how sensitive they are.
Happy gardening & happy summer!
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)