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In The Garden This Week: Spring is Coming on Strong

Some helpful hints about gardening as we move into summer.

Well, it looks like we are going to have sun for the next week or so-hurray! Not terribly warm weather-60s and 70s- but that is absolutely perfect for us gardeners.

The biggest problem we have had with all of the dampness, fog and rain has been the development of fungal diseases like black spot on roses or powdery mildew on a number of plants. You may have to be reduced to having to use a fungicide on some of your plants, but choose that fungicide very carefully. It cannot be stated more clearly than to tell you to READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY. Be suspicious if the label tells you that you should wait 2 or 3 or 5 days after application before harvesting (and eating!) certain vegetables. That, in itself, should frighten you a little. The most important part of the label on any solution for controlling garden problems is that part of the label printed in an almost microscopic font. Look closely at that part of the label and, in addition to the fungicide, pesticide or insecticide (which is often listed as less than 2% of the total composition), it will say "inert ingredients" usually somewhere in the 98% range. Don't be comforted by this. Inert ingredients can add a lot of things like, manganese, zinc, cadmium and chromium among others to your plants, and the plants need absolutely no more of these chemicals than are already in the soil. There ARE organic controls and those will be discussed in a future blog.

For now, just be wary and read the labels carefully. Be aware of what you are dousing your flowers or vegetable with. Also many insect killers will kill ALL insects. Protect the bees! If you have to spray an insecticide or fungicide do it in the late evening after the bees have gone to bed.

Aren't the Asiatic Lilies beautiful as they are beginning to pop open? Such a variety of colors as they present in the garden. Everything seems to be coming on strong, color-wise at this time. A new experience for me this year is a lily towering six feet in the air! Never seen that before!

And most lawns are doing very well with all of the rain that we have had. It is too early for crabgrass. But there are other weeds around. By the way, that preemergent crabgrass control that you put down in April is really only good for about 3 months. That is why it tends to sprout in August or so. Then you will need post-emergent crabgrass killer-unless you can live with it (like me). It's green, after all.

Speaking of lawns, many people feel that the proper height for mowing lawns is an inch and a half! Wrong! The proper height should be three inches. Think of a blade of grass as an individual plant with a deep root system. If only an inch or so of that plant is above the ground, it is not going to be very healthy. And, yes, after your grass is mowed it is a good practice to leave the clippings on the lawn. They provide a good source of nitrogen to your lawn; an excellent fertilizer component. And a good rain shower will make it disapper. Don't worry what your neighbors will say. Enjoy your lawn and make it fun, not work!

A gardening guide recommendation: "The Garden Primer" by Barbara Damrosch. This is an outstanding "Bible" of gardening, covering everything from fruits, vegetables, perennials, annuals and trees. It includes ways to accomplish many garden tasks as well. It is comprehensive and it is "100% organic" as it states on the cover. It is a wonderful resource for both the beginner and the experienced gardener.

Future events:

1. A workshop/lecture on "Organic Pest Control" at the Middletown Community Garden (behind the Middletown Public Library) this Saturday June 16th at 10 A.M. It will be offered by URI Master Gardener Hall of Famers Lucy Hiuggins and Jim Garman. All are welcome.

2. Also our normal URI Master Gardener weekly soil testing and gardening informaton kiosk at Paradise Valley Park (next to the windmill) in Middletown. We are there from noon to 2 every Sunday. Bring your gardening/lawn questions and we will do our best to give you good, research-based answers. You call also bring samples of your problems as well. Join us.

3. And keep in mind The URI Master Gardener Hotline every Monday to Thursday from 9-2. Call 1-800-448-1011 with your questions.

Contact us at gardeninginformationri@gmail.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Reine Horowitz June 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM
REALLY appreciate this blog, but...couldn't come to the workshop on Organic Pest Control because it was posted today (the day of the event). Could we please have more advance notice of such events next time? Thanks!
Jim Garman June 16, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Hi Reine, THanks for your comment. The lecture was mentionede in my blog last week and there was a notice in the Daily News twice this week., Anyway, we had a good turnout and we have made plans to do several other lectures at the Middletown Community Garden. I'll get the notice out in a more timely manner when we get them scheduled.

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