What were you doing at 3:43 pm on Saturday, June 20? Saturday was the summer solstice, which means that the earth was tilting towards the sun the very most that it can, and the sun was the highest in the sky, making it the longest day. After that time, the tilt changes and the days begin to become, yes, we have to say it, shorter. We won’t see that happen for a while, but in about four or five weeks we’ll have almost half an hour less of daylight each day. But gardeners, we still have months of glorious gardening time ahead of us, so let’s focus on that!
Tiptoe out into your garden. Quietly. Is something lurking out there among the plants? Some gardeners are having problems this year with something eating the tender new growth of garden plants: peas, Swiss chard, lettuce. What do you suppose it is? I asked some gardening friends if they had any ideas who the munching culprits are. Some think it is the birds. If so, great advice given to me was that we should put shallow dishes of water out among our plants. With such a dry year, the birds are having a hard time finding the moisture they need so they nibble the greenery. Good advice and one we should do regardless, just to help the beautiful birds. One ambitious gardener was putting chicken wire over the plants that were being attacked. Garden mesh is also available.
Someone else told me they thought that the problem was with certain moths that are flitting through our gardens. A floating row cover may be the answer. I tried to do some homework about how we can get rid of moths, but remember, not every moth is a bad moth, and not every caterpillar will turn into a bad moth. Some will turn into beautiful butterflies that we are trying so hard to coax into our gardens. So please do not head out there with the idea of ridding your garden of every moth. The floating row cover or netting may be a safer solution.
Are there signs of slugs among your hostas? Torn or shredded leaves? Hard to believe, but even in the dry conditions, they are out there! A gardening friend who has absolutely beautiful hostas gave this advice: “Hostas love mulch but so do the slugs. It gives them the perfect place to hide. One of the friendly ways to deal with them is to push the mulch away from the hosta and surround it with broken egg shells or diatomaceous earth. The sharp edges cut their bodies as they slither over them. You can also use a flashlight at night to hand pick them or sprinkle them with salt.”
Another gardener was troubled by cutworms. This pesky pest attacks our plants from below, and by the time we know they are there, they have already done some damage and felled a beautiful plant. If you have had a cutworm sighting or see evidence of their presence, you might want to make collars for your plants. You can make them with folded paper, or even by cutting up a toilet paper or paper towel roll. Just be sure to bury the paper at least half an inch below the soil line. If you’re making scrambled eggs for breakfast, save the egg shells, crush them, and scatter them around the stems of your plants, or again, try diatomaceous earth.
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will now be taking the summer off, and hopefully we will have good news about upcoming meetings by fall. We’re also sorry to announce that our Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Show in August has been cancelled. But things must get better, and once again, we’ll hope for next year! Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca and see what’s new with the group.
Have a good week and be sure to wear a hat!