Keep Pest Controls Handy
By having a few basic organic pesticides on hand, as well as several small, clean sprayers, you'll be ready to fend off pests at the first sign of them before they get out of control. Neem, which comes from the seeds of a tropical tree, is useful for both diseases and insects. A pyrethrum-based insecticide will handle a wide range of insects. For cabbage, broccoli, and other cole crops, it pays to have Bacillus thuringiensis available. If your garden is small, get 1-quart to 1-gallon sprayers. If possible allocate a sprayer to each of the above materials, labeling the contents of each sprayer with a permanent marker.
Pay Attention to Houseplants and Container Plantings
Houseplants set outdoors for the summer and container plantings will quickly tell you if they need water, fertilizer, or trimming. At the height of summer, plants in pots outdoors need at least daily checking for moisture. The frequent watering quickly flushes out the nutrients, so follow a regular fertilizing schedule. This is also a good time to consider repotting houseplants. And keep checking for pests!
Herbs add beauty and fragrance to the garden as well as providing flavor and antioxidants to food. There's still time to plant fast-growing annual herbs, such as dill, cilantro, and basil. While you're planting, start some in pots to keep indoors this fall and winter. Try a variety of dill called 'Fernleaf', which is shorter growing and produces leaves over a long period. One of the best basils for pots is 'Cameo', with its dwarf growth and full-sized leaves. Herbs are a great addition to salads, whether a green one with mixed lettuces or a grain salad, such as tabbouleh.
Dry Hydrangea Flowers
Dried hydrangeas are wonderful to use in winter flower arrangements and craft projects. Use our native Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', as well as the various forms of H. paniculata, H. macrophylla, and H. quercifolia. Cut stems when the petals feel somewhere between papery and leathery. Remove the leaves and stand stems upright in an empty vase or jar. Place in a warm, airy place out of direct sunlight. If the flowers don't dry to the color you like, spray them with craft floral paint.
Daylilies can be dug up and transplanted or divided almost any time during the growing season, but the best time is immediately after flowering is finished. After digging up the entire plant, use two spading forks back-to-back to pull apart the clump, or use a sharp spade to cut the roots into sections with at three or four fans of leaves. Alternatively, if weeds have become entwined among the rootball or if you want the maximum number of plants, soak the rootball in water, then pull the clump apart into each individual fan. Trim the leaves back to 3 to 4 inches or so and replant. For maximum bloom, newer hybrids need dividing every three to five years and repeat-bloomers every two to three years.