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Summer gardening guidelines
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April showers bring May flowers! In the case of this year, this is very true. Around Hall County, we have seen the most beautiful show of azaleas we have had in years and it won’t be long before the rhododendrons and peonies will put on a delightful show.

As we approach the summer, a few tips can keep your garden healthy and happy throughout the warmer days ahead.

Remember, the foundation of a healthy garden is rich, fertile soil. Without it, growing ornamental plants and vegetables will not thrive and reach their potential.

When planting this season, amend the soil with compost and organic materials to help with nutrition and water drainage.

Established plants need a little TLC, too. Give them the recommended fertilization in the growing season and inspect them regularly for fungal and insect issues. If you get a jump start now by scouting your landscape, it is easier to control the problem before it gets out of hand and affects the plants’ overall health.

Using products such as insecticidal soap frequently in the early stages will work well. But if the problem persists, you will have to resort to stronger chemical measures.

I can never talk about mulching enough. The benefits of mulching include keeping the roots cool and moist and protecting plants from the many fungal disease spores that live in the soil. The mulch acts as a barrier between the soil and plant, so when it rains or is being watered, the fungal diseases are not splashed onto the plants foliage.

Many gardeners do not realize mulching a vegetable garden is just as important as mulching other plants. Vegetables benefit from mulching, especially during the hot, dry summer conditions.

When watering plants, always remember a good soaking at ground level is the best way to water. This is especially true with garden vegetables. Overhead watering can leave water on the leaves which may contribute to a myriad of diseases. Always lay soaker hoses or water from a watering wand close to the base of a plant for best results. Dry leaves keep a plant healthy and happy. Also, watering in the early morning hours or late afternoon provides the best results for good water retention.

Pollination is very important in early spring for most flowering plants and vegetables. Don’t forget how this happens. It is very important to attract pollinators to your yard through the use of various plants. The Extension office can provide a complete list of many pollinator plants in this area.

Many bees and insects are good pollinators, so be careful when spraying insecticides. Protection of bees and other pollinators is vital for flower and fruit production. Always spray insecticides in the late afternoon and evening when bees are not foraging and have returned to their hives.

Last but not least, if there is a problem with a plant or veggie needing identification, bring a sample to the extension office, email a picture or call. We are here to help keep your garden happy and healthy. And we can provide information if you have a problem you can’t answer on your own.

Enjoy your gardens as they begin to flower and produce!

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension.
Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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