Urban Gardener: Sweet Summer Gardens
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Never are the gardener’s rewards so apparent. Do not confine horticultural efforts to one plant or single type of crop. Diversity is never so strong as expressed within the garden universe. Rare is the gardener who ignores the immense garden vocabulary. For most of us, the garden is a metaphor for many human qualities. Indulge the senses, intrigue the mind, inspire the soul.
Urban gardeners can rely upon their patch for culinary, gustatory, and sheer joy. Envious of other gardens? Do not forsake this need. A garden can be started at any time and is the most perfect definition of the calendar. Look around for examples of plants and crops. Our cultural tapestry is a great introduction to the many plants that never enter the mass market. The personal garden is the trampoline to jump into exploration of unknown vegetables, flowers and fruits. Perhaps the most endearing qualities of gardeners is their willingness to share their joys and failures. Surely we all know someone happy to raise the largest zucchini known to town. Or less likely, those who retreat from rampant weeds or infested cucumber vines and migrate to the produce section in the market.
Lilies bloom over a long period during summer. This large tribe has deep roots in our communities. The daylilies and Asiatic lilies are more common for good reasons. They require very little care, thrive in sunshine, are tolerant of moderately fertile soils and offer many lovely flowers. Stargazer lilies have established themselves at the forefront of fragrant lilies. They are a happy marriage of color, scent and form. Reaching to nearly six feet, they are slow to establish from walnut size bulbs. Plant in well drained loam with plenty of sunlight. Give them a good start with a generous helping of bonemeal at planting and an annual top dressing each year. Try not to disturb the bulbs. Mulch at all times and exploit their height by planting an understory of pleasing long lasting blooming plants, I enjoy great success with an understory of petunias, another fragrant bloom, which will start blooming before the Stargazers and persist right up until frost for constant fragrance and color. Dead head as needed.
Perplexed by the invasion of American gardens by bright red foreign beetles? Apply soapy sprays to the lilies that contain a homemade mixture of dish detergent and tobacco, strained to keep fine nozzles unclogged. Repeat. It also pays to keep a small wide mouthed container with a small amount of any vegetable oil inside. Pick off any beetle or swipe them from the leaves into the jar. The vegetable oil will clog their wings and body until you pull back the mulch and pour the cheap stew of insects onto the soil and recover with the mulch. Prowl your patch and get in touch with the plants and the insects that live among them. Most insects are harmless or beneficial to the garden. A well-nourished plant has considerable powers of resistance to enemies. Restrain from strong mixtures of chemicals that have long guidelines for application and especially, disclaimers for poison. Few chemical insecticides target specific species, most are lethal to organisms of any rank in the garden. Sincere gardeners do not create deserts and call it peace.
Hot peppers are rewarding. The pepper seeds contain the heat, the skin the colorful flavor. Do not neglect choices here, there are hot peppers that come in various degrees of heat and most especially, color. Red, white, green, purple, black, and golden yellow hot peppers delight the eye. Sometimes grown as specimen plants, hot peppers are easy to preserve. Later in the summer or whenever so inclined; I thread a needle with common sewing thread, pierce the neck just below the stem, and thread the peppers in long strings. They retain their punch right up to the next harvest. Rare is the kitchen that suffers from strings of colorful hot peppers, ready to be snipped off the string as needed.
Mid-summer gardens are Eden. Look beneath your thick mulch and notice how moist the soil remains after hot sunny days. The humus beneath the mulch is the very life blood of future gardens. Tend the plants, tying up errant tomatoes, support burgeoning pole beans, deadhead spent flowers, renew mulches with fresh layers. Banish cares, enjoy the companionship of fellow gardeners and eat hearty. Home grown tastes so sweet.
- The Urban Gardener: Time To Harvest, Time To Plan
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Harvesting Green Beans + Sunflowers
- The Urban Gardener: Growing Herbs For The Kitchen + Heart
- The Urban Gardener: Cheerful Daffodils
- Urban Gardener: Raspberry Razzle Dazzle
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Seeds in the Snowbed
- Urban Gardener: Summer Transplants Take Root
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Oasis of Peace
- Urban Gardener: Presto, it’s Pesto!
- Urban Gardener: Small Fruits, Big Rewards
- Urban Gardener: Glory Days
- Urban Gardener: Summer Solstice Celebration
- Urban Gardener: Volunteers, Step Forward
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Peerless Pears
- Urban Gardener: Container Gardens
- The Urban Gardener: Rise and Shine
- The Urban Gardener: Strawberries and Chives for All
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Spring Poised on the Equinox
- Urban Gardener: March Lions Prowl
- Urban Gardener: Please Plant Peas
- Urban Gardener: Lettuce Among Us
- Urban Gardener: Cold Frames Save the Day
- Urban Gardener: Forsythias Advance on Spring
- Urban Gardener: Paradise Survives Snowstorms!
- Urban Gardener: Compost Complexities
- Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Snow is Good for Gardens
- Urban Gardener: Not Pot but Potatoes