June 2014
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

 
Still waiting for the allamanda vine beneath it to grow, this pot has plenty of color because of the painted stakes made of bamboo  

Painted Bamboo Stakes

Bamboo on a property can really be a nuisance, but if you happen to need some stakes to support vines or other plants, it comes in mighty handy. Some of our bamboo stakes are several years old. They hold up well, even exposed to year-round weather. This idea for painting bamboo stakes is from the Birmingham Botanical Garden, where the stakes are able to add their own bit of color independent of what will be growing on them. To paint your own stakes, use outdoor latex house paint if you want it to last.

Window Dressing

I would have never guessed how much a simple little hanging vase could add to our kitchen window. It provides an easy spot to pluck seasonal flowers and foliage from the garden on the spot anytime and it always works, and always without planning. We use it for stems of aspidistra, leucothoe, camellia or ferns, clippings from Lenten rose, roses, impatiens, salvia and other flowers such as these fragrant lilies. It has even held vegetable foliage such as Swiss chard and kale in the winter. If it’s in the garden and will live in water, this vase has seen it. A gift from our daughter-in-law, it has become one of the most used items in the house. If you have a chance to try something like this in your kitchen window, I recommend it. It’s always fast, easy and spontaneous, depending on what the garden is giving at the time.

Snack-sized Sweet Peppers

There is still time to include delicious snacking peppers in your garden from transplants. These sweet little peppers, each eaten in two or three bites, are great lunchbox and picnic items. Because they are small, sweet and colorful, people are often at least willing to try them, especially if they grow the peppers themselves. These little peppers are usually expensive at the grocery store, so one or two plants in the garden are a treat. Be sure to keep them well watered for best production. They may start slow, but will load up with fruit as the heat begins to lift at night in late summer.

Easy Flowers from Seed

There is a simple little task that you can do now that will make you very glad you did in a few weeks. That is to sow a few flowers from seed. These are types that come up very easily this time of year – zinnia, sunflower, tithonia, cleome, marigold and cosmos. They will give bees some fresh pollen in late summer and fall, and give you some nice color for the garden or to snip and bring indoors. Rough up the ground, sprinkle the seeds on top, and pat them into the ground gently before watering with a fine spray. Keep the seedbed moist for the next few days, and you will soon see the young plants popping up from the ground. Most begin blooming in about two months and continue until frost.

 
  A strip of duct tape easily lifts the eggs of squash bugs from plants without damaging the foliage.

Duct Tape for Squash Bugs?

A member of the Bonnie Plants Facebook community shared their inventive way of collecting squash bug eggs – pull them off with duct tape! Notorious for laying large patches of eggs that hatch by the dozens, squash bugs can quickly kill a mature plant by sucking it dry. They especially like winter squash and pumpkins. Killing these pests is difficult, but if you can get the eggs before they hatch, you’re way ahead. Working a little like a lint roller, a strip of duct tape will lift the eggs off the leaves which allows you to remove them easily without damaging any leaf tissue. The eggs are oval shaped, shiny and copper colored. They are usually in clusters on the underside of the leaves. Happy hunting!

Instant Color

Are you looking for big plants for instant color in flowerbeds or to put into containers? If so, there are more and more of them available as growers produce flowering plants in larger sizes for later planting. However, if you don’t find what you want in gallon or larger containers at the nursery, look at the hanging baskets. Plants growing in baskets can be easily transplanted from their basket to another container or the ground.

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