Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association


June, 2010
Regional Report

Frequently Reapply Natural Bug Repellents on Skin

Some botanical insect repellents work better on the skin than other brands. To be effective, all natural repellents need to be applied more frequently than heavy-hitting DEET-based and manufactured chemical products. Be patient learning which botanical combos work for you. Keep the bottle or tube nearby to respray or reapply easily and conveniently. Start by reapplying every 10 minutes or so. Watch to see how long mosquitoes stay away. Some botanical mixes repel for 20 minutes; others 5 minutes. Reapply as often as needed, enjoying their fresh fragrance and knowing they're safe to use.

Water More Frequently Than You Anticipate

What are your area's temperature highs? In the Philadelphia area, the mercury is hitting the 90s in the sun - July weather in early June! Windowbox, hayrack, and container plantings are drying out much more quickly than we're used to in early summer. Keep a close eye and water deeply and long. When you're feeling the heat, your plants are likely hot and dry too.

Use TLC on New Transplants

Imagine being lifted up by your hair, carried and tapped or shaken till your shoes and socks fall off, then plunked down in a hole miles from home. Disorienting, YES? Though a bit of exaggeration, it's my sense of what occurs when a seedling or young plant moves from a protected, coddled nursery life to the garden center into our gardens. To help them adjust, treat them gently and water well and frequently till you see new growth. Irrigating until water puddles at the plant's base helps push loose soil around tender roots. Then roots are protected and can access soil nutrients AND the water needed to absorb and transfer food through the plant.

Shear Spring-Blooming Dianthus

Cheddar Pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) spill over walls, cascade down slopes, and fill garden edges. This semi-evergreen perennial is an exuberant mound of thin, blue-silver leaves and fragrant pink flowers. Several cheddar pink cultivars - 'Firewitch', 'Bath's Pink', 'Tiny Rubies'- will rebloom in summer and fall, though with fewer flowers, if spring's dead flowers are removed.

Big Efforts Now Save Mid-Summer Time and Energy

However you do it, weed and mulch ornamental garden beds NOW - for a more relaxed, enjoyable summer. Enlist friends, hire help, bribe the kids, call your local agricultural, science or voc-tech school. Many hands make light work. Whatever it takes, get upbeat help for a spell of intense garden cleanup and mulching. After this big June push, the garden will be in great shape. Extra benefits - you'll likely find small spurts of weeding and tidying will get you through July and August heat. You won't need to water as often either.


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