Deer Gardener: enjoy the sunshine

  • Jun. 1, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Nice. It’s just nice outside. What a blessing to pull a few weeds, trim back some rampant salmonberry bushes, gather cones and sticks to make a little fire in the yard. Oh, make sure the fire chief thinks that’s a good idea. I haven’t heard about fire bans yet, this year. Even the bugs are tolerable at our house.The vegetable garden should be in now, and sprouting as we speak. Protecting these seeds from too much sun is not the problem that protecting transplants from the greenhouse is. When plants sprout outside they are tougher in the bright sunshine. Avoid watering them until the evening and they will do well for you.My Calendula for transplanting from the greenhouse are having a trial with sun burnt the leaves. I keep moving them from shade to sun to strengthen them, but they are still not ready to plant out. I refuse to complain about the sun, however. It’s easy to move them back and forth, and the bulbs are not finished where they will be planted anyway.A grouping of six different pots of sedum on our solid wood fence is pleasing to the eye. These succulents can take all the sun that comes their way. Lloudmila’s Garden and Laughing Moon both have nice selections of sedum ready to go. Succulents will look good for you all year long. Mine go in the greenhouse for the winter, but they will survive outside if they are not waterlogged. Sometimes it’s hard to give them adequate drainage, when the skies keep raining and raining. Wind may break some shoots off, but this pruning only helps them to branch, so that works too.My coleus seedlings are very tiny still. I hope they are worth the effort, since I know coleus grow from cuttings easily, if you have a source of cuttings. The brilliant leaf colors are beginning to show now so that’s exciting. I envision coleus interplanted with dusty miller growing over my bulbs as they die down.The end of June is soon enough to deal with the dying bulb leaves, but it’s hard to wait that long, they do look scruffy. Right now is the time to leaf feed your bulbs in preparation for next year’s blooms. Be sure to deadhead the bulb flowers, they weaken the bulb if allowed to set seed. Before planting annuals amongst the bulbs I like to lightly rake in some basic bulb fertilizer, then mulch over top of the dead bulb leaves and plant in the mulch. This takes a lot of mulch, so gather a good supply of it before you begin. Seaweed is best, leaves mixed with grass clippings are next. The leaves keep the clippings from matting up into an icky mess when they get wet, plus they add valuable nutrients to the soil and keep the slugs busy.In the potato patch, hill the sprouts or mulch them to make long stems for the new potatoes to grow from. If the potatoes are wilting, water them, otherwise I recommend you let them be. The roots will go deep in search of moisture and the plants will be stronger. This applies to most vegetables, except the cabbage family. If brassica are wilting, they may have root maggots or club root. These are caused by cabbage loopers and nematodes. Plants rarely recover from these miseries. There are poisons you can use, but I do not recommend them. Seaweed mulch right from the start is the best prevention, and not fool proof at that!I welcome your solutions to garden problems. Talk to me at deergardener@hgqci.org.

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