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Published June 29, 2015, 07:06 AM

Growing Together: June yard and garden do's and don'ts

FARGO -- Lawn grass has grown so speedily from plentiful May and June moisture, it's easy to become a redneck gardener. What's a redneck gardener? It's a homeowner who needs to mow his lawn to find where he left his wheelbarrow. Besides mowing, June is a busy month around the yard and garden. Let's discuss timely do's and don'ts.

By: Don Kinzler, Forum News Service

FARGO -- Lawn grass has grown so speedily from plentiful May and June moisture, it's easy to become a redneck gardener. What's a redneck gardener? It's a homeowner who needs to mow his lawn to find where he left his wheelbarrow.

Besides mowing, June is a busy month around the yard and garden. Let's discuss timely do's and don'ts.

Do's

- If your mower was set low for spring, raise the mowing height now. Three inches is the ideal height for best turf growth. Moisture is conserved, weeds are suppressed, and grass roots stay cool and healthy.

- As tomato plants grow, monitor for leaf spots and blights. Garden disease preventive fungicides are best applied while foliage is healthy before disease symptoms occur. Once leaves are damaged and blighted, those leaves stay damaged. Avoid wetting foliage while watering to avoid splashing disease organisms from soil onto leaves.

- Tomato blossom end rot, which causes sunken, brown/black lesions on fruit bottoms, can be reduced by keeping moisture uniform. It's caused by calcium uptake problems created when soil moisture fluctuates. Avoid damaging roots when cultivating. Mulching plants helps. First fruits are commonly affected, then plants usually work themselves out of the problem.

- "Deadhead" perennials and annuals by removing spent, withered flowers before they produce seed pods. Plants look better, and energy isn't wasted on seed production.

- Remove withered lilac blooms if within reach. Research has shown it doesn't affect future lilac bloom, but it neatens the shrubs.

-Plant fall-blooming mums already as an addition to the perennial garden. They're often featured in garden centers in the fall as blooming potted plants. But to overwinter successfully as perennials, they require a full growing season to produce roots and establish themselves. Fall planting of mums often results in winter death.

- If you haven't done so already, thin carrots, beets and radishes to at least 1 inch between plants so they'll have room to develop.

- Watch for insect damage to vegetable leaves, especially radish, potato, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Sevin dust or spray and Garden Guard dust are several favorite all-purpose insecticides. Apply to stems at the base of squash vines by late June to kill squash vine borers before they enter stems, causing wilting and death.

- Remove blossoms from geraniums as they wither by snapping flower plus its stalk cleanly away from the main stem.

- It's better to treat rose foliage with disease and insect control sprays early to prevent problems. Once leaves are damaged or half-eaten, they stay damaged.

- After rain, cultivate garden soil shallowly to break the crust. This provides weed control and creates a "dust mulch" that conserves moisture by preventing surface cracks. Use a hoe, small tiller or four-tined, long-handled cultivator.

- Prune away sucker shoots that commonly form at the base of lindens, basswood, tree lilacs, Canada red cherry and fruit trees.

Don'ts

- Don't nick and scar tree trunks with string trimmers and lawn mowers. Even a few dents in the bark from each mowing/trimming session cause cumulative tree damage resulting in depressed growth and increased susceptibility to insects, disease and winter dieback.

- Don't leave tree wraps in place during summer, especially if they're hugging the bark tightly. If left in place continually, wraps can cause indentations as the trunk tries to expand. This chokehold can lead to suppressed growth and susceptibility to winter injury and attacks by pests.

-Don't allow lawn weed spray to drift onto trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens. Herbicide spray drift can cause problems to your yard and your neighbors.

- Don't apply the common lawn weed killer dicamba, which is present in Trimec and other herbicide brands, over the root zone of trees and shrubs. This is a little-publicized dangerous fact about a commonly used product. The University of Minnesota indicates dicamba is potentially dangerous to trees and shrubs because it can move in soil and be taken up by roots, especially where mulches are used and in heavy compacted soil. Shallow feeder roots easily absorb the material resulting in injury or death.

-Don't move established perennials when they're flowering, which is their most vulnerable point. If a perennial needs dividing or moving, choose the season farthest from bloom time. For example, peonies blooming in early summer should be dug and divided in September.

- Don't water in the evening, if possible. If foliage remains wet all night, diseases like tomato blight and powdery mildew can explode. If you have no other choice, water only the soil, keeping foliage dry. Soaker hoses help greatly.

One note about landscape re-do's. If you pull out all your foundation shrubs with a pickup truck and tow-rope so you can plant collards instead, you're a redneck gardener, as mentioned earlier.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Tune in to his weekly radio segment from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays on WDAY Radio 970. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com.

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