The garden is in full swing this month as the season moves into summer. With this transition comes more than rising temperatures. Reduced natural water levels start this month with sometimes as little as an inch or rain for the whole month. In addition more insects make their appearance in the garden. It is like a “Spaghetti Western” out there in the garden featuring the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. And it is your job to know who is who and help those beneficial insects (the good) save the day. Roses start to strut their stuff this month. Gardeners may be hoping for some time to stop and smell the roses. But the astute gardener has an eye on future rewards while enjoying the current ones. Fall and winter vegetable planning begins this month so look to this section below on what plants to get started.
- Fuchsias and other flowering plants can be transplanted into hanging baskets. Best plants are tender perennials and annuals with shallow roots. E.g. ageratums, browallia, coleus, marigolds, zinnias, dusty millers, impatiens, annual lobelia, sweet alyssum, verbenas, vincas (major and minor) and wax begonias.
- Divide spring flowering Bearded Iris and Oriental poppies after they bloom when they slow growth. Usually necessary every 4-5 years. A Hori Hori Knife is a useful tool for dividing perennials. Prune back top growth to by 1/3.
- Test soil around spring flowering plants with a soil tester and fertilize if necessary. They need adequate nutrients to set next years flower buds.
- Keep roses clean from diseased wood and unhealthy canes. Pick off faded flowers and keep petals and leaves from the ground reducing disease problems. Spray with natural 3-IN-1 Neem Oil to control fungal diseases as well as mites and insect pests.
- Mow your lawn regularly keeping the length between 2 and 2.5 inches. For a healthier lawn do not allow the lawn to get taller than 3 to 3.5 inches long between mowings. The lawn should receive 1″ water per week. In areas where the soil is very porous as in Lakewood the watering should be 1/2″ every 3-4 days. Early morning is the optimal time to water the lawn. The same watering regime can be used for other landscaped areas of the yard.
- Post flower prune early spring flowering plants that bloom on old wood like azaleas, forsythias, lilacs, mountain laurel, pieris, quince, rhododendron and spiraea. Rejuvenation can be achieved by completely removing older stems or cutting to 6″ to a foot from the ground. Subshrubs and perennials like rockcress, evergreen candytuft, Moss pinks (dianthus) should also be cut back strongly after flowering.
- Thin out shade trees. The best time for this is when there are leaves on the tree so you can increase a view or allow more light below them.
- Mulch broad-leafed evergreens with an acidic mulch like oak-leaf compost, wood chips, pine needles etc. Do not allow mulch to build up against the base of the plants.
- Deadhead rhododendrons, azaleas mountain laurels Pieris. This reroutes the energy that would have been used to make seedpods to new growth and next years flower buds.
- Last call to plant containerized or ball and burlap woody trees, shrubs, groundcovers and vines before the summer weather makes establishment more difficult.
- Indoor plants can safely make their way outdoors in lightly shaded areas. Plants that respond well to going outdoors in the summer include gardenias, Madagascar periwinkles, star jasmines, wax plants, fuchsias, princess flowers and cyclamens.
- Plants staying inside can be moved to cooler rooms for the summer.
- Apple Maggot larvae have been in the dormant pupae stage over the winter and are in the process this month of emerging from the ground as adult flies. The Adults superficially resemble houseflies and are about 1/4 inch long. They have a black and white banded pattern on the wings and a white spot on the body. They have many hosts but apples, crabapples and hawthorns are the most common in the PNW but sometimes they can be found on plums, apricots, pears, Asian pears, Sweet and sour cherrries, rose hips, cotoneaster, mountain ash and pyracantha. Monitor and control with Apple maggot traps and lures. They do not emerge all at once but instead emerge in waves throughout the summer until early fall. There is an organic spray made from kaolin clay (used in the food industry for its anti caking effect) and sometimes goes by the trade name Surround WP Crop Protectant. You can also control the adults using either the sticky apple traps or the yellow sticky traps in conjunction with apple maggot lures. None of these controls are 100 percent effective so I always suggest protecting some of the fruit with plastic bags. Tie them around the fruit to prevent the flies entry. Be sure to leave enough room for developing fruit. This is an insurance policy for some larvae free eggs. The first line of defense starts in the fall when you should lay out tarps under the trees to prevent infected apples from reaching the ground and releasing the larvae. Another option is to use a specific species (Steinernema feltiae ) of beneficial nematode which is sometimes found under the trade name Scanmask has been found effective for control of larvae in the soil. These beneficial nematodes are available online and sometimes can be ordered through garden centers.
- Spittle bugs – foamy masses found on your strawberries, peas or flowering plants and herbs are the protective coating of small sap sucking insects. They are easy to control with a strong blast of water which breaks up the foam and knocks the insects from the plants.
- Cabbage loopers (cabbage worms) – If you have seen the pretty little white butterflies hovering over you cole crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower you should be on the lookout for the eggs that it deposits on the underside of the leaves. Left unchecked they will hatch into hungry caterpillars that will chew holes in the foliage and into the florets of the broccoli and cauliflower. Control by rubbing eggs off of the foliage and then by using BT Dipel 150 Dust.
- Carrot rust flies – this quarter inch fly with yellow legs and yellow head is seldom recognized or seen by gardeners. But after they lay their eggs at the base of the carrot the damage of the white maggots is very evident. If you have this pest the best control is growing carrots under a floating row cover (Remay) to prevent the fly from laying its eggs.
- Aphids – This sap sucking insect has been around since earlier in the spring and may have gone unnoticed until now. The populations in June increase dramatically and can be green, red, black and yellow in color. Use insecticidal soap, APHID CHASERS or APHID & WHITEFLY STICKY YELLOW TRAPS to control them.
- Slugs – continue to be a nuisance particularly in shady parts of the garden. Use organic bait products with iron phosphate like Sluggo.
- Rhododendron Lace Bugs – The “lace” of the adult insect’s wings can only be seen under a microscope since the adults are only about 1/8 of an inch long. What are usually most visible on the underside of the leaves are the insect’s excrement and the nymph’s shed exoskeletons, which are shed at each stage of growth. Symptom include yellow to brown speckling on the surface of the leaves and activity below the leaves where the lacebugs and their juvenile nymphs are feeding. They feed like aphids with piercing sucking mouthparts. Often a large infestation of Rhododendron Lace Bug is a sign that the rhododendron may be under some stress. Sometimes infestations are exacerbated by drought, to high a pH (they prefer to be somewhere between 4.5 to 6.0) or too much direct sun. Both insecticidal soap and neem oil will control Lace Bugs. Or you can use the best of both worlds and use a new neem soap, which is derried from the neem oil,
- Beneficials – Benefical insects are also emerging now since lagging slightly behind their prey. In particular Lady bugs and their alligator looking offspring have appeared. Be very careful since the black (often with orange spots) lady bug larvae are often unfamiliar to many gardeners and are often sprayed as pests. The young eat even more aphids and soft bodied pests than the adults do. You can help attract and keep aphids in your garden with LADY BUG LURES Hover flies (Syrphid Flies) have black bodies with yellow bands much like a bee. The adults can be seen hovering around flowers and feeding on the nectar and pollen. Their larvae have small fangs that feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids.
- Wasps hornets and yellow jackets : Increase activity and nest building begins in June. These insects are beneficial preying on many garden pests. They can be a problem when nests are too close to human activity.Poison Free Wasp and Hornet Killer is an organic control in these situations.
Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit
- Transplant heat loving plants like eggplants, melons, okra, peppers, squash, tomatoes, as well as late crops cabbage, cauliflower, celery and heat tolerant – slow bolting lettuce varieties.
- Seed directly into the garden Asian Greens (usually in the mustard family), beans (bush or pole), corn, cucumbers, New Zealand spinach (heat tolerant spinach substitute), parsnips, peas, pumpkin, radishes and squash.
- Start seedlings or sow directly in the ground beginning in the middle of the month for early fall crops like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endive & radicchio, green onions, kohlrabi, Swiss chard rutabagas and turnips.
- Plant out tender herbs like sweet marjoram, dill, basil and cilantro as well as other herbs like chives, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
- Thin apple trees, Asian and European pears if necessary (if fruit have been plentiful but small). Don’t thin if your tree is in a light year. Thin instead in next years heavy year to even bearing out between years.