By Barbara Kozlowski, Master Gardener

What gardening season we have had so far!  Early warm weather in March, heavy snow in April, May and June with a mixed bag and now July’s heat.  Have to love Western New York.  We should glad we didn’t receive the nasty rains and winds that occurred to the south of us.  If you are at all like me, I’m checking on my new plantings in the vegetable garden daily.  I check to see if watering is necessary, if any harmful pest are devouring my plants and of course pulling any weeds that have sprouted overnight.  So far, so good!

Controlling garden pests is almost a full time job unless you did some companion planting to encourage the beneficial insects and discourage the harmful ones.  When you are checking your plants, take a bucket of soapy water to drop any harmful insects in.  But try identify the insect  so the beneficial insects are not the ones ending up in the bucket.  Weeds are also garden ‘pests’.  Mulching or pulling them on a regular basis will stop them from robbing your plants of the nutrients in the soil.  Weeds should not be pulled from ‘bone-dry’ soil.  This can effect any moisture in the soil.  Water first, then gently tug at the weed to insure getting the whole root, shake the soil back into the garden and compost the rest.

Now that we see more and more flowers appearing, remember to ‘deadhead’ – remove spent flowers – to encourage longer flowering and/or repeat flowering.  This works especially well with annuals but perennials benefit from ‘deadheading’ also.  You don’t have to wait until flowers are spent, cut  flowers for a lovely bouquet for your porch or to share with friends.

Our lawns are taking a beating with the hot, dry weather.  Unless you are able to deep water  your lawn frequently – a good inch or more – keep the grass a little longer.  The longer grass will protect the roots from drying out.  Grass is a cool weather crop and will go dormant during periods of little to no rain or watering and excessive heat.  When the rains and cooler weather return, your grass will again begin to grow.

WEDNESDAY IN THE ARBORETUM begins on July 11th at 7 pm.  The schedule for these informative sessions appears in this paper and we look forward to seeing you there.  Also, the Master Gardeners will have plants available for our ‘Pick-a-Plant’.  This is a fund raiser for future Master Gardener programs like GARDENING DAY in the Spring.

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