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Thursday, June 8, 2006 02:32 pm

Things to do in June

Some gardening tips to get through the first month of summer

This past weekend we were blessed with sunshine and warm temperatures. I took advantage of the lovely weather to spend a day planting impatiens, trimming oregano, and pulling weeds, weeds, and more weeds. Here are a few general tips to keeping your garden in shape this month. Inspect all plants on a regular basis for insect, diseases, and other sources of injury. It is easier to control an emerging problem than to eradicate one that has taken over an entire plant. Fence garden areas where rabbits have been dining. A 2-foot-tall poultry-wire fence should deter the cottontailed critters. Keep weeds under control. Weeds are easier to pull when they are small and young. Need motivation? Remember, one year of seeds equals seven years of weeds! Deadhead — that is, remove spent flowers from — annuals and roses; remove flower stalks from peonies and irises and remove dead foliage from spring-flowering bulbs. Stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb around mid-June, allowing foliage to develop and build food reserves for next year; continue to plant carrots, green beans, and sweet corn for successive harvests. To ensure good fruit production, renovate June-bearing strawberry plants after harvest. A strawberry patch will continue to be productive for three or four years, as long as the planting is maintained. The first step in the renovation process is to mow the old foliage, cutting the leaves about an inch above the crowns. Fertilize with 1 pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Narrow the rows to 6 to 12 inches wide by hoeing or tilling. Thin the plants in the narrowed row so that 4 to 6 inches of space remains between plants, and also be sure to remove all weeds. Supply an inch of water per week to promote growth, especially new runners for next year’s crop. If your apple tree had a heavy bloom season this year, remove excess fruits. This is best done during the first part of June. Leave only the largest apple per cluster, and space the apples about 6 inches apart. Thinning is essential for good-sized apples at harvest and for the development of fruit buds for next year’s crop. Most turfgrasses should be mowed to a height of 2 to 3 inches; this means mowing when grass is 3 to 4 inches tall. Remove no more than a third of the grass blade in a single mowing as a means of maintaining root growth. Maintaining turfgrass at the proper height will deter weed-seed germination by shading the soil surface. If you’re doing your mowing at the proper time and grass height, allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn. Sharpen your lawnmower blades, if you have not already done so. Blades should be sharpened at least twice a year: A sharp blade will make a clean cut, decreasing stress on the plant. Bagworms attack a wide range of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs (128 plant species), including arborvitae, juniper, Eastern red cedar, spruce, fir, pine, maple, box elder, linden, crabapple, hackberry, oak, and black locust, so be sure to check trees and shrubs for bagworm caterpillars. If you use insecticides, apply them about two weeks after eggs hatch. In central Illinois, this generally occurs in middle to late June. Too-early insecticide application usually results in the need for a second application. Remember, Japanese beetles will be making their return soon, generally middle to late June. Adult Japanese beetles — metallic green, with coppery wings — are three-eighths to half-an-inch long. They feed heavily on linden, birch, crabapple, rose, grape, brambles, willow, buckeye, and many other trees and shrubs. Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the root systems of trees and shrubs. If possible, apply mulch out to the dripline of a tree, at least 3 feet out from the trunk. Avoid mulching up to the trunk. Mulching helps conserve soil moisture, reduces weed growth, and keeps lawnmowers and weed-whackers away from the trunk. Once blooms have faded, prune spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs and forsythias. If rainfall is lacking, water newly planted trees and shrubs every seven to 10 days. Now, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

ROSE PROGRAM University of Illinois Extension master gardeners will present a program on “Summer Care of Roses” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15. Pruning, watering, fertilizing, and insect and disease control will be discussed. The demonstration, which will last 30 minutes, will be followed by a question-and-answer session. The free program will be held in the demonstration gardens in front of the University of Illinois Extension Building, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. For information, call the Sangamon-Menard Extension Unit at 217-782-4617.
FLORAL DESIGN TO MUSIC A program titled “Floral Design to Music” will be presented at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 24, by Dianne Noland, host and producer of the WILL-TV show Illinois Gardener. Noland, a horticulture instructor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will interpret some favorite music by creating beautiful floral designs. The event, which is sponsored by the Sangamon County Association for Home and Community Education, will be held at the University of Illinois Extension Building. Registration, which costs $8, is due by June 14. Call 217-523-0445 to reserve your seat.
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