July 2009
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

More Pole Beans

You can get another whole crop of pole beans in the ground for fall picking. Kentucky Wonder, an all-time favorite, starts bearing in about two months, so you can pick through September and October and even into November in South Alabama. Soak the seeds overnight so they will sprout quickly and water the seedbed every day due to the heat. Be on the lookout for Mexican bean beetles, especially on the young plants.

Vitex and Bee Balm Can Bloom Again

  Mexican Bean Beetle

If you trim the tips of vitex branches back after they bloom, they will bloom again. The second bloom will be just in time for the hummingbird migration in late summer and early fall. If you don’t have a pole pruner to reach up into the tree, that might be reason enough to get one. Bee balm (Monarda) is another plant that will bloom again if you remove the old blooms after they fade. This one you can do with hand pruners. Just clip off the blossoms after they fade.

Are You a Fan of Ladybugs?

Over the past 20 years, several native ladybug species once very common are harder to find. At the same time, several imported species of ladybugs have increased in numbers and range, often replacing the natives. Scientists are studying this phenomenon trying to understand this shift and what impact it will have. Will the exotic species help control pests as well as the native ones always have? Part of the effort is engaging people around the country to photograph ladybugs they see in their gardens and sending pictures to Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug project. (Hint: Cool the ladybug in your fridge to slow it down for photography.) You can learn more about it at Cornell’s Lost Ladybug Project webpage: http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/icb344/LostLadybugProject.htm.


Grow your own bay tree.


Exotic Bay Tree

Do you cook with bay leaves? If so, there is a way to create your own continual supply—grow it at home. The bay we use for seasoning, Laurus nobilis, is hardy outdoors in South Alabama, where it can grow into a tall shrub. Elsewhere, you can grow it in a container to move to the garage or indoors for winter. The evergreen leaves are very dark green and beautiful. It will take sun to partial shade.

Give Knockouts a Boost, Too

Knockout roses bloom with little care

Seems like everything appreciates a little help in summer, including Knockout roses. Your Knockouts will bloom well without a lot of fuss, but they will bloom better with a little water and fertilizer about now. You can also trim the tops of the plants to encourage new growth on which the buds will set.

You’ll Either Love It or Think It’s Foolish

This door to a wooded path in the garden of a well-known Philadelphia garden designer adds a touch of whimsy and color in an expansive garden including wooded trails. The frame sits on a concrete base to keep if from rotting and is anchored by metal posts hidden in the sides. Wonder how many of these I’ll be seeing in the future?

A whimsical door to the garden.


Help Reblooming Daylilies Along

If you own Stella d’Oro and other reblooming daylilies, you must give them some extra water and fertilizer to see them bloom well again. Use a liquid plant food in a hose-end sprayer or sprinkle them with a slow-release granular fertilizer. Daylilies are rugged plants, but the reblooming hybrids have a hunger for more water and fertilizer than the old-fashioned types. Summer is a good time to mark daylilies if you need to move colors around in the garden. As long as you keep them watered, you can even dig and divide them now.

Trellis cucumbers to avoid mildew.

Another Crop of Cucumbers?

If you’re cucumber plants have given out, you can start seeds again for a late summer and fall crop. They will sprout up quickly in the warm soil —- just keep it moist. Grow them on a trellis to give the leaves better air circulation to keep them dry and avoid mildew.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.