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Hot tips to keep gardens growing in summer

Strawberries are typically harvested from mid-June to mid-July.  [Source: Pixabay]

For many, June symbolizes the beginning of summer. 

The reputation is well-earned, considering the month features the year’s longest amount of daylight hours per day in the Northern Hemisphere. 

For green-thumbed gardeners and busy botanists, these long days provide even more time to spend about the garden making sure that summer botanicals, crops and produce are in good shape for the long days of sunshine. However, after pruning the spring flush, some individuals can feel a little lost about what steps to take next to keep their garden flourishing. 

Entities like the Missouri Botanical Garden can provide professional advice on how to keep summer spaces thriving in times of warm temperatures and high humidity.

Plants and botanicals

June blooms include magnolias, roses, poppies, pitcher plants and more. Water lilies will also thrive this time of year, but only if water temperatures are over 70 degrees.

Organic mulches can be applied now as the soil begins to warm up from earlier in the season. The added moisture and nutrients from these mixtures can cause plants to sprout quickly, which could result in overcrowding without proper planning or spacing. Seedlings should be thinned to their ideal spacing requirements, which are usually stated on the back of the seed packet.

According to the Garden, bagworms are something gardeners across the United States should keep their eyes peeled for. These pests look like caterpillars but produce spindle-shaped cocoons. They also feed on over 128 plant species. They commonly attack plants like arborvitae, red cedar and juniper. They will also feed on maple, fir, ginkgo, juneberry, persimmon, spruce, pine, sycamore, poplar, oak, willow and more. Professionals can help eliminate the pests without damaging nearby plants.

Attention should be paid to how much sun each plant can withstand. For example, rhizomatous begonias with bronze foliage can thrive in full sunlight if the soil remains richly hydrated. However, for other varieties, consistent exposure to the sun without any shade can cause scorching. Japanese maple trees are common victims of overexposure.

Other flower varieties may be prone to diseases. Roses and other old-fashioned climbers, for example, can add lovely color and fragrance to a garden but should be treated with fungicide to prevent black spot disease.

Before jumping into a fresh batch of summer seedlings or flowering plants, the Garden reminds gardeners to finish pruning spring flowering trees and shrubs before the end of the month. Summer trees and shrubs also should be fertilized before July 4. 

Vegetables  

As summer crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants pop up, root vegetables like radishes, carrots and potatoes can go in the ground. Meanwhile, repeat plantings of corn and beans should be done now to extend the harvest season. Transplants for Brussels sprouts should be set out to help guarantee a fall harvest.

To minimize diseases, try watering crops with overhead irrigation early in the day so that foliage is dry by nightfall. This can help minimize the festering of diseases.

Now is also the time to start laying down seedlings for cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. These will provide perfect transplants for an autumnal garden. 

Stop harvesting asparagus as soon as the spears become thin. 

Fruits

Thinning overloaded fruit trees at this time can produce healthier fruits when it comes time to harvest. According to the Garden, the ideal distance for thinned fruits is about a hands-width apart.

Strawberries should be ready to harvest, and summer fruiting raspberries should be ripening this month.

During this time of year, apple maggot flies may lay eggs in fruit. The result is that the apple becomes infected, pitted and visibly misshapen. According to the Garden, red painted balls coated with tanglefoot can be hung in trees to trap females from laying their eggs. The trunks of peach trees and other stone fruits should be sprayed for defense against peach tree borers.

When it comes to training young fruit trees in developing orchards, eliminate poorly positioned branches by establishing proper crotch angles. This angle is defined as the distance between the base of the branch and the trunk. With careful positioning, these wide angles can improve branch stability against the weight of fruit and the elements.

Tools and supplies

After long days of working outdoors, tools and equipment should also be routinely examined to make sure they are functioning correctly and aren’t showing signs of wear and tear.

For example, in gas powered equipment, always allow the engine a few minutes to cool before refilling empty fuel tanks. Smaller handheld tools should be stored in a cool and dry place alongside seeds and labels. 

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