What could be left to do in your garden in July, now that all of the above have been taken care of?
A good friend of mine once said that gardening is the only art form that is constantly changing. I think that they may be right, as I can't think of another that relies on nature as our primary partner.
Truth is, you can still plant and mulch (if you have not finished these jobs). Weeding is a task that only goes away with the deep frost of late autumn. And watering comes and goes relative to rain fall, which has been scarce of late over most of Canada.
My sources at Home Hardware (with 1,100 stores across the nation) tell me that regions from the Maritimes in the east to the prairies have experienced lower than average rain so far this year. Garden hose (the Mark's Choice Clear Flow Hose!) is racing off the shelf, as are lawn sprinklers and rain barrels. Where I live in Ontario, north of Toronto, the farm is parched. A centimetre of rain on Sunday night was the first measurable rain that we have seen in 3 weeks.
My answer to this lack of natural water?
- Hand water containers and newly planted plants.
- Keep an eye on the veggie garden, especially seeds that recently germinated and are in regular need of water. I am watering young seedlings every second or third day.
- Mulch. I am spreading finely ground up cedar bark mulch around permanent plants like roses, perennials and along the root zone of hedges, 4 to 6 cm thick, to insulate the soil from the drying effects of the sun. You can buy this stuff by the bag at Home Hardware. Go for it and be generous.... to yourself. Mulching saves you a lot of time and offers the option of more 'hammock time' later in the season.
- Rain barrels. I use them to water all of my container grown plants. All annuals love the warm water. Sometimes I add fertilizer to the water to help feed hungry hanging baskets and window boxes (and they ARE hungry as they only have so much room in which to put down a root!).
When I have to, I fill my rain barrels with tap water, which makes them (at least temporarily) 'tap water' barrels. Okay, it is still warm by the time I get around to applying it.
- Relax. Yes, relax. The established trees, shrubs and evergreens in your garden will recover. If they were planted less than 3 years ago I recommend that you drop the end of your garden hose at the base of each plant and let a trickle of water percolate through the root zone for an hour or more once every week or two.
A lawn sprinkler will just 'sprinkle' (thus the name) and that is pretty useless for a deep rooted permanent tree etc. Use your own good judgement and, as is say, stick your finger in the soil up to the second knuckle. If it is cool and damp you are doing a good job and there is no need for more water.
As Dr Spock famously said, if you are a mother, follow your instincts and you can't go too wrong (words to that effect). In this context you are the mother of the plants in your garden, regardless of your sex.
- Relax with your lawn too. No point in watering your lawn during a drought. Really. You will just annoy it. Let it go dormant, as it does when it is hot and dry, and count on most of it coming back to life in August when days are shorter, evening temperatures lower and morning dew is heavy. If it rains, consider that a bonus. We grow great grass in Canada: be patient and let Mother Nature take her course.
My monthly to-do list below, not necessarily moisture-related.
You, dear readers, are among my best friends and advisors (yes, some of you advise me on a regular basis, telling me when I 'got it wrong' or I got it right, offering constructive opinions of my Mark's Choice garden tools and supplies at Home Hardware and just sharing personal stories that relate to your gardening experience).
SO, it is a great pleasure to announce that the Governor General's office called me to say that they are awarding me the Order of Canada. YEA! I am delighted, beside myself, overwhelmed with excitement and thankful (oh so thankful!) to live in this great country of ours.
I am humbled too, as I think of all of the people who do great work in this country but never get sufficient recognition.
The announcement is official - today - as the Governor General likes to make these things public first. So, indeed, you are among the first to know.
I believe that you had something to do with this. In my citation, they mention the years that I have spent encouraging and promoting sustainable gardening and farming. Indeed, I couldn't do that without an audience. That is you.
And my audience are my friends: always have been and always will be.
Today I celebrate with you.
With heartfelt thanks for putting trust in my word.
I promise that I will do everything that I can to keep and build on that trust as I know that it has to be earned. Thank you.
And thank you to my many friends who endorsed the idea of this award. Evidently the process started about 2 years ago and has involved a lot of work on the part of the 'applicants'. Not to mention that it was a complete surprise to me.
My wife said that it is the only secret that she has ever kept from me.
Now I know what she is capable of, what next?
Things To Do in July around the garden:
2. Apply bordo mixture to tomatoes to prevent early blight. Once every 2 weeks all summer.
3. Prune evergreens, especially cedars including cedar hedges.
4. Remove spent flowers from your peonies and other spring flowering plants. It is true that if you remove spent lilac flowers, the plant will bloom more prolifically next year.
5. Don't fertilize your lawn if it is dry. After some good rain, go for it and use Golfgreen Iron Plus.
6. Put out hummingbird feeders. Clean the ones that you have.
7. Feed container grown plants like petunias and geraniums with 20-20-20 water soluble plant food every 10 days to 2 weeks. All summer.
8. Relax (there is that word again!) Hammock time... read a good book. I just finished a novel "At the Edge of the Orchard" by Tracy Chevalier. Based on real history (1850's), a great story and I learned a few things about apples! What can you recommend that you have read lately? Email me at [email protected]. I will publish your recommendations in my next newsletter.
Pick up a copy of my newest book The New Canadian Garden. A grrrreat summertime read: you will learn how to grow food more effectively, how to start a community or allotment garden, how to maximize the pollinators in your garden and how to engage young people in the exercise. $20 at book retailers and Home Hardware. If they don't have it on the shelf they will gladly order it for you. Speaking of pollinators, check this out: cartoon
Enjoy your early summer: talk to you on the 15th with Food Gardening.
Keep your knees dirty,
Merchant of Beauty
Garden Tour Photo Contest
I enjoy touring gardens in July. It is inspiring to see what's going on in private gardens across the country. I would love to see how your garden is growing this summer.
Send me a photo of your yard/garden and I will enter your name in my monthly contest.
This month I am giving away a signed copy of my new book The New Canadian Garden to 5 lucky winners. The New Canadian Garden
focuses on 'growing your own food', 'community gardens', 'biodiversity', and 'the learning garden'.
Deadline for submitting a photo is July 6, 2016.
Fathers Day Contest - Winner
Last month I invited you to share 'What your Father taught you about gardening'.
I received many heart-felt responses and truly enjoyed reading each story. I thank all of you who entered. I selected the winner randomly from all entries.
Congratulations to Janice Hamilton-Dicker who won the Father's Day prize pack
(Mark's Choice bypass pruners & sharpener, gloves and a signed copy of my new book The New Canadian Garden
Product of the Month - Mark's Choice Hummingbird Feeder
This is the most popular hummingbird feeder in my garden. I think the hummers really appreciate the perches.
The big, red roof attracts hummingbirds and acts as a rain guard, sunshade, and ant moat all in one.
The feeder disassembles for easy cleaning (which you should do every few days). I clean my feeder every time it is empty. With a 20 oz. nectar capacity, it takes 3 to 4 days for the hummingbirds in my neighbourhood to empty this feeder.
Mark's Gardening Connections
My monthly Event Listings are so popular we were running out of room in the newsletter. All event listings have moved to www.markcullen.com.
Event lists are organized by Province and accessible through these links:
Do you have a 'gardening' event you would like to promote? I would be happy to include your event listing on my website.
Send your info to [email protected]
with the subject line 'Event Listing
'. Please provide a brief description of the event, along with a website for further information.