University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer News Article


Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
Raising containers for better drainage, removing caterpillar tents from trees, and removing perennial flowers after bloom are some of the gardening tips for this month.

To allow good drainage in your container plantings, raise the pots off the ground or deck so water can seep out the drainage holes. This also will reduce the staining that can occur when pots sit directly on wooden steps or a deck. You can purchase pot feet from garden supply stores, or make your own using flat stones of similar size, rubber bumpers from the hardware store, or even old checkers from the game you never play anymore. Anything that will elevate the pot a bit should work. Bricks work well for containers on the ground.

Check apple, cherry, and other fruit trees for the white webbed tents of caterpillars, and poke them with a broom handle or long-handled pruners to break open the tent and expose the caterpillars to foraging birds. Or knock the tent to the ground and destroy the caterpillars. A spray of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) will kill the exposed insects, too, just make sure you get the right strain labeled for these pests, and as with any pesticide follow all label directions and cautions.

Examine your yard for areas with standing water, such as old tires or upturned garbage can lids, and dump them. Mosquitoes breed in these types of places, so by removing them you'll get a head start on controlling the pests. Use "mosquito dunks" in ponds. These disks contain a specific strain of Bt that controls the mosquito larvae. 
The fruiting of tomatoes and peppers is improved by applying Epsom salts, which contains sulfur and magnesium. Apply one tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of one tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set. 

Once early summer perennials, such as peonies and foxgloves, have finished blooming, take the time to clip off the spent flowers to spare the plant the energy it would spend on forming seeds.  If you plan to save the seed and do some propagating of your own, leave some seedheads until they turn dry and collect the seeds before the wind and the birds get to them.

Sow new crops of beets, carrots, and summer lettuce to extend the harvest. You don't need much space, you can sow a border around other vegetables. If possible, choose a spot that's partially shaded by taller plants for sowing lettuce, so it will stay cooler.

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers can use some nutrients now, so scratch some granular fertilizer into the soil around plants or in a shallow trench alongside a row. Do this when the soil is already moist, and then water it in.
Begin the early-morning or early-evening patrols for Japanese beetles and knock them into a can of soapy water. You can also hold a bucket under a plant that's hosting a beetle party and gently shake a branch and the beetles will fall into the bucket. Forget trying to catch them midday because they move too fast in the heat. If using Japanese beetle traps, don’t place them near desirable plants (for the beetles) as they will munch heavily on their way to the traps.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist, author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; 

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