Mid-Atlantic

July, 2011
Regional Report

Don't Plant Perennials, Shrubs, Trees In Extreme Heat

Hot summer sun and heat are stressful for us and the plants. Resist planting ornamentals in 90-degree weather, especially in sunny and dry locations. Wait till temperatures drop in mid- to late August. Early into late autumn is excellent planting time.

Water Deeply and Generously

Watering plants well is a bit of art and science. Not simply splash and run. Watch where the water goes. If the soil's hard or the mulch crusty, a very slow trickle of water will "prime" the area so water doesn't run off. Water lightly and slowly till you see it being absorbed into the soil. Then water generously for several minutes, stop. Resume watering until soil is saturated and plant roots are wet. It's okay to check moisture depth with your finger.

Succession Plant Vegetables

The first crops of beets, spinach, and cukes are likely harvest-ready or nearly so. After you pick, sow new seeds for a flush of fresh produce in five, six, seven weeks. Same with green, yellow, and pole beans as they mature.

Worm Farmers, Use Castings

My red wigglers are working overtime in the summer heat, as are yours. They're easily eating half their weight in veggie and fruit discards -- onion skins, old shredded cabbage and carrots, mint stems, apple cores. Which means lots of worm poop -- aka castings -- that is nutritious fertilizer. Separating worms from castings is necessary yet messy. I'm experimenting with different techniques. Then I put castings in water and pour the castings tea around beets, onions, and cucumbers.

Clip Off Dead Coreopsis Flowers

Deadheading coreopsis can be done stem by stem for some cultivars or shearing the strong, prolific plants. Robust threadleaf 'Moonbeam' and 'Zagreb' take well to en masse shearing of an inch or two; they'll rebloom. 'Creme Brulee', though, is an example of a more delicate cultivar with fewer stems that is best dead-headed individually by cutting off the dead flower and stem above a bud.

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