Discover more from The Weekly Dirt with Jessica Damiano
It's mid-season bloom day!
July is when my garden really takes off in a riot of color. It’s not quite at its peak yet, but it’s getting close. So far, all the hydrangeas are in full bloom, and so are (from top to bottom and left to right):
Geranium’ Rozanne’, butterfly milkweed, salvia ‘May Night’
Coneflower, probably ‘Pow Wow Wildberry’
Another coneflower, either ‘Sombrero Flamenco Orange’ or ‘Orange You Awesome’ (I have both and forget which is which), coupled with ‘Desert Eve Terracotta’ yarrow, which is mainly looking yellow right now.
‘Raspberry wine’ bee balm
White Volcano Phlox behind a not-yet-blooming purple Liatris spicata
Common orange daylily
I hope you’re awash in blooms, too. Please send me your photos!
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: I generate a lot of spent loose-leaf tea. I hate to put it in my kitchen compost because I use compostable bags, and the dampness would disintegrate them. Can I top off my plant pots with it? — Abbey
DEAR ABBEY: It depends on what you’re growing.
Tea leaves contain all three major nutrients found in balanced fertilizer products, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, so they nourish your plants. But they’re also acidic and will lower the pH of the soil, so incorporating them around plants that require alkaline soil may be harmful, especially in larger quantities.
Use tea leaves around houseplants like African violets, Boston fern, philodendrons, azaleas, monsteras and succulents, as well as outdoor plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, roses, tomatoes and many other vegetables.
But avoid (or strongly limit) their use around houseplants like oxalis or garden plants like bachelor buttons, calendula, daisies, daylilies, foxgloves, goldenrod, hosta, lavender, mums, salvia, sweet alyssum and yarrow.
If I haven’t listed your plants, research their names and “soil pH,” and apply tea leaves only if the range is below 7.0 (the lower the plant’s required pH, the more tea leaves you can use).
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Ensure garden plants and turfgrass get 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week from rainfall, irrigation, or a combination of both.
👏 Sunday shoutout
Elaine Rosselli of East Northport, NY, poses with a lovely patch of coneflowers nearly as tall as she is!
Send in your photo, and you could be featured next!
📰This week in my Associated Press gardening column
I write a weekly gardening column for the AP, so you might have seen my byline in your local paper (or news website) — wherever in the world you happen to be. In case you miss it, I’ll post the most recent here every week.
This week: How to grow a pawpaw — the unsung, delicious, low-maintenance, native N. American fruit tree.
Last week: How to grow a cutting garden for beautiful bouquets all season long.
A week prior: My best water-saving tips.
You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
📚📺🎵 Random things I enjoyed this week
📺 I watched Pineapple Express for what was probably the 30th time. It never gets old!
🍅 I fell in love with these goats eating tomatoes (exactly like I hope to be in a couple of weeks!) My colleague Mandy Hofmockel tipped me off to their cuteness in her invaluable Journalism Jobs and a Photo of My Dog newsletter. Give it a read if you work in the industry.
🎅🏽I went to the Holiday Gift Guide Media Event in NYC and discovered dozens of new, innovative and useful gardening, cooking and lifestyle products. I’ll be testing out my favorites over the next few months to be sure they’re worthy of recommending around the holidays. Stay tuned!
This newsletter is member-supported
This week’s newsletter was made possible by generous support from Diane Frattine, Rosemary Ullrich, Elaine Pasquali, Kathy Burrous and a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. We wouldn’t be here without you!
I’m a freelance writer who juggles various gigs to piece together a living. I spend hours every week writing The Weekly Dirt, answering your questions and sharing advice to help you achieve the garden of your dreams. As much as I enjoy it, I have bills to pay. I also believe everyone should be paid for their work. Don’t you?
I considered putting The Weekly Dirt behind a paywall and charging a subscription fee, but although I am reserving that as a last resort, I’d rather not because I understand that not everyone can afford even a nominal fee, and I genuinely want to help people learn to garden better.
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📧 How’m I doing?
I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — along with any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.