Thursday, June 19, 2008

June Gardening Notes

In early June, Virginia’s temperatures soared to record high 100s. These high temps usually don’t arrive till August. I was in northern California during this time where we also experience record breaking high temperatures. Do these record breaking high temps represent global warming? The summer solstice, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is directly overhead at noon, arrives June 21st.

The occasional cool mornings are perfect for continuing garden preparation. Container grown shrubs can still be planted, but water frequently. Scatter seeds of forget-me-nots in damp shady places. Perennials can still be planted, but for several days must be watered and protected form the hot sun. For autumn blooms, plant dahlias, mums, and salvias. If we have less than one inch of rain in a week; water your plants.

Irises and daffodils were lovely thanks to a cool and wet spring. Bearded irises can be divided anytime from now until September. If large clumps of daffodils did not produce many blooms; they probably need to be divided.

Roses are considered the flower of love and continue to inspire poets and artists. The flower has many herbal and aromatherapy uses. Every summer I use rose hips from wild roses to make a tea high in vitamin C.

While I was in California I stayed in a friend’s house in Mill Valley. I’m in love with both her dog and her roses. Next spring I plan on starting a rose garden. For cane roses cut the rose blossoms just above a 5 leaflet to assure a strong stem for the next bloom. Plant garlic and rue near your roses to deter Japanese beetles. Geranium, alyssum, nasturtiums, rosemary and thyme attract beneficial insects. For mildew spray potassium bicarbonate fungicides in humid climates – like Virginia. Continue to fertilize until 6 weeks before the first expected frost.

Rhododendrons should be dead headed by hand about two weeks after the blooms have faded. Now is a good time to take softwood cuttings of shrubs such as azalea, boxwood, and spirea for propagation into new plants.

Determine the texture and sweetness of vegetables by the time of day you harvest. Pick peas and corn late in the day for maximum sweetness. Lettuce, and other leafy veggies and cucumbers are crisper if picked early morning. Pick strawberries in early morn. Do not wash or stem the berries until ready to use and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. If harvesting herbs for essential oils; pick just before flowering on a sunny day.

Do you have cats visiting your vegetable garden? While in northern California I helped in a community veggie garden by sticking many small branches in the soil and mulching with coconut hulls in order to prevent the cats from wanting to use the area as a “cat box”.