The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The glossy beauty of summer begonias – The shiny round leaves of the unusual begonia is worth planting every summer, but the tiny delicate white, pink, red, and deep rose flowers that continually bloom all the way until frost are an extra bonus to add to its leafy beauty. This great floral masterpiece can also be taken to a sunny area inside the home and share its color all winter long.

Keeping a bail of Pete Moss to enrich the soil, add texture, retain moisture – We like to call it the miracle elixir of the garden for vegetables as well as flowers for a lot of reasons. It is an economical product at around $11 for a 3.5 cubic foot bail. It improves every green thing it comes in contact with and it is a totally organic product. It blends with soil and it gives new texture to any type of soil. It helps newly planted seeds and plants retain moisture. By being totally organic, Pete Moss enriches soil and enhance growth of all flowers and vegetables.

Staying ahead of the weed games – The plants and vegetables of warm weather are now in competition with the emerging weeds of summer. You help stay ahead of many of them by pulling them up and throwing them out of the garden plot before they develop a deep root system or develop any seed pods. Weeds like lambs quarter, Bermuda grass, and morning glories have deep roots and is easier to get rid of in the earlier stages of growth by just simply pulling it up by the roots. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of plants and vegetables so that they can retain moisture and develop a strong root system.

If you plant it, it will grow – As we reach into the middle of June, the odds are very good that all warm weather vegetable planted now will thrive and grow in the warm garden soil in the warm and comfortable nights that will encourage growth. Green beans, lima beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, okra, will grow quickly. Corn definitely needs to be planted soon to allow time to mature before autumn. If you plant corn now, you need to consider a 65 to 75 day variety such as early sun glow or golden Bantam.

Planting a row of baby llama beans – Summer begins next week and with warm days and nights, baby limas will grow quickly because they love warm soil and also the warmth of summer nights. A pound cost about three dollars and more sow a 50 foot row or two 4 x 8‘ raised beds. They mature in about 65 to 70 days and are good for making a meal garnished with fresh diced tomatoes or to season a pot of noodles or dumplings. You can choose from Ford hook 242, Henderson bush, or Dixie Butterpea. Spread seed about an inch apart in a furrow about 3 inches deep, covered with a layer of Pete Moss, water the seed and Pete Moss and cover with soil and tamp down with a hoe blade. After they germinate, hill soil up on both sides for support and moisture retention.

Keeping a wary are on crafty chicken hawks – If the birds on the lawn suddenly get nervous and restless and continually chirp excitedly, you can bet there is a chicken hawk in the area. A hawk can swoop down and grab a bird in his crooked beak and fly away. Most birds protect themselves by ganging up on a hawk and chasing him away. Many birds will just do a disappearing act and hide themselves until the hawk gives up and leaves. We are glad they have a built in fear of this crafty bird.

The useful magic of a water wand – The water wand is one of the gardeners most versatile and useful implements. You can place a shower of water just where it is required without wasting water in the middle of the row. The wand has many settings from mist to sprinkle, to shower and also a stream setting for watering seed and transplants and putting water in the furrow or hole. A water wand will last for many seasons and cost about $15. They can be found at Home Depot, Lowes home-improvement, and most hardware and seed shops.

The guns of early summer are needed – The garden plot depends on the sudden summer thunderstorm to cool off steaming plants and give a quick shot of refreshment to thirsty vegetable crops. Nothing smells better than the aftermath of an evening thunder shower that perks up lawns, trees, and gardens.

The reward of an afternoon thunderstorm – An afternoon thunderstorm also has another award in the form of a colorful rainbow that glows in the eastern sky. The most beautiful rainbows are when the eastern sky is still a dark shade of gray and the rainbow has a pretty glow about it making all seven of its colors stand out against a dark background.

Fireflies light up early summer evenings – We certainly hope this will be a summer of plentiful fireflies. Some summers just produce more fireflies then others. We have noticed that with more days of rain and thunderstorms, it increases the presence of fireflies. The most fireflies we have ever seen was on the Colonial Parkway in Jamestown, Virginia about 15 years ago. The whole sky seemed to be lit up and their display was even more brilliant because on the parkway, there are no streetlights or businesses or shops – just natural darkness. It was so majestic that we with no traffic on the parkway, we turned off our car lights and just admired them for a minute or two. You might say it was a “firefly moment!”

Start a packet of bright sun flowers – The summer sun and 24 hour warm soil makes a packet of sunflowers grow very quickly. The packet cost around two dollars and they come in all sizes. The smaller varieties will not blow over like the larger ones. They can be planted in a row or plant them individually in different locations or planted one or two in the flower bed. They are bright, colorful, and will attract many birds.

Highlighting the 2018 Dragon Wing Begonia – We started this weeks column describing the color and gloss of summer begonias. A great new begonia for 2018 is the Dragon Wing Begonia with huge wing-shaped leaves about five or six inches in length an extra large hot pink blooms. They require very little water because it’s huge leaves shade the soil.

Ray Baird