Mid-Atlantic

June, 2011
Regional Report

Generously Water Water-Absorbing Crystals

I use water-holding crystals in containers and when planting annuals in the garden. Yes, there are differences of opinion and science about their benefits. That aside, they do require extra watering to plump up -- especially if the soil's dry. I water generously three times. First to soak the container till water runs off. Then to soak soil so water penetrates to the roots. Third time to fill the water-absorbing crystals till next time.

Ease Into Gardening on Hot Days

After months of chill and rain, our weather's now hot and sunny like July. There wasn't much cool-to-warm transition to acclimate to extended gardening time. When doing something we love, it's easy to get into the "zone" and forget about time. Until accustomed to the high temperatures, set an alarm as reminder to chill out in the shade with a cool drink before the sun takes its toll.

Keep Long-handled Tools Upright

Another safe gardening tip. Prop long-handled tools -- hoes, cultivators, rakes, shovels -- upright between uses. Lean them against a post, fence, house, tree, or hefty shrub. Tripping over them while gardening is annoying at the least. At the worst, a false step onto a hoe blade or three-pronged cultivator could cause injury.

Care for Primroses

Though they've stopped blooming for spring, primroses are perennials that might well reflower in autumn. Clip off the dead blooms and brown leaves. Water and fertilize the plants for good measure. Mulch around them. Check in September for a colorful surprise.

Weed Before Mulching

I must say I thought weeding before mulching is common sense. Not necessarily so. Recently I've noticed several gardens where mulch was tossed on top of weeds. Yes, mulch can hide full-grown weeds but it doesn't smother them. If this is the work of a landscaping company, it's not acceptable. Talk to the business owner about this sloppy work. Be clear that you have high standards and you expect the same.

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