Summertime brings on the weeds, bugs, heat

Published 10:17 am Monday, June 22, 2015

The Joyful Gardener
Good morning, gardeners!
Saturday was the first day of summer. Two awful weeds here are tall thistles and Johnson grass. All weeds thrive on neglect.
With July and August rapidly approaching, weeds must be managed now lest there be a larger number of them next year. Weeds love hot, dry or wet ground. When weather warms into the 90s, weeds grow faster in order to make seed for next year.
If you lack time to dig roots of weeds consider a choice. Most weeds are annuals, and are killed by a hard frost, but they reseed themselves to survive winter and return next year.
Use clippers and trim weeds back to about six inches, thereby removing the seed before it scatters, thus preventing them from coming up again. Cut them back, and then place head first into a bag. When the bag is full dispose of seed stems off the property.
Once weeds are cut way back or dug, the ground is ready for new mulch. Seed cannot sprout without light and air. Therefore, keeping weed seed in the dark helps with control. The purpose of mulch is to maintain soil in a moist condition and control weeds. Mulch also ties flowerbeds together with a uniform color of mulch.
There are many kinds of mulch on the market at various prices. The larger the pieces of mulch, the longer it will last. Any mulch that does not biodegrade gives nothing back to the earth as nourishment. One such mulch is old tires that have been shredded and chopped. It is far better to use pine needles, shredded bark, and many other choices that rot back into the earth as nourishment.
New on the market is a mulch trialing in my garden. “Preen Mulch Plus” is produced from natural wood fibers and bark with the weed preventer Preen in the mulch. Now as flowerbeds are cleaned of thistles and other weeds, gently rake the earth and apply Preen Mulch only two inches deep, rather than the usual three inches with other mulches. No mulch should be closer to the main stem of a plant than six inches. It is guaranteed to prevent many weeds for up to six months. While it may not control all weeds everywhere, it may help many gardeners.
The manufacturer recommends using Preen Mulch Plus on well-established shrubbery plantings that are growing nicely, not newly planted specimens. Preen Mulch Plus is not for use on vegetable gardens. Check the internet: Preen Mulch Plus.
Bugs get worse in summertime. Make natural bug killers and deterrents by pureeing garlic bulbs in a blender with 2 cups water and straining into a jar. Then dilute the mixture by micing with one gallon of water into a sprayer. Always test a spray on a tiny segment of vegetables before doing the entire crop. Dwarf marigolds planted around vegetable beds help deter bugs. Handpick bugs into a bucket of hot soapy water. Homemade bug controls are best. Happy Gardening Everyone.

Jeanne Cope; Freelance Garden Writer; Appears monthly on TV Channel 11, Daytime TriCities; UT Lifetime Master Gardener; Email: Jeanne @ Jeanne

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