Weekend: How to keep your garden looking its best

By BILL LANNING
June is the month that many perennial flowers reach their peak.
Roses make their grandest show in June, but they also provide additional blooms throughout the growing season. So that we can enjoy some of the late-season rose blooms, there is a rose show planned for the Hancock County Fair on Aug. 28.
With the warmer days and nights, all of our garden plants are showing rapid growth and development. We will soon have the added beauty of the annual flower blooms.
Of course, we are also seeing the invasion of the gardener’s nemesis: Weeds!
Weeding can be a big discouragement for the beginning gardener. I have found the task to be much more manageable when I get weeds when they are small. I try to spend some time in the gardens each day to battle weeds.
There are many products available to help keep ahead of the weeds. I have found the “hula” hoe to be very effective and a great way to get some healthy exercise.
This is the month, also, to plant your warm-season vegetables, such as beans, corn, melons, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and squash. Cucumbers and pumpkins also love the summer temperatures.
“Jack-be-little” is a small pumpkin that makes great holiday decorations. The vines of this pumpkin are smaller, so they can be grown in smaller gardens.
Dead-heading is another task to start this month and to continue throughout the summer.
Dead-heading is the removal of the faded flower blooms. This will encourage development of new flowers and bushier plants.
All plants need about an inch of water each week during the growing season. You can help your plants by supplying this water when the rains fail to do it.
Plants also appreciate a light application of nitrogen fertilizer about every six weeks during the growing season. Do not over fertilize. Too much fertilizer encourages lots of foliage and decreases the number of blooms or fruit.
Mulch can be used around many flowers and vegetables to control weeds and diseases, and to maintain soil moisture. Tomatoes, especially, appreciate a layer of mulch to maintain an even moisture level, which helps to prevent blossom end rot.
Author Ruth Stout covers her whole vegetable garden with mulch and advocates it as the best and easiest way to garden.
Mulch may consist of straw, grass clippings, newspapers, shredded bark, black plastic, and other materials that decompose slowly.
Do not pile mulch too deep or too high, especially around trees. If it resembles a volcano around your trees, it may cause damage to the root system or encourage insect or disease problems.
The OSU Extension Hancock County master gardeners are available to help with any of your gardening questions and they can be reached at 419-422-3851. You can also go online to ohioline.osu.edu for fact sheets and bulletins, which answer most gardening questions.
Enjoy your gardening, and remember to stop and smell the roses.
Lanning is an Ohio State University Extension Hancock County master gardener volunteer.

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