To-Do List: Carolina Coast

R. L. Rhodes
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By June, most of your heavy-duty gardening is done and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, literally. There are still a few gardening tasks you’ll need to stay on top of this summer to keep your lawn and garden healthy.

  • Identify and remove pests on trees. By June, tree pests can become a problem, particularly bagworms. The right time to treat bagworms is just as the larva (little caterpillars) begin feeding and making bags in the trees. Use the biological insecticide Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which you can find at The Home Depot, to control bagworms.
  • Prune perennials to control height and delay flowering. Stagger the blooms of your perennials and keep taller perennials from flopping over by pruning them early in the season. Perennials like salvia, taller varieties of sedum, swamp sunflower and penstemon all respond well to pruning. Cut the plants back by a third to keep them bushy and compact.
  • Fertilize vegetables and annual flowers. Annuals and vegetables use a lot of energy to put on a spectacular show and produce tasty food. Both types of plants require frequent feeding during the summer to keep them in peak performance condition. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every three weeks to encourage blooming.
  • Identify and remove squash vine borers. It’s heartbreaking to grow a huge pumpkin vine or your favorite pattypan squash, only to see it invaded by squash vine borers. If your vegetables are growing healthily and then suddenly wilt along the length of the vine, these pests are probably to blame. The best way to treat squash vine borers is to look along the stem for the pest’s point of entry, slit open the stem, remove the worm, and pinch the stem shut. Mound damp soil over the cut area to encourage new roots to form there. The new roots will help the plant continue to get nutrients, even if the flow of water and foot through the stem is disrupted.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs. Summer rain is hit or miss. If you planted new trees or shrubs this spring, make sure to give them extra water during dry periods. This does make a difference in whether the plant establishes good roots and makes it through its first season.
  • Harvest vegetables. Not only is this a fun and tasty activity, harvesting vegetables from the plant also has a purpose: it keeps the plants healthy and producing. Some “vegetables,” such as beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and peas, are really fruits (scientifically speaking). Plants produce fruits near the end of their life cycle. To keep the plant alive and growing, you have to remove the ripe fruits. (And eat them!)
  • Fertilize zoysia and bermudagrass lawns. These two types of lawn grasses are heavy feeders that benefit from a mid-season fertilization to stay healthy and green. To control lawn weeds, remember to always set your mower on the highest setting for your grass type.

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