Things You Can Do In Your Garden Now

It is kind of rainy and drizzly here this morning.  We had planned to go to a u-pick strawberry farm, but the weather put a damper on that.  Instead, I think that I will do a few little clean-up type tasks around the garden today.  These are the things that I will try to accomplish in between rain showers (at least I don’t have to water today):

  • Deadhead and fertilize the roses:  This is an ongoing project throughout the summer months.  It is easy to do, and it helps to keep your rose bushes flowering throughout the bloom season.  You will need garden pruners and a bucket.  It is easy to get scratched while doing this, so wear long sleeves and garden gloves to protect your skin, and always wear eye protection when pruning shrubs–little pieces can easily break off and you do not want them in your eyes–trust me, I know from experience.  Or you can get a ‘Zephrin Drouhin’ thornless climbing rose–it is a beauty with deep pink blooms.  Simply look at the plant, and anywhere there is a dead rose blossom, cut it off. I like to take my cut down to the nearest 5-leafed stem, and cut just above the five-leafed stem.  This way the growth hormones of the rose will produce another bloom there.  You can also cut off any dead, broken, or diseased stems off.  Place all this in your bucket and do not put in the compost pile if there are diseased plant parts present, but put in the trash can instead.  I will also be fertilizing all my roses.  I do this once a month during bloom time, and I use Miracle Grow, but you could use any good rose fertilizer as well.
  • Deadhead the clematis as needed and fertilize them:  I fertilize them, along with the roses, once a month with Miracle Grow, but they respond well to rose fertilizer as well.  Some clematis will rebloom if deadheaded.  I do this with my burgundy ‘Niobe’ and purple ‘Daniel Deronda’ clematis.  My late spring-blooming clematis are still blooming because spring was delayed here due to cold weather, but after they are done, they can be pruned back and fertilized for rebloom in the fall.  It could be tricky this year because they were late in blooming, so it might make rebloom in fall come too late with colder weather.  Would have to play it by ear on this idea this year.
  • Stake and weed beds; remove fading bulb foliage:  It seems like staking and weeding is a neverending process during the growing season.  Bulb foliage that is yellowed can be removed from the beds.  It is also time to add some compost to where your bulbs grow.  This will help to improve the tilth of the soil, and depending on the potency of your compost, may give a bit of a light feeding.  Those bulbs will be beginning to store up food for next spring’s blooms, so you can help them do so by giving them a bit of compost now.
  • Plant a basket container:  I ended up with a cylindrical dark brown basket that I no longer use indoors, but I thought if I lined it with a plastic bag, it would make an interesting container for plants.  I still have burgundy and green coleus starts that I grew from seed, and I have quite a few ferns that tend to appear on their own without any help from me in various spots on our property, so they will go into the basket.
  • Clean and fill bird feeders:  I have a roofed tray feeder that many types of birds really like, because they can see into it and fly through it.  In this I put black-oil sunflower seed in the shell, which many birds like.  I found that if I use the cheaper kinds that are full of millet, they push all the millet out of the feeder in their search for the apparently tastier sunflower seeds, and millet makes a mess under the feeder because it grows into a matting grass that I don’t like.  The hummingbird feeder will also be cleaned and refilled today as well.  I have a great feeder that is made of glass and plastic, and it has a wide mouth so I can put a soapy sponge all the way down to the bottom to get it really clean.  I also try to cleanse it by placing 1 capful of bleach into a sinkful of water, and letting the bird feeder soak in that for a minute or two.  You could also use hydrogen peroxide in the same amount if you don’t like bleach.  Then I rinse it well and fill it with nectar that I make using four parts sugar and one part water in a pot on the stove, which I let gently boil for only 5 minutes with the lid on, then remove from heat.  After it cools a bit, I strain it using a paper coffee filter in a funnel, and store it in a closed jar in the refrigerator.  No food coloring is needed.  I clean my feeder 2-3 times per week, but you could do it more, especially if the weather gets really hot.
  • I had planned to chop the bigger, bulkier stuff that has not broken down in my compost pile, but that plan is averted due to rain.  It clogs up my little chopper something fierce to try to run wet matter through it.  Will wait till it is all dried out again.

I always get motivation to make the garden look nice when I have company coming over, and in fact we’re having guests over tomorrow night for dinner, and hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can eat outside under the pergola!  I’ve been so busy getting the vegetable garden in that the flowers tend to take second place at this time of year, but I will try to whip things into shape a bit.  Also I like entertaining outside because I don’t have to clean the whole house prior to guests arriving, just the rooms they will likely see, like the bathroom and kitchen, so it’s a little easier to accomplish.  My husband accuses me of being Martha Stewart’s sister when it comes to perfectionism in entertaining, and I am trying to curb my unhealthy ways by throwing more small and impromptu dinners that I don’t have to stress over, which is more fun for me as well, and so the outdoor pergola helps in this regard as well.  My office is right near the pergola, so I want to try to come up with some fun youtube music playlists and then I can open the window and put my speaker into it, so we can have some nice music playing while we eat–we’ll see how far I get on that project.

We have our first raspberries ripe and ready to eat!  Just a few, more will come as the season progresses.  Lots of sugar snap peas still as well, so they may play a role in the dinner I have in mind for tomorrow.  My huge ‘Bill McKenzie’ summer-blooming clematis is starting to bloom–yellow bell-shaped blossoms, blooming at the same time as my purple ‘Jackmanii’ clematis–good timing this year!  Here is a picture of Bill:

Weather reports for next week show that it is supposed to go up into the 90s–I will believe it when I see it, but a girl can dream, right?

Please leave a comment–do you have some great tips for easy outdoor entertaining?  I’d love to learn!

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