Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dog Days And Garden Troubles Down South

By Keith Markensen

Dog days are here the days when the heat closes in, when dogs and gardeners are supposed to be especially likely to go mad.

And reasons aplenty! Conditions are as near perfect as at any time during the year for the spreading of fungus diseases. Black spot, mildew, rust, brown patch, dollar spot and the various and sundry wilts all propagate and spread like a prairie fire unless the gardener is alert to their presence and acts quickly to combat them. Fortunately this danger period is relatively short. Many fungicides are readily available, easy and economical to use, Captan is favored by many gardeners Certain sucking insects, prey on shrubs at this time, namely spider mites (red spiders) and lace wing bugs. Both of these can be controlled by spraying with malathion.

Annuals and Perennials

Every gardener knows that keeping old faded blooms removed will stimulate more bloom. With petunias, alyssum, verbenas and snapdragons a severe pinching back will result in a very rewarding, new crop of flowers for the late garden. Short day annuals like zinnias, tithonias and marigolds can be planted from seed now to give satisfactory returns as late summer flowers.

Start seeds of pansy and English daisy in protected areas now for transplanting later. Lemon yellow and orange calendulas are also both good in most parts of the South, especially if given a little winter protection. Have you ever tried beds of pansies in solid colors? For a new thrill with pansies try all white, yellow or blue in double rows as borders in large pansy beds. The massed effect is very stimulating. Try to get pansies planted in permanent locations by October, They can be depended on for much winter color,

Start seeds now of biennials and perennials for next years crop. Protect them from hot dry winds and direct sunshine. Delphinium seeds germinate better at about 60 degrees.

Three old dependable perennials, iris, daylily and peony, need attention now. Do not be over-anxious to divide mature clumps unless there is a definite slow down in quantity and quality of blooming like the night blooming cereus. August is the accepted time for blooming cereus and dividing mature clumps. In dividing, remove all old foliage that will wither away, and for cereus plant only the healthiest divisions. Irises should be planted with so little soil over them that when the soil settles the rhizomes will he slightly exposed. Be on the alert for evidence of rot.

Daylily tubers should be well set with the growing point covered. With peonies the growing points should be covered with about an inch of soil. One teacup of Superphosphate dug around each mature clump of peonies will stimulate bud formation for another year. This month give the chrysanthemums the final pinch if they are being grown for pompons, but continue pinching if they are standards. Allow buds to set by early September and feeding with liquid fertilizer until color shows in the bud.

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