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10 gardening tasks to do now

Submitted Photo Gardening never stops. There’s plenty to do after gardens are planted and growing.

Now that we have our gardens planted, weeded, and growing, we think we can kick back and let Mother Nature do the rest. If only it were that easy. Gardening never stops, even in the winter there are still things to do, but let us concentrate on right now.

1. Tend to rose bushes.

Ensure rose bushes are getting proper nurturance and water. Watering should be done in early morning and soaking the ground is more effective than watering the foliage. Deadhead roses after they have flowered. This quick and easy job stimulates growth of new blooms and extends flowering time for many varieties. Snip off the old flower at the next set of leaves closest to the bloom. Deadheading encourages the plant to send new shoots from the leaves near the top of the bush.

2. Deadhead other flowering plants.

Deadheading is the term used for pinching or snipping off faded blooms. This, not only cleans up the plant, but also encourages more blooms. If you want your plant to reseed for next year, stop deadheading in August, allow the bloom to dry naturally, and leave the dried foliage. Besides reseeding, this will add winter interest to your landscape, food for the birds, and give pollinators a winter home.

3. Pinch out suckers from tomato plants.

Suckers form at the base of a leaf and the stem. Simply use your fingernails to pinch off new shoots. This helps control the plant and provides more energy for making fruit. Pinching suckers will need to be done continually during the growing season.

4. Lilacs have finished blooming, so now is the time to prune them.

Prune after flowers have faded, but before new woody growth has begun. Pruning lilacs now rather than later in the growing season reduces risk of cutting off next year’s blooms. You may also start seeing white powder on the leaves; this is powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is prevalent in warm, dry weather. Trim out a few old stems near the ground to improve airflow and water at the base of the plant during drought. Powdery mildew tends to settle on plants stressed by a lack of water.

5. Replant salad greens and herbs.

Salad greens do not have to be a one-time planting. You can harvest a nice crop of salad greens again in as little as 30 days; read the back of the seed packet for information on harvesting.

6. Stop mowing low.

Raising the blade of your mower ensures that there is plenty of leaf surface available to keep the plant healthy. Mowing high allows the grass to build up its food reserves and grow better roots, which means a greener and healthier lawn, less water usage, and it can handle summer heat a little better.

7. Help our feathered friends by watering.

It can be difficult for birds to find water in the wild, especially during the summer months. Beyond quenching thirst and rehydrating, water helps birds preen, it cleans their feathers, and even helps remove parasites. A birdbath should be kept shallow; birds do not bathe in deep water. If possible, place it near covered, shady area and keep it clean with fresh water daily. Remember too, that birds eat bugs; the more birds, the less bugs.

8. If growing container plants, now is a good time to reinvigorate them.

Add slow release fertilizer to the pot or use a water-based fertilizer. Container plants use up resources fast, giving them a little extra fertilizer will help them last through the summer. Some heat-loving annuals, such as petunias and calibrachoa, respond well to a midsummer trim to prevent stringy, long stems or legginess. Prune established plants to encourage new growth and beautiful, healthy plants.

9. Weed and fertilize rhubarb and asparagus beds.

A mulch of compost or well-aged rotted manure works well as fertilizer. Watering deeply will help develop heathy crowns for next year.

10. Now is the best time to start thinking about spring bulbs.

Start ordering them now. You will want to get bulbs planted into beds in September to ensure good root growth going into winter.

Finally, be sure to take time to enjoy all of your hard work. I feel there is nothing better now than relaxing amongst my flowers.

Happy Gardening!

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