Paul J. Hang

Do you remember Rosemary Clooney’s song “Miss Otis regrets she is unable to lunch today”? I didn’t think so. Do you remember Rosemary Clooney? ( hint, George’s aunt.) Okay, the song was in 1964 so if you aren’t as old as I am I’ll forgive you.

The song is about a woman who is being hanged by the mob, after springing her from jail, for shooting her mobster boyfriend who done her wrong. You’ll be very surprised to hear, it was not a major hit. For some strange reason I couldn’t get that song out of my head while working in the garden between downpours. It got me thinking about regret.

I am not one of those people who say “I have no regrets. If I had my life to live over I’d do everything the same.” Are they kidding? Not me. I can think of hundreds of decisions I regret and that I would make differently. This is not true confessions so I’ll stick to gardening. Every spring I regret that I did not plant more spring bulbs last fall. Not just more daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth and alliums, but some of the more exotic ones like Winter Aconite, Wood Anemone, Camassia, English Bluebells, and on and on.

I always regret I did not plant more trees years ago. Like the day I moved in. This year I planted red raspberries (my favorite) and three blueberry bushes that bear fruit early, mid and late in the season. I regret I did not do that earlier. Every year I regret I did not keep up with the spray program on my Moyer’s Spice apple tree. I regret that I don’t get all of my shrubs pruned every year. I regret I bought a new gas powered string trimmer instead of a battery powered one. I regret that my 20-year-old John Deere mower should be replaced.

I suppose all gardeners have regrets, even the most optimistic ones. You have to be optimistic to be a gardener. Weather, pests, and diseases all change year by year. If it’s not one thing it’s another. However, the combination of those vagaries always favors something. You have a good tomato year followed by one that isn’t but produces bushels of cucumbers and on it goes. I regret I didn’t take botany in college. I regret that I didn’t start gardening seriously sooner in my life. You show me a gardener who has no regrets and I’ll show you someone who is not susceptible to poison Ivy.

Things to do in the garden:

It is not too late to start a garden. Plants of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are the best bet for early June transplanting. Plants that can be planted from seed in early June are: green beans (successive plantings every three weeks can extend the harvest), beets, carrots, Swiss chard, corn (depending on the variety), cucumber, lettuce, lima beans, muskmelon, winter and summer squash.

To avoid the wilting of cucumber and melon vines cover the new plants with row cover material until the plants flower. Then remove the cover so that the pollinators can do their work. Use row covers on all vegetable plants that do not need to be pollinated. Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, onions and root crops are examples. We eat them before they flower and go to seed, thus no need for them to be pollinated. I have begun to do this on more vegetables and it keeps most pests away. Mulch vegetables in mid-month after the soil has warmed up. You can fertilize all vegetables, corn two times, this month.

Weed and thin plants. Crowding plants more than is recommended results in all the plants doing poorly. Water deeply (not a little each day) one-inch per week all summer. Apply the water to the base of the plants rather than on the foliage. If you use a sprinkler, water early in the day so the foliage can dry before nightfall. Wet foliage overnight encourages fungal diseases to develop.

Remove seed heads from perennials. Don’t allow fancy hybrids to ripen and self-sow as their offspring will not come true. Deadhead flowers for more blooms. Iris can be divided and replanted after blooming. Pinch back mums once they are four to six inches tall. Continue to pinch back until mid-July.

If your daffodils didn’t bloom, well it could be because they are now growing in the shade of trees or shrubs. Or perhaps the daffodils are too crowded. Once the foliage turns yellow you can dig up the bulbs and divide and/or move them.

Fruit trees often shed small fruits in early summer called June Drop. Thin after this occurs. Thin apples to one per cluster and one fruit every four to eight inches. Other tree fruit can be thinned a little less. This will cause bigger fruit. Don’t thin cherries. Pick up all fallen fruit. Only compost fallen fruit if you have a “hot” heap. Otherwise dispose of diseased fruit in the trash.

If you notice a “volunteer” tomato plant in your garden, yank it out or transplant it. Good gardeners, like good farmers, rotate their crops. A volunteer growing in last year’s tomato area allows disease to accumulate in that spot. Mulch under tomatoes keeps the soil from splashing up on the fruits. I am trying the red plastic mulch on tomatoes that is reported to give better yields. Soil on the fruits promotes disease.

If you don’t stake, trellis or cage your tomatoes and let them sprawl on the ground, mulch will keep the fruit off the bare ground. Mulch keeps the ground from drying out, suppresses weeds and moderates the soil temperature. Several layers of newspaper topped with organic mulch, leaves, untreated grass clippings, coarse compost, shredded bark etc. should do the trick. Never let your tomatoes wilt. Uneven watering causes blossom end rot.

The Master Gardener Volunteers Helpline is open for your gardening questions. Call 740-474-7534 with your question or go to www.Pickaway.osu.edu, click on “Ask an expert.” Master Gardener Volunteers will get back to you with answers to your questions. Try to provide as much information as you can. If you send pictures send one of the plant, one of the problem, or one of the blossom and leaf. This is particularly important for plant ID and for trees.

Water your roses well but hold off on the geraniums. They will bloom best when kept somewhat dry. Newly planted trees and bushes should be watered well each week for the first two years if the weather turns dry. Give them a good soaking. Don’t give them a booster feeding of fertilizer this year. Force those young roots to search for food by stretching out into the soil.

This article was written by Paul J. Hang to be published in The Circleville Herald. Hang is an OSU Extension Master Gardener. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

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