Mid-Atlantic

July, 2010
Regional Report

Water Trees First

Though they may look strong enough to take care of themselves, trees need extra water during dry spells. They transpire, pulling water from the soil into their roots up to their leaves. That takes a lot of their energy and a lot of water (hundreds of gallons/day). Trees are a huge, important investment in your property as well as the future. Give them first priority when watering your landscape. During hot, dry weather, place a hose on the soil in the root area twice weekly. Adjust water to a medium-flow drip. Move the hose every 15 minutes or so till the soil under the tree canopy is saturated. Listen closely; you may hear your tree sighing with relief and saying "Thank You."

Deal With The Slugs

Despite the dry weather, slugs still find their way to my basil. How do I know? They munch holes in the leaves at night, leaving a shiny trail of slime as morning evidence. Slugs also enjoy lettuce and spinach and leafy greens in general. Remedies vary. I'm considering edging containers with attractive, narrow copper flashing that discourages slugs by shocking them. Diatomaceous earth sprinkled on top of the soil kills slugs. There are various commercial slug baits; some less toxic than others.

Cut and Enjoy Your Cutting Garden Flowers

Don't be shy about snipping your zinnias, cosmos, snapdragons, Mexican sunflowers, purple coneflower, globe thistle, black-eyed Susans, and border phlox for bouquets. The more long-stemmed flowers you clip off, the more new flowers the plant will produce. Make the pruning cut just above a node, where a leaf emerges from the stem. That leaves behind potential buds at that node and lower on the stem.

Limit Any Pesticide Use During Hot Weather

Plants are struggling just to survive during these hot days. Applying pest control products of any type - be it non-toxic horticultural oil or toxics- will stress them even more. If perennials and shrubs are seriously infested, spray and respray leaves, top and bottom, with strong streams of water to dislodge as many pests as possible. Water plants well at the roots to help them help themselves stay healthy. Wait till cooler weather to spray or treat with anything otherwise.

Water After Weeding

Pulling out weeds under and near wanted plants such as veggies, annuals, perennials, shrubs can disturb the soil around the wanted plants. That may well leave their roots more exposed to summer heat. Keeping in mind your mission is to move soil back to cover roots, water weeded beds gently and deeply to reinvigorate your preferred remaining plants.

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