As heat sets in, time to water

Ray Baird

APPLYING LIQUID FERTILIZER TO SUMMER ROSES: Roses have been in bloom since early May and now the old blooms need to be deadheaded and then they need to be freshened up with some Miracle-Gro liquid fertilizer to give them a second opportunity to bloom. Water the roses once a week with the water wand if there is no rain in the forecast.

SETTING OUT A PACKET OF RUTGERS TOMATO SEEDS: Now that we have reached the middle of June, the first crop of tomatoes is well on their way to a harvest in mid-July. We can start a second crop of tomatoes that we can harvest in September if we start some tomatoes from seed this week. If you desire late tomatoes you have to start your own seed now because you cannot find tomato plants in hardware’s or garden departments in the month of July. Rutgers, Marglobe and Homestead tomatoes are tough and have been around for many generations. A packet costs about two dollars and has about thirty to forty seeds. Buy a bag (ten pounds) of seed starting medium and measure out a small flower container of the medium and mix with proper amount of water. Pour medium back into container, leaving out a handful to cover the seed. Sprinkle seed over the medium and cover with the handful of soil. Pat down with your hand and spray with water from a spray bottle. In less than two weeks, they will have two leaves and be ready to transplant to individual pots. Two weeks later they should be ready to transplant to the garden plot.

MAKING COMPOST FROM CROP RESIDUE, VINES, PEELINGS AND GRASS CLIPPINGS: Now that some vegetables have completed the harvest cycle, their vines and residue can be mixed with grass clippings to heat them up and begin the process of turning them into compost. The pile or bin will heat up quickly, so add several sprinkle cans of water to the compost to cool it off. Throw all peelings and hulls from the harvest into the compost bin also. Mix several ounces of fish emulsion to a sprinkling can of water and pour on the compost mixture to heat it up quickly.

A WATER WAND IS A GOOD INVESTMENT AT PLANTING TIME AND IN DRY SPELLS: A water wand can place water where it is needed and wanted because it has many settings from a mist, to a shower, to a stream or a spray or a sprinkle. A wand can pour a stream on seed to give them a good start when sowing them. In stream mode, you can fill sprinkling cans to mix with liquid fertilizer to apply to growing crops. The shower mode will allow you to apply the right amount of water on plants or at the base of the plants without wasting water. A good wand has many settings and a tough handle and they cost between ten and twelve dollars.

KEEP ON THE LOOKOUT FOR JAPANESE BEETLES: We hope this year will be a year like last year when we don’t see many of them. Keep a close eye on rose bushes and grapevines because they usually appear there first. When you see them, get ready to spray with Sevin or place the traps at a spot away from where the beetles are so you can draw them to the traps.

WATERING PORCH AND DECK ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS: Even though they may get some rain, their containers quickly get hot from the summer sunshine and dries them out. About twice a week, use a sprinkling can or water wand and water them until the water runs through the holes in the bottom of containers.

THERE ARE PLENTY OF CROWS IN THE PIEDMONT AREA: The black crows seem to be making a bold comeback and they are doing a lot of cawing. They appear to have nests behind the Food Lion on Rural Hall-Bethania Road and other nest in the Covington Park area and also near the Dairi-O. They fly around every day but we never see them on the ground. One of the good things about them is the chicken hawk population seems to have depleted with arrival of flocks of crows!

THE COLORS OF THE DESERT IN THE HEAT-LOVING ROSE MOSS: It is named portaluca, rose moss or desert rose. It comes in colors of white, yellow, orange, red, rose and pink and grows almost anywhere in the United States. They are amazing because they tolerate heat extremes and produce fresh new flowers every sunny day, but when it is cloudy or rainy, they seldom fully open. You can still plant a large container of rose moss and best of all, the plants you purchase now will be in bloom, so you will know all the colors you will be setting out.

KEEPING BLADES SHARP AS YOU MOW SUMMER GRASS: The grass of summer will be getting tougher and stay wetter a bit longer with the arrival of the morning dew or overnight showers. Don’t mow when grass is damp or wet because the grass will stick to the blade and pile up as it comes out of the mower’s chute. Wait until later in the day when the sun dries the lawn. Keep the blade sharp and the mower’s housing clear of clippings. If pollen is still on the grass, wear a nose mask and protective glasses. Oil the mower’s housing each month to prevent rust and spray throttle cables with WD40 spray.

KEEPING THE MORNING GLORY POPULATION UNDER CONTROL: Nothing grows faster than the pesky morning glory. One flower produces a whole pod of tiny seed which means one mature vine can produce enough seed to choke out a whole garden plot in one year. They are now growing fast and spreading. The most effective way to control them is the old-fashioned way of pulling them up by the roots and throwing them out of the garden plot. Never allow a morning glory to get to the bloom stage.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird

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