June gardening tips

By Dawn Pettinelli - UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Featured Article - posted Wed., Jun. 13, 2012
- Contributed Photo

Here it is the middle of June and the weather is still a bit variable – not that it is a bad thing. For late planters (like me this year), it has a plus. Plants put into the ground over the weekend get a few humid and not terribly hot days, so their roots can begin to grow into the surrounding soil. The cooler, moist weather has been perfect for all sorts of greens – that is, if you can keep the slugs away from them, as this weather is perfect for them, too! I already harvested the spinach, some Chinese greens and leaf lettuce twice and they still are not bitter.

Slug battles will continue until the weather warms up and the soils dry out some. In the meantime, you can try to control the slimy creatures with iron phosphate, diatomaceous earth and copper strips, or to capture them using beer, grapefruit rinds or boards. Be careful if using iron phosphate. While iron phosphate by itself will not injure pets, it is usually combined with another ingredient such as EDTA, which makes it more soluble and toxic to slugs but also more soluble and potentially toxic to pets. Keep baits in bait stations or cover with a broken clay pot.

Now until the middle of July is a good time to prune evergreens. Broad-leaved types such as rhododendrons and azaleas usually just require a light shaping and maybe some touch-ups to try and camouflage the deer damage. If you have the time, twist off spent flower clusters and seed pods. Cut back new growth on yews to a leaf bud if possible, so you won’t leave little stubs. Pines, spruces and firs can be pruned by clipping back candles (young shoot tips) about halfway when they have elongated but not fully expanded. Junipers rarely need pruning, but if they do, cut just below an upward pointing shoot to avoid stubby ends.

Stake taller perennials, if you have not already done so. Use bamboo stakes, pea brush or purchased metal stakes or hoops. Pinch mums, asters and boltonias for more compact, bushier plants.

Whether cutting roses to enjoy indoors or removing matured blossoms, prune back to a five-leaflet leaf. I have been on the look-out for pear slugs which skeletonize the leaves of roses, especially the antique varieties. They are hard to spot because they feed on the undersides of leaves.

I did notice the beginning of some black spot on one of my hybrid teas. This year I was planning on trying Remedy, which is a potassium bicarbonate (think baking soda) based spray that is supposed to control a number of fungus diseases including black spot and powdery mildew. There are a number of both chemical and natural fungicides that can be used to control diseases in home gardens. In order for almost any of them to control diseases effectively, however, they need to be sprayed as a preventative measure before the plants are totally infected. Once the plant shows signs of disease, it is often too late to spray.

Roses can be fertilized in mid-June and again in mid-July. Generally one-quarter to one-half cup of a 5-10-10 or an organic fertilizer equivalent can be applied around each plant based on its size. Speaking of fertilizers, corn, tomatoes, winter squash and other long season vegetables will probably appreciate a side dressing of fertilizer late this month or in July. If you are using a water-soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro or fish emulsion, keep in mind that since they are soluble, the nutrients leach from the soil rather quickly and these types of fertilizers do need to be reapplied every few weeks. Synthetic granular fertilizers like 5-10-10 will last for six to eight weeks, while slow-release natural organic fertilizers may continue to gradually supply nutrients for several months.

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn yet, either do it some time this month or wait until September. Raise the blades of your lawn mover to 2 and a half to 3 inches. Longer grass not only helps shade out weed seedlings, but it will also keep the root zone a little cooler during the hot summer months and slow down evaporation.

Those experiencing problems in their yards or gardens can call the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, toll-free, 877-486-6271, visit the website www.ladybug.uconn.edu, view the weekly blog at www.uconnladybug.wordpress.edu, or contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

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