Inland Northwest, High Desert
Save Some Thistle for the Butterflies
Painted lady butterfly larvae are looking for a nice, tasty thistle. It's a lot easier to live with the thistle you set aside for the caterpillars if you cut off the bloom or seedhead. All the caterpillars really want are the leaves. You're happy because the thistle can't re-seed, the painted ladies are happy to flit around your yard next spring.
Putting Soaker Hoses to Work
We use the old-fashioned, flat soaker hoses in the beds here at the Double Dober Rose Ranch. But sometimes they seem to skip a spot. The solution is a big safety pin. Turn on the hose and watch for dry spots. Poke the safety pin right into the tube every inch or so. Pretty soon you're figuring out how to aim the water over to that zinnia. This project is best performed on a hot, sunny day when you don't mind getting a little wet.
Roses are heavy feeders. They want a good meal at least once a month, so I pick a date I'm not likely to forget and fertilize them every month on that day. In addition to a good, balanced, commercial rose food, add a few handfuls of alfalfa pellets -- the same kind you feed rabbits only without molasses -- to each rose and scratch them into the mulch. Alfalfa pellets contain lots of tasty micronutrients that roses love.
Prolong the Blooming
Choose perennials that will bloom at different times and mix them up in the beds. That way you'll have something blooming all season. Sow perennial seeds directly into the garden during June, July, and August.
Keep After the Weeds
Our cool, wet spring helped weeds get a jump on us. To make sure they don't get the upper hand, pull, hoe, spray, or eliminate them before they set bloom. Once their flowers show up, it seems like a matter of minutes before they're producing seeds.