By Brent Gray
Rains are continuing and disease pressure is getting worse. There are several things you can do to slow down the spread of many of the disease organisms. Try to only enter the garden when the leaves are dry. You help spread microorganisms by pushing the leaves together as you walk through and by picking up the spores on your hands and clothing as you work. Remove leaves that show symptoms, or whole plants if the disease is very widespread, and destroy them. Work on the plants that do not display symptoms first and save the diseased plants for last.
This is the week to plant pumpkins for Halloween. Make sure the area drains well. Remember the plants can be enormous and require very fertile soil and plenty of water.
Tomatoes are very slow to ripen now. The lack of sunlight reduces the amount of sugar the leaves can produce. Sugar is the energy source for all the processes that go into ripening tomato fruit. Patience and more sunshine are the keys to ripe tomatoes. The good thing about cloud cover is lower temperatures. Tomatoes and bell peppers are still creating new fruit since the temperatures have remained below 95 degrees.
Perennial Gardening Tips
In garden borders or in mass plantings, perennials can provide anything from a riot of brilliant color to a subdued range of delicate hues. For example, a bed of torch lily (Kniphofia) or a bed of ‘Coronation Gold’ yarrow (Achillea) will knock your socks off! In contrast a bed of whirling butterflies (Gaura) or ‘Snowbank’ boltonia will appear airy and delicate.
The secret to using and enjoying perennials is to put them in clumps of at least 3 or 5 in combination with other perennials that combine well in color, texture or form. For example, combine the ‘Moonshine’ achillea with the catmint ‘Walker’s Low.’ The rounded, flat blooms of the achillea will be a nice contrast with the spiky bloom stalks of the catmint. The warm color of the yellow-blooming achillea combines well with the cool color of blue for the catmint.
Combination is key since most perennials stay in bloom for about three to six weeks. So, try to select plants with staggered bloom times for a bed full of color throughout the season.
Remember that warm colors like red and yellow make a flowerbed seem larger and closer, while cool colors like blue, lavender and purple make it appear smaller and more distant. Pinks combine well with purple and red with violet. White is a good complement for any color.
At planting time incorporate organic matter and remember to space plants properly, as crowded plants grow less vigorously. Fertilize your perennials lightly at planting time with an all-purpose flower fertilizer to get them off to a good start.