Time to do the same things as last year, only later

With this late spring and everything emerging so late, we are thinking that it might be a good idea to hold off spraying Sevin on apple trees until the middle of July instead of starting the first of July. It also would be okay to continue harvesting rhubarb for the first two weeks in July for the same reason. Spring is the ideal time to fertilize rhubarb.

In spite of a good snow cover this last winter, there has been considerable loss of perennials this year. Sue realizes she didn’t water well enough during the drought last summer/fall and is attributing her losses to that. However, some things that she thought were goners finally emerged after waiting six weeks.


Now is an ideal time to mulch your garden to preserve moisture and keep the weeds down. If you have limited time and energy for this task, tomatoes should be your first priority. Use whatever method has worked for you in the past. An inexpensive method is to lay down two layers of newspaper and put grass clippings over the top to prevent the newspaper from blowing around. Word of caution — if you have sprayed your lawn with chemicals, don’t use the clippings for several mowings. We have found that if there gets to be a gap where there isn’t any newspaper — just grass clippings — the weeds will come thru the clippings. Besides preserving moisture and preventing weeds, a good mulch prevents spores from splashing up on the tomato leaves from the ground. These spores are the cause of early and late blight of tomatoes.

At a recent Master Gardener radio show, Ella Roth reminded us that when we purchase plants from a nursery and bring them home we need to remember that they have been watered every single day of their lives at the nursery and we need to continue that routine for the first week or so and gradually wean the plant off getting that much moisture. LaVonne likes to “mud” in her transplants when transplanting and has very good luck with that method. It gives the roots a chance to get used to its new surroundings.

By now you should have pruned your lilacs for the year. Pruning mid or late summer eliminates much of the following year’s blooms because those buds actually begin to develop shortly after this year’s flowers fade.

After your tulips have turned completely yellow, you may remove them from the garden. They should easily pull up when tugged.

The Minnesota Gardening calendar reminds us that early maturing vegetables such as leaf lettuce, radish and spinach turn bitter and go to seed in July’s heat. Pull them up, add a little fertilizer and replant with broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower to harvest next fall.

Make a habit of deadheading (removing faded blossoms) whenever possible from flowering annuals and perennials to prevent infection by grey mold pathogen, Botrytis. This disease is favored in warm, humid weather typical of July and August. Flower infections can ultimately lead to death of the entire plant. Deadheading keeps plants looking better too and encourages them to keep blooming. When deadheading roses, cut back to a five-leaflet leaf and it will result in development of a larger, stronger new bud.

We would like to remind you that daylilies (hemerocallis) and Asiatic and Oriental lilies are not in the same family and should be treated differently once they have finished blooming. Asiatic/Oriental lilies should be deadheaded but leave as much of the stem as you can so it will continue to feed the bulbs for next year. Daylilies should have the stems cut off for two reasons. The plants will look more attractive and in the case of reblooming daylilies, you will get a second flush of bloom later in the year. Nothing very attractive about a bunch of brown stems sticking out of your flower bed.

Continue to fertilize your flowers, especially the pots and hanging baskets. Fertilize weekly weakly. Before you apply fertilizer, water well. By doing this you won’t burn the roots. Perennials shouldn’t be fertilized after Aug. 1st as they are already starting to slow down and prepare for (hate to say this) another winter. You can continue to fertilize annuals.

LaVonne Swart and Sue Morris, Master Gardeners