Removing faded flowers from perennials makes the garden look prettier, plus, for some plants, it will encourage re-blooming. For other perennials, cutting the entire plant back works even better, giving a period of flowering in the fall. One of the best resources for advice on how and when to prune perennials is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques (Timber Press, expanded edition 2006, $34.95) by Tracy DiSabato-Aust. The book details the essential practices of perennial care, such as deadheading, pinching, and cutting back.
Clever Gardening Technique
Quick Refrigerator Pickles
It"s difficult to have your cucumber plants produce just a few cukes. One easy way to use them is to make refrigerator pickles. Not only does this use some of the bounty of the garden, but it also provides a ready-to-serve side dish to meals. When it's particularly hot and you don't want to cook, they make a great addition to a meal of cheese, bread, and hard-boiled eggs. To make, combine 8 ounces of sliced cucumbers and one-half cup of thinly sliced onions in a bowl, then pack into a pint jar. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup cider or white wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, one-half tablespoon salt, one-half teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds, and one-eighth teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground turmeric, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the heated mixture over the cucumbers and onions, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.