June's busy for gardening enthusiasts
June provides plenty of time to ponder while weeding. Take dandelions, for example. It's commonly known they were brought to this country as a salad or vegetable crop.
Didn't they know they spread like, well, weeds? Or was this a hot new variety in the old country? "Here Gustav, take some of this when you journey to the New World. It's a plant breeding breakthrough, a vigorous new introduction I've named 'dandelion.'"
Weeding included, June is a busy month for yard and garden enthusiasts. The following reminds us of the late June to-do list.
• Begin spraying now for apple maggot control with Sevin or spinosad insecticides at seven- to 10-day intervals through August, thoroughly wetting leaves and developing fruits. Apple maggots are responsible for the brown streaks inside apples.
• Increase apple fruit size and quality by thinning overcrowded apples when dime-sized, spacing them 4 to 6 inches apart. Remaining apples will be larger and higher quality.
• Raise the lawn mower's mowing height to 3 inches. This generous mowing height with a well-sharpened blade will keep the lawn looking neat and lush green, as the roots remain cool and shaded. Moisture is conserved, weeds are lessened and roots grow deeper in proportion to healthier, non-scalped grass blades.
• When watering the lawn, garden and flowers, do so in the morning, if possible. Foliage will dry more quickly, reducing chance of disease.
• Fertilize trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and fruits with a well-balanced type before the end of June, their final fertilizing of the season.
• Continue fertilizing geraniums and other annual flowers in hanging baskets and containers regularly. A steady flow of nutrients encourages continued bloom.
• Deadhead geraniums by snapping off withered flowers plus flower stalks at the point of attachment to the main stem. Seed capsule production diverts plant energy from future flower formation. Other annuals that benefit greatly from deadheading spent flowers include marigold, zinnia, salvia, cosmos and any that form a large seed pod or stalk.
• Remove spent blossoms from peony, iris and other perennials as flowers fade to prevent seed formation.
• Remove the large flowering stalk that arises from rhubarb plants as soon as it's visible.
• To enjoy a fresh rose bouquet, cut flowers above a five or seven-leaflet leaf to encourage new bud formation.
• Remove sucker shoots and trunk sprouts from the base of lindens, basswood, poplars, Japanese tree lilac, Canada red cherry and fruit trees. Prune as flush with trunk as possible.
• Apply insecticide to the base of squash vines by late June to kill squash vine borers before they enter stems, causing wilting and death. Thoroughly treat stems from the ground level outward at least 12 inches.
• Monitor tomato plants for leaf spots and blights. Garden disease preventative fungicides are best applied while foliage is healthy. Avoid wetting foliage when irrigating to avoid splashing disease organisms from soil onto leaves.
• Tomato blossom end rot, which causes sunken, brown or black lesions on fruit bottoms, can be reduced by keeping soil moisture uniform and by avoiding root damage from too-close hoeing. Mulch plants in late June with straw or dried grass clippings.
• If lawns have been sprayed with herbicide, don't use the clippings for mulch or haul to waste collection sites until the third mowing, as previous clippings are likely tainted.
• Hill potatoes by hoeing up soil around the plant's base to prevent sunlight from turning exposed tubers green.
• Midsummer second plantings of lettuce, beets, spinach and radishes germinate better if mulched lightly with peat moss, dried grass clippings or compost to maintain soil surface moisture.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether//growingtogether.areavoices.com.