One of my favourite things about gardening is that you never stop learning. Each year you spend in the garden you discover something new: maybe something that doesn’t work so well, or a new trick to keeping the deer out. Perhaps a neighbour stops by and shares what helped them find success with a troublesome weed, or how they harvested so many cucumbers. Whatever it is you learn, it often makes your time in the garden more enjoyable, and often more successful.
This year has been a bit of a struggle for gardens due to the weather. The rain and cool weather we had earlier on set many things off for a slow and waterlogged start. In my own garden my beans didn’t come up, likely because of how wet the area was.
I happened to have friends of my wife’s visiting from Korea while I was pondering this particular struggle and they shared a great technique for planting in low lying areas: rather than planting long rows of vegetables, create higher, shorter rows. In the case of my beans, they suggested mounding up the soil about four inches high, and only a few feet long, then leave a break in the soil, and continue another raised mound. This allows the extra water to run off, and away from the plants.
The earlier cool and wet weather also set in motion a somewhat troublesome summer for slugs and caterpillars. Slugs can do a lot of damage whether in the vegetable or flower beds. To rid your garden of them try slug bait which comes in granular form and can be sprinkled throughout the garden. Diatomaceous Earth can also be used. Caterpillers can be controlled using Biomist, a pyrethrin based insecticide.
We have also had many visitors to the Garden Centre wondering what the red bugs are all over their lilies. These lily bugs can do a great amount of damage in a short amount of time, and usually concentrate their efforts on the buds of your lily first. You can pick them off and dispose of them, or use an insecticide like Malathion to get rid of them.
Though the beginning of this season was wet, we have recently had a lot of sun and heat. It is particularly important during these times of high heat that not only your gardens, but your trees, shrubs, and lawns receive enough water.
A good guide for lawns is to apply a half inch of water once or twice a week, depending on the weather. If you are using a sprinkler make sure it covers all areas of your lawn, or that you are moving it frequently so all areas receive close to the same amount. Most lawns will need to be watered for approximately 15-20 minutes to receive a half inch of water.
Trees and shrubs can also be affected by long periods without enough water. Though these larger plants often have bigger root systems and go longer without a drink, it can place a lot of stress on them and lead to other problems. For large trees I recommend filling a 5 gallon pail with water and watering each tree slowly so it has time to absorb the water and not run off. This enables the roots to take in as much water as possible and continue to thrive until the next watering.
At the Garden Centre we often hear a lot of great tips and tricks from our customers. They love to share what works (and stories about what hasn’t), and we feel lucky to benefit from these shared experiences. What keeps gardening fun is that we never stop learning!