This week has been hot, humid and hazy. The “hot and humid” is pretty typical for Indiana in mid-July, but the “hazy” is smoke from the western wildfires. That’s hard for me to fathom, but the faint trace of smoke is unmistakable and our local news reports that it is from the 83 raging wildfires, so it must be true. Regardless of the heat, there are tasks that need to be completed. First on this week’s list was pruning the lavenders, which have finished blooming. It’s important to prune just after the plants bloom so they don’t put a lot of energy into forming seed. Plus pruning too late can cause problems with overwintering. So, a morning was spent pruning each plant into a rounded form, and removing any weeds that were in the area. Here’s the plant afterwards.
I could have pruned them a little deeper, but since it’s so very hot I decided not to put any more stress on them. After that task, I decided I needed a job in the shade, so it was off to the Front Island.
I love the viburnum in the center of the Front Island, and on impulse purchased another variety but that meant a six foot extension had to be dug on the east end. The shrub was planted, and then I just looked at it for a couple of days, debating on what to add to the new space. In the end, plants still on the “to be planted somewhere” bench were selected. First, a Ladies Mantle that I purchased way back at our May garden club plant sale went in. Then a few overcrowded daffodils from the Deck Garden were dug up and replanted here. And over those, leftover annuals were added. The end result was this.
I always seed too many coleus, because their seed is like dust. But, it seems they always find a home somewhere. I’m a late-to-appreciate convert to coleus, but once I discovered these “Gold Wizard” plants, and how easy they are from seed I became a huge fan. The real beauty of these plants is that they provide a blast of instant color from the moment they germinate until frost. And, their bright foliage brightens an area even when they aren’t in bloom. Even the reliable shasta daisies can’t do that! They work well in sun or shade, in borders or containers. Also into the area went a few leftover “Cupcake White” cosmos and some “Jasmine Scented” nicotiana. I don’t know if either will be happy under black walnuts, but if they are that’s great. Maybe they will even self-seed and return next year, but if they are not happy then I will have learned something yet again, and that’s what makes gardening extra fun, isn’t it? A good watering-in and a tidy layer of mulch completed this project.
Moving on to a project that definitely needed doing, and with mulch still on the truck, it was past time to tackle the black currants and gooseberries. The currants still had the tomato cage and mesh to deter deer and rabbits which makes mowing and weeding impossible, and the weeds had them very shaded and crowded. This project was going to take a while, so some shade for the gardener was required. Here’s my set-up.
An umbrella duct-taped to my favorite digging fork provides an easy-to-move portable shade structure. It makes a tremendous difference! After removing the mesh and cages, all the weeds were pulled within the row, and the weeds and grass trimmed along the row. Then a layer of cardboard was fitted between the plants, and mulch added. Now, some folks might just trim off the weeds rather than pull them before laying on cardboard, but I think that’s like sweeping dirt under the rug so I try to get out as many of the roots as I can. It definitely makes it a longer project, but I’ve found that short cuts often just don’t work out well.
Gave them a good watering before the cardboard and mulch. The far end has two gooseberry plants, and then the blackberries begin. Once the six tubs of weeds were put in the woods (too many weed seeds to go into compost) and the tools put away, I gave myself a little reward.
After watching the black raspberries along the woods wither, I’ve kept the blackberries watered and here’s the results…lots of big berries coming on. There was only a handful that were ripe, but I certainly felt fully justified in eating them after marking off the last job on this week’s list. And, it’s only FRIDAY! I’m sure I can find something to do…let’s see, there’s beans to pick, cucumbers to pickle, peas to harvest, bouquets to make, and new seedlings to water but that won’t take long. Maybe I’ll make some lemon verbena ice cream! Now that’s a big reward!
I have learned the hard way that weeding under the soft fruit bushes before the fruit ripens makes picking much easier and less painful. But it is a big job. Sadly they are in very stony soil so digging the weeds out is impossible – a good clip now then in the Autumn they will get another, a good feed of muck, cardboard and hopefully some nicer looking mulch on top. It seems to work – harvests are good.
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I’m thinking this is the last year I pamper those black currants and gooseberries. They’ve been in the ground for four years, and I’ve yet to get a berry!!! They flower so darn early, that even with covering they always get their blooms frosted. I’ll give them heavier covering earlier next spring but if I get nothing…they are on their own after that!
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Sometimes you just have to accept that plants cannot thrive in your conditions! Shame though!
Goodness gracious! You’re a workaholic in the garden. I used to be, too, but age and an over-strained back have put a stop to that. Right now I’m paying dearly for overdoing it last Saturday. Phooey.
I’m old (73) but I’ve learned the hard way to alternate jobs and pace myself…especially with my hands, knees and back. So, I’ll do a sit-down job for a while, then a lifting or pulling job, then a sit down, then watering, etc. so I don’t overdo. Sometimes I even set the timer on my phone to remind me it’s time to use different muscles! Sorry to hear you overdid…know what it’s like. We don’t recover from it as fast as we once did, do we?
My garden is along the side of my house for the most part, so for weeding I use a canopy tent with no sides, half height since I’m on my knees anyway, and I run a garage fan on a long extension cord out there and blow it on me. Makes it much more pleasant, and it lets me weed in hot weather.
Your blackberries look so happy! It’s the second year for mine, so I only have a handful of berries ripening, but they’re so good!
I’m always amazed at the effort gardeners will go to to enable them to be in their gardens in all weather! Hadn’t thought of actually taking a fan out though! One more picking and I’ll have enough for a blackberry pie or cobbler!