AROUND THE GARDEN: You Can Whistle While You Weed

June was a joyous month for the garden. And now that the long July 4th weekend is over and you are fully rested and full of patriotic vigor, it is time to march back to work.

Published July 22, 2014 12:33 PM
3 min read

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garden-thJune was a joyous month for the garden. And now that the long July 4th weekend is over and you are fully rested and full of patriotic vigor, it is time to march back to work.

 

By Chris Cohan

garden-1June was a joyous month for the garden. And now that the long July 4th weekend is over and you are fully rested and full of patriotic vigor, it is time to march back to work.

 

Believe it or not it’s time to prepare for next year. Prune the azaleas to shape. Cut all bulb flowers you may have missed and their floppy leaves by half. Kousa and American dogwoods can get leggy. Take a pole saw and clip the tender new growth back to maintain a full and bushy shape; same for crabapple, cherry, and redbud trees. Oh, and especially those aggressive purple-leaf plums.

 

Shear all spent spirea flowers back to six inches to stimulate a second bloom. Train morning glory vines, cut dead butterfly bush flowers, and dead head all daylilies, especially Stella d’Oro, to promote more flowers. Clip bee balm, sage, coreopsis, catmint, heuchera and other perennials to keep them flowering.

 

>Ants Away

Spray ant routes with apple cider and vinegar to cover their invisible pheromone tracks, so they can’t find their way back to their foraging sites. I never kill ants, but whenever I see an ant path leading into the house, I fill a saltshaker with white sugar and sprinkle it in an enticing trail AWAY from the house.

 

>Slug Fest

Slugs and snails are responsible for wiping out many a gardener’s dream. Try some of these successful baits and traps to keep them from your plants. Lay empty flowerpot or milk cartons on their sides in shade. Dispose of slugs and snails every morning. Sink shallow tubs or saucers into the ground and fill them with beer. Some people have had luck mixing molasses and a sprinkling of yeast. Slugs dive into it and that’s the end of their story. Empty as needed. Old coffee grounds sprinkled as a circle around plants are also a decent deterrent.

 

>Cornucopia

Overflow Peas are done, so rip out the vines and mix into the mulch pile, as they’re very high in nitrogen. Plant another row of bush beans. Pinch basil to encourage multistems and a profusion of leaves for pesto. Weed base of tomatoes, rebuild mounds to retain water, clip, and remove any yellowing leaves. Good luck trying to keep vines within hoops. Add an adjacent hoop to handle the wayward fruit heavy branches.

 

I have an unwelcome freeloader in my vegetable patch — a woodchuck. He has obliterated my rows of kale, whittled down my handsome eggplants, and leveled my Swiss chard. I tried a Have-A-Heart trap. So far I’ve caught everything but him. I may put a bounty on his head. Right now I say name your price: just bag the beggar.

 

>Must Do Now

Pinch back your Montauk daisies; otherwise in late September all you will have is a topheavy, flopping, overgrown, late-blooming annoyance.

 

>Best Therapy

Here is a remedy that works, regardless of your mental anguish — weeding. No matter how impressed you are with yourself nothing beats weeding for its positive effect on a garden and your mental state. Get over yourself and get down on your knees. Become one with the world of unwanted plant life.

 

Focus. Pull, pull, pull. Wear yourself out. Repeat. You can’t stop until you get that one last weed. It becomes a satisfying addiction. Your brain is filled with a positive goal. You stick with it and complete the job. It calls you back. You keep at it. Mounds of green debris are your merit badges.

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