This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape
Week of July 4, 2016 By Ron Kujawski
Enjoy the 4th and then come back to reality with these fun activities:
- Rejuvenate your strawberry bed after completing the harvest if the plants appear healthy and the bed is free of weeds. First mow off the leaves with your rotary lawn mower set at 2 1/2 or 3 inches. Narrow the rows to 18 inches by rototilling or digging with a garden fork. Then apply fertilizer, about a pound per 100 square feet of bed.
- Fertilize roses. Roses are somewhat gluttonous; they like to be fed often. The two easiest ways to feed roses is to work a slow-release fertilizer into the soil around the plants, or apply a water soluble fertilizer to the plants every few weeks. Also, apply a mulch of grass clippings around rose plants. As clippings decompose, they contribute nutrients to the plant.
- Spray tomatoes with a copper or sulfur fungicide or a biological fungicide containing the bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, when the first symptoms of early blight are seen. Brown, concentric-ringed spots, first appearing on lower leaves, is the primary symptom of this disease. Early blight develops rapidly at this time of year, so plants should be checked every few days for symptoms.
- Cut some floral stems from astilbe for use in flower arrangements. Harvest stems when flowers are half open. Immediately place the flower stems in warm water to which floral preservative has been applied. In fact, this is good advice for handling any cut flower.
- Take cuttings from miniature roses. Each cutting should have three leaves. Insert the cutting into a sterile medium and cover with a plastic bag. Keep in bright light but not direct sunlight. Rooting will occur in about 3 weeks.
- Cut catmint back to ground level after plants have completed their bloom. This seemingly harsh treatment rejuvenates the plants and should result in repeat bloom later this summer.
- Examine the undersides of leaves of Japanese andromeda if the upper surfaces of leaves are noticeably yellow and stippled. Shiny, tar-like droplets of excrement on the undersides of leaves indicate presence of Andromeda Lacebug, an insect that sucks sap from the leaves and eventually causes serious defoliation. Andromeda plants growing in full sun are especially prone to serious injury from this pest. Apply horticultural oil (at summer rate) or insecticidal soap to manage lacebug infestation.