Finally the weather has warmed. For those of us that love the heat it's a welcome change. I am much like a lizard attempting to warm up on a rock in spring, seeking out light and the warmer spaces in the garden. Many of your plants are celebrating the warmth as well.
The snow, bitter winds and frozen nights of early May has delayed most plants in the landscape by 20-30 days, but things are taking off now. If some of your plants are waking late let me give you a few tips I incorporated into my own landscape this week. Mimosa, chitalpa, crape myrtle and a host of other heat lovers wait out the spring season until the evening temperatures stay above the 50 degree mark. The last two week's have been a delight for these late leafers. My bird-of-paradise are just now forming their summer foliage without a hint of flower clusters that will follow in July and August. They just did not like this years spring weather.
Give these summer lovers a boost. This would go for any plants you want more growth out of this year as well. For me these are the purple robe locust that shade my entertainment patios, or the weeping birch that shade the hot side of my home. All are pushing tremendous growth now and can be encouraged to push even more. Just this week I used my 20-20-20 'All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food' on each plant, and gave them a good dose of 'Soil Activator'. Because this nitrogen rich food comes in a liquid form your plants can pick it up immediately and turn it into more foliage, flowers and size.
'Soil Activator' is like chocolate Bonn-Bons for plants that stimulates deeper root growth and unbelievable color from the flowers and leaves.
But Ken, I have already fertilized with the food you recommended earlier. I know, and I did as well, but granular foods are for the long haul and better overall plant health. Liquid 20-20-20 plant food is like an energy sports drink to plants that give them a kick start into their seasonal growth.
Even I lost my first two plantings of basil this spring. I love fresh pesto so this week I put two new plants in the garden for summer harvest, and you can too.
It's not too late to have the freshest vegetables in the neighborhood. Bigger is going to be better as we reach summer temperatures. The latest vegetable plants coming into the garden center are three feet tall and loaded with huge tomatoes. I guarantee you will be picking fruits before those of us that planted in the colder parts of spring. Eggplant, tomatoes, peppers of all sorts, and herbs finally have some size on them for immediate harvest.
My personal tomatoes have some size, with lots of flowers, but difficulty setting the fruit. A classic symptom after a cool spring. 'Tomato & Blossom Set Spray' forces these first flowers to set fruit. It should also slow the growth of new foliage and shift the plants attention onto producing more fruits. Spritz each golden blossom with this liquid pollinator and tomatoes are soon to follow. Again, as the name implies it also works great on the peppers in the garden.
Drip irrigation is very attractive to your plants, saves personal time from behind a green garden hose, greatly reduces water use and money, but others are attracted to your drip system for many of the same reasons. Gophers love to nibble for the water, rabbits and pack rats bite off emitters for water, snails and earwigs lay eggs that clog emitters and a host of other issues can cause a system to fail. As we start to hit the 90 degree mark any flaw in your system will show.
It's time for a tune-up. The next time you have a cool mountain morning to meander in the yard, I encourage a double take of your system. Manually run the system for two full cycles. This will rehydrate the plants, but more importantly the wet spots formed by the additional irrigation will be easier to spot, modify, and maintain. If no noticeable water has run under a plant, you have clogged emitters. Trees very likely need an additional emitter placed at its base. Cut the old emitter off and put a ¼ inch tee in its place, that allow for two emitters to be run instead of one.
My lawn was looking starved and parched this week as well. I put a good hardy dose of the 'Soil Activator' on my green patch to encourage deeper root formation, followed by an application of 'Liquid Aqueduct'. This amazing new water additive works wonders on dry, stressed plants. Applied through the attached hose end sprayer it forces the water to penetrate hard compacted soil. It keeps water at root level so grass can get to it. Because it keeps the water in the soil band where the roots actively grow it greatly reduces the need for additional water in the heat of summer I encourage you to visit me at the garden center for personalized help with water issues.
This Saturday begins my Summer garden class series that run each week starting at 9:30. Consider this a personal invitation to learn more about mountain gardening. This weeks class is titled 'Reducing Water Use in the Yard', June 19 - 'Maximize the Vegetable Harvest', June 25 - 'Gardening for Newcomers'. Classes are free to my garden column readers. Please join Me.
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.