FACEBOOK’S AI…Poor Elizabeth Licata. She’s the moderator of WNY Gardeners, a Facebook gardening group in western NY, and by all accounts, a very successful group with over 7,500 members. Some of you may have seen the article that appeared in The Baltimore Sun, July 22, 2021. The group became blacklisted, shut down for the frequent use of the word ‘hoe’. Of course, they meant the ever so useful gardening tool! After endless hours of effort on her part, and enlisting the help of the Associated Press, her group has now been assigned a real live person to review situations flagged by AI. And the latest flagged comments….”Kill them all. Drown them in soapy water,” and ‘Japanese beetles are jerks.” I just had to laugh. A great way to start my day.
THE HEAT WAVES HAVE BEEN BRUTAL…We enjoyed an extended spring with gentle rains and cooling temperatures. Then July arrived with some extreme heat, and we’re still trying to adjust. Our plants needed so much more water than normal, but many of us didn’t realize this until several weeks had passed. We’re trying to play catch up as best we can, and hopefully, we’re not too late to keep most of our plants alive. I have already witnessed the decline of trees, shrubs, perennials and turf grass. Don’t be too hard on yourselves if you have some plants that just don’t make it. For many of our plants, they may simply be going dormant prematurely, and will leaf out just fine next spring. The Naked Ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) will soon come into bloom, defiantly showing off their dusty pink blooms above bare stalks. What a welcome surprise amid the heat.
DO YOU HAVE ANNUALS IN CONTAINERS?…These plantings will benefit from an application of Miracle Gro or Jack’s Classic 1x per week, as well as some water on a daily basis. Most only need 1x per day. If you have hanging baskets, they may need water 2x per day. They lose so much moisture due to exposure on all sides.
PLANTING IN AUGUST?…Only plant something new in August if you plan to be around to care for the new plants. For most of us, it’s best to hold off until September.
PLAN FOR YOUR FALL PLANTING NOW…Fall (Sept – Nov) is one of the best times to plant. I recommend placing your orders now before the nurseries sell out of that special plant you want. If ordering from a catalog, make sure to specify NO DELIVERY BEFORE SEPTEMBER. If spring flowering bulbs are on your list, many suppliers are offering discounts if you order now.
TURF GRASS….All of the turf grass experts extol the virtues of planting new grass in the fall. If your area is in full sun without deciduous trees, then they are absolutely correct. If you live in a wooded area, planting in the fall can feel like throwing away good money. Just imagine the tragedy of leaves falling and smothering baby blades of new grass. Maybe mature grass can withstand the insult, but young grass is likely to die. If you are in a wooded area, I recommend defying the experts and planting in the spring. Be sure to hold off on chemicals to kill weeds until after the lawn has had 3 or 4 cuts, and is strong enough to withstand the treatments.
WEEDING AND WATERING… Just do the best you can. It’s tough to be motivated when it’s in the 90’s with high humidity.
The DROUGHT… July had very little rain, and we will probably be in store for more of the same in August. We will need to water our plants, but we should try to be a conservative as possible with our water use. I know most of us have learned to avoid watering in the evening to avoid mold and mildew developing on the foliage. When we experience extreme heat, sometimes an evening watering is actually the best way to go. At least the water will have a chance to soak into the soil without immediate evaporation by the sun. I frequently water between 6p-10p. If you have a timer, you can water at 3 or 4am. Remember, a thorough soaking for 15 – 30 minutes 2 times per week is much better than a brief spritz daily.