Pickaway to Garden
By Paul J. Hang
As a lot of my columns do they start with something I read. This time it was an article in the New York Times about a book from an English author. “The Therapeutic Power of Gardening” was the title of the article about the book “The Well Gardened Mind” by psychiatrist and psychotherapist Sue Stuart-Smith. Her husband is a well-known garden designer, Tom Stuart-Smith. Something he said struck home with me. How you feel about your garden, no matter how it looks, if you have a sort of in depth relationship with it, if you love it, it is good enough.
So, how is your garden doing? Have you had more time in it this year because of the imposed “leisure” time of the pandemic? Has it resulted in more time in the garden? It has for me. Have you gotten a little more intimate with some plants? Noticed more details? I was picking bush green beans the other day and noticed the very small pods beginning to form out of the blossoms. I had never noticed that before. We have a wild rabbit that began visiting our yard as a small bunny this spring. She (we are unsure of its gender) has a prominent white dot in the middle of “her” forehead. We have come to call her “Dotty.”
Dotty comes into the garden at times (I have fencing to protect certain plants) to munch on a plant or two and has become pretty tame. We are concerned about her as we have seen a red fox, stray dogs, neighbors “pet” cats (why don’t they keep them inside?) prowling around. We fear for Dotty and are delighted whenever she shows up. These kinds of things add to my gardening experience.
I enjoy the produce from the vegetable garden; My ‘Lord Baltimore’ hardy hibiscus was stunning. The day lilies seemed to last, not so the peonies, this year. My late blooming hydrangeas look like they are going to do well. I am just catching up with pruning my giant ninebark. The red twig dogwood is getting a much needed thinning. There are unfinished projects. Some areas are a mess. All in all my garden is good enough. I wish you the same
Things to do in the garden:
August is Tree Check month. Trees are valuable assets to your property and to our community. Fall is the best time to plant trees. For advice on what trees to plant and where to plant them, go to www.arborday.org or contact our City Tree Commission.. To gain an appreciation of our oldest living things see www.treesintrouble.com.
Pull all that crabgrass before it goes to seed. Take heart though, the first good frost will kill it. Water if we don’t get at least an inch of rain each week. Water at the base of the plant and do it in the morning. Water trees and shrubs planted in the past two years or if they look distressed.
You can still have a garden for food. Plant the seeds of green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage early in the month (plants can go in a little later). Direct-seed beets, carrots, lettuces, spinach, radishes, turnips, kale, kohlrabi and snap peas mid-month, for a fall garden. Harvest vegetables and herbs in the morning for best results. Keep the seeds and soil moist for best germination.
As plants die back clean up the debris so bad insects and disease don’t have a place to over- winter. This is particularly important for the vegetable garden. Some landscape plants, such as coneflowers and those with hollow stems, also native ornamental grasses, you may want to leave alone for seeds for wintering birds and insects and for visual winter interest. Put the debris of healthy plants in the compost bin, diseased plants in the trash.
Want to have a new garden next year? Now is a good time to prepare the site. Cover the area with black plastic, thick cover of newspaper or cardboard weighted down or even old carpet. Anything that will block the sun will leave bare earth come spring.
Disbud and fertilize your dahlias for bigger blooms. Side dress (fertilize) peonies with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Order spring bulbs and plant biennials. Divide, transplant or give away perennials that are overgrown and plant new container grown ones. Add new mulch where needed.
By the end of the month consider disbudding your tomato plants. Remove the growing tips of each branch and pinch out all the blossoms that bloom. It takes six weeks from blossom to fruit. This practice will give bigger tomatoes and prevent all those marble size tomatoes that the frost gets and never reach the table. If you’re not sure about this, try it on some of your plants and compare to those that you leave alone. Experiment! Try this also with melons and winter squash.
Tomatoes not ripening? Be patient, the plants are still growing and putting down roots not just ripening the fruit that has already set. Consider picking tomatoes before they are completely ripe. They will ripen off the vine if they still show a blush of green on an otherwise red, purple or yellow tomato. Totally ripe tomatoes still on the vine can burst with a glut of water from rain or the hose. They can be sampled by birds and mammals. Follow this advice and you will enjoy better tomatoes.
Monitor for pests. Think before you spray. Know your enemy. Use organic methods first. Remember, 97 percent of insects are either good or neutral for our gardens and landscape. As Joe Boggs, OSU Extension Educator recommends, use the digital method, in this digital age, to eliminate some bugs. You can squash them with your digits. That, coupled with the additional stomp technique can be quite effective and no bug species has developed a resistance to these tactics.
Need gardening advice? Call the Gardening Helpline at the OSU Extension Office 474-7534. Other resources are ohioline.osu.edu and, to read a weekly discussion of plant problems check out bygl.osu.edu. Buckeye Yard and Garden Line (bygl) is a real education.