June 2013 To-Do List: Upper South

Susan Wells

rose arborIf you don’t have a lot of space to garden, think about going vertical. There are a number of advantages to this. In the back of a border, running a clematis or two or three along a fence serves the function that tall perennials or annuals would without taking up as much space on the ground. Plus they hide the fence. In the vegetable garden, vertically grown crops, such as pole beans or cucumbers, can shade more tender crops on the north side of the trellis. Trellises can be plain or fancy. Thomas Jefferson used to save the long straight water sprouts pruned from his apple trees to make teepees for his beans and squash. Just use your imagination.

Annuals

•    Caring for annuals is one of the easiest jobs in the garden. Keep them watered and dead headed, and they will perform for you all summer.

•    Plant old favorites like zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds all over the vegetable garden to attract pollinators.

•    Mulch annuals and perennials well to keep weeds at bay and conserve moisture.

Perennials

•    Plant the dahlia tubers you’ve saved over the winter. Discard any that have broken necks. Plant four inches deep.

•    If your irises didn’t bloom well this year, they may be too crowded. You can divide them now or later in the summer.

•    Have you started growing some native perennials like penstemon or rudbeckia? Give them a try in a sunny bed with lots of compost. Water well for the first few weeks. By the time they are established, they require very little care.

Vegetables

•    Harvest rhubarb when the stalks are about 12 inches long, leaving at least a third of the plant to make more stalks. As the new stalks become thinner, stop harvesting until next year.

•    Harvest garlic when its outer leaves yellow.

•    Beans of all sorts do best sown directly into warm soil. Bush beans will give you an all-at-once crop, if you are interested in preserving some for the winter. Pole beans will produce for a longer period.

•    Plant corn in succession, a few rows every two or three weeks, to keep the harvest going all summer. Pay attention to the “days to maturity” listed on the back of the seed packet, and stop planting when there isn’t enough time to reach maturity before frost. Do the same thing with bush beans.

•    Cage up your tomatoes to keep fruit off the ground. Pinch off lower leafy branches to keep foliage from touching the soil, which is where most tomato diseases reside.

•    Mulch, mulch, mulch. Weed, weed, weed.  Mulch conserves water and keeps weeds at bay. The more you mulch, the less weeding you have to do.

•    Keep vegetables watered at a rate of about an inch of water per week if rain does not provide. Overwatering is not helpful.

    Feed most vegetables as they begin to set fruit.

Trees/Shrubs

•    Finish pruning spring flowering shrubs that need it by the end of the month or skip it for the year. Flower buds for next year’s bloom will begin to set in July.

•    Container grown trees and shrubs can be planted any time of the year, but when planted in summer, they have to be watered regularly or the roots won’t get established and they will die.

•    Don’t prune conifers in the summer as the sap will attract pine borer beetles.

•    Mulch young trees and shrubs well to help them through the stress of hot weather.

Lawns

•    Mow often, never cutting more than a third of the grass’ length at any one time.

•    A lawn that is watered and fertilized frequently will have to be mowed much more often. Only give the lawn the care it NEEDS. Don’t water unless it looks stressed.

•    Leave grass clippings where they fall to nourish the soil, and you won’t have to fertilize as much.

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