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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for Uly

“A Little 4th of July Funny”

Well, Happy Fourth of July and here's to all the festivities, family and food. As I have said in past articles, we as Americans should go out of our way to show our patriotism. I am proud to be a United States citizen and try to do my part to express this sentiment in quiet ways, such as planting a red, white and blue flowerbed for everyone to see. I display the flag out in front of my home, and always have family and friends over for an old fashioned barbeque where dessert is a sheet cake iced like an American flag. Of course our display of patriotism comes in many different forms such as attending fireworks extravaganzas or ending the night singing patriotic songs. Whatever interest in displays or no displays, we should all say to ourselves, God Bless America.

Now, back to the garden. We should be entering into the hottest and driest part of the year, and we will need to water pots and flower beds on a daily basis.

Although June has been wet and rather cool, do not be lulled into complacency. Recently I heard from a reader who told me she had been watering her pots last summer and the plants did not thrive. When I asked her how she knew she had thoroughly water the soil, she said she just ran the hose over the pots. To properly water where the roots get moist and not just the soil on top, poke your index finger down into the dirt to the first knuckle, if the soil is moist at the level, you have properly watered the pot. For pots, the potting soil should come down at least one inch from the lip of the post. Usually, if you water until the water is level with this lip that should be enough. This watering soil test is also good for plants growing out in beds.

I was reading through some garden articles and came across a few tips which I will share with you:

1. If you have snail problems, crush up eggshells and place them where snails are a pest. They hate eggshells.

2. Instead of purchasing expensive plastic containers, take egg cartons, poke holes in the bottom for drainage , fill with potting soil, sow the seeds, and the seeds will germinate.

3. Save bottle tops and place in the bottom of clay pots for drainage.

4. For the environmentalist who wants to rid an area of weeds, such as sidewalks, pour boiling hot water directly onto the weed, and death is within minutes.

5. Vinegar will kill weeds if poured onto the roots. Just punch a hole with a stake close to the weed, and then pour the vinegar into the hole.

6. To prevent tools from rusting, clean with coke and steel wool, then plunge the tool into sand.

7. One inexpensive way to identify herbs or other plants to gather some smooth rocks, paint them with oil paint (latex may wash off) and then write the name of the plant on the painted surface with contrasting color.

What should we be growing in July? If there are areas of your garden where you have had to remove spent annuals, think about sowing seed.

Zinnias, Cleome and Cosmos can be sown directly into the beds without starting them in pots and later transplanting into the garden. Except for dwarf zinnias, these selections are tall, topping three or more feet. Any biennials that have bloomed should be removed as they have expended their life cycle. For the perennials, try cutting them back by about a third, and see if they would bring up a fresh flush of bloom. If not, either leave in place for leaf texture and prevent having to buy summer annual replacements. These will need to be totally cut back in the fall and winter anyway. For sunny areas of the bed, vinca, ageratum, dragon wing begonias, melanpodium, gomphrena, dusty miller and torenia to name a few for sunny areas. There are impatiens, dusty miller, hosta and begonias for the shady areas. Just be sure of the sun or shade requirements, so there are no disappointments.

Happy Gardening!


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