I’m a new gardener and am asking if there is anything I should be doing for my lawn right now?” -Make sure you mow on a regular basis, never removing more than 1/3 of the blade each time you mow. Throw those clippings back into the turf. Mow higher rather than lower – 2 ½ inches to 3 ½ inches high. Change directions each time you mow. If you see a few weeds here and there, keep a bottle of Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra on hand to spot treat the weeds as needed. And now is an excellent time to feed the lawn before going into the winter. Fertilome’s Lawn Fertilizer works great; or if you want to stay more natural with the fertilizer, consider using Milorganite. (I suggest you stay away from the ‘weed and feeds’. Feed when needed and spot treat the weeds as needed.)
“I heard you talking about a new basil. What was the name again?” – ‘Red Freddy’! It’s a Genovese-like basil with great flavor, great maroon colored leaves, tough grower, better leaf producer than many of the purple basils, and supposed to flower later so less deadheading and more great basil leaves – with that great maroon / purple foliage!
“Do you have tomatoes and peppers left? We still need to plant our garden!” -Absolutely! Granted the selection of varieties has been reduced, but we still cover many different types, still a good quantity and they look great! As a matter of fact, we still bring in a few varieties and just got in more ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes!
“Did we hear you mention growing cotton and tobacco in your garden? Do you harvest and use it? Or why would you grow it?” -I did, and these are just for the fun and ornamental value of the plants. Cotton is a cool looking plant that most folks don’t recognize, with hibiscus like flowers in the summer, which turn into the cotton balls later in the year! Tobacco is the plain old Kentucky Burley, which again, has great leaves, obviously a very large annual plant, and the flowers are spectacular later in the summer. Growing a plant or two brings back good memories of when my grandfather has his ‘backer base’ in Kentucky. I can hear him laughing, if he knew folks grew it for fun as an ornamental annual. And you can add peanuts to the list as well. All fun plants, that aren’t thought of as your normal annuals to grow each summer. Just another way to have some fun in the garden. (Ps…we still have cotton and tobacco plants if you’d like to see what they do.)
“We had a real problem with Blossom End Rot on our tomatoes last year. What do you suggest we do to help prevent that this year?” Many factors can cause this on tomatoes (peppers and melons as well), from lack of roots, to cold weather, to soil conditions, etc. But the main factor would be lack of calcium in the fruit. So, make sure you add calcium to the soil when planting, or add it afterwards if you didn’t at first, and keep even moisture around the plants so the calcium can be moved into the plant and into the fruit. Lack of calcium and uneven watering are a sure bet for Blossom End Rot.
“Our crabapples send up little shoots around the base of the trees every year. I cut them off, but they just come back up. Any tricks on stopping them?” -Yes! Cut them off, and then treat those cuts with ‘Sucker Punch’. It’s a growth inhibitor that helps keep suckers from growing for almost the entire season. It’s a little expensive, but well worth it for the time it saves you every year.
“I planted a new rose bush about 4 weeks ago and now it’s starting to look like it’s going to die. I used Plant Starter and have been watering every day, but it is not looking too good. Please tell me what to do to save my new rose.” -Stop watering it! When planting new plants, soak them well after planting, again the next day, and then once every 5-7-10 days, depending on the soil, root ball size, and weather. Check the soil before watering to make sure where it is at that ‘time to be watered’ stage. For the most part, water thoroughly, let the soil dry or get close to drying out, and then water again. But every day does not work!
“When can I divide my daylilies?” -Tough cookies those daylilies! They can be divided in the spring, in the fall, or after they’re finished flowering. By the way, if you want to keep those re-bloomers re-blooming this summer, be sure to deadhead spent flowers and eventually the entire flower stalk, and feed after each flush of flowers.