Our gardens are starting to take off this month and we’re really excited to see how it’s all going to come together as our plants begin to fill out. Don’t forget to make notes in your journal about what you’re doing. (Where did I put that journal???)
Water and Weed
- It’s been hot and dry lately on Block Island (and will be soon in SoCal) so make sure plants have enough water and plenty of mulch. Mulch will slow water evaporation, keep weeds down, and keep soil temps more consistent; all of which will make your plants happy and less stressed.
- Keep ahead of the weeds. Removing them before they have a chance to set seed or spread too far will make your job easier later in the season. Weeds consume resources that should be going to the plants you want to grow.
- In heavy clay soil it’s so much easier to weed right after you water.
Feed and Prune
- Roses should be fed with an organic fertilizer like Rose-tone or fish emulsion. Kellogg also has a good organic fertilizer for roses. (In SoCal it’s rose slug season again. If your leaves are beginning to look like skeletons, it’s a good bet that these little buggers are feasting. Spray with spinosad to get rid of them, but be sure to do it in the early morning when the wind is calm and before the bees and other beneficial insects are out and about. Here are links to posts about rose slugs and spinosad.)
- Feed fuchsias, camellias, ferns, tropicals, and all your other annuals and perennials.
- Take care of your container plants, including succulents, by keeping them well watered and fed with a light solution of fish emulsion.
- Deadhead flowers to encourage new growth. The first spring flush is just about done for a lot for plants, but you can keep many of them going by snipping off the dead blossoms. Feed them a light solution of fish emulsion when you’re done.
- Deadhead lilacs after they bloom so they won’t spend their energy producing seed heads. (Give me a moment to mourn lilacs and peonies — two favorites that don’t grow in SoCal. Miss them so!)
- Pinch asters, chrysanthemums, and Montauk daisies back to encourage bushier plants and more flowers for the fall.
- Pinch off growing tips of fuchsias for bushier plants.
- Divide iris every 3 years after they bloom. Make new beds for your extras or offer them to gardener friends. I’ve had fun leaving extra plants on my curb with a sign telling folks to help themselves. Some have even brought me plants in exchange.
- Cut lavender blooms in the morning while the aromatic oils are the strongest.
- Tie up clematis during their growth surges, the new growth is fragile and will break off in the wind.
- Feed staghorn ferns by tucking a banana peel behind the fronds every couple of weeks, or drench with diluted fish emulsion (per package directions).
Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables
- Feed citrus and avocado; both are heavy feeders. Use a good organic fertilizer formulated especially for these trees and follow package directions.
- Stake or cage tomato plants. Keep tying them up as they grow.
- Plant herbs and summer vegetables and side-dress with a good organic compost.
- Make sure your plants are getting enough water and mulch them well. Drip irrigation works especially well in the vegetable garden.
When planting or transplanting Mary Beth and I have had great success in reducing or eliminating plant shock by watering with a diluted solution of 1 tbs fish emulsion + 1 tsp Stress-X, or 1 tbs kelp/seaweed extract to a gallon of water.