Pollinator-friendly pest control
Plus, a Juneteenth shoutout to Black gardening contributions!
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Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful dads!
Today, I’m missing my own father, who I lost in 2019. Always a daddy’s girl, I remember spending hours in the garden with him, watching as he tended to his grapevines, roses, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and herbs.
I never did any gardening as a child—except that one time my punishment for staying out too late was having to weed the entire backyard—but I did learn an appreciation for growing plants. And I have wonderful memories (except, of course, for that miserable day spent sobbing into a bed of dandelions and purslane!)
And as we celebrate dads with cookouts and (hopefully) a day off, today we also celebrate Juneteenth, the date back in 1865 when the last of America’s enslaved people were officially freed.
To honor the importance of the day, I’m revisiting one of my AP gardening columns from February, in which I wrote about the often-unsung contributions of Black contributions to American agriculture and gardening.And be sure to check out my latest AP gardening column to learn ways to You can read it here.
And be sure to check out my latest AP gardening column to learn ways to protect your plants from pests without harming beneficial insects and pollinators.
🎙️ Featured broadcasts
I was interviewed about Growing Great Tomatoes last week by Kevin Gallagher, host of the Digging in the Dirt radio show on WPKN-FM in Connecticut. In case you missed it, you can still listen on Soundcloud here.
I also recently shared my best cost-saving gardening tips with host Kathy Jentz, editor of Washington Gardener Magazine, on the GardenDC podcast. You can listen here.
📬 Ask Jessica
DEAR JESSICA: I hope you can help me figure out what happened to my dogwood tree: I planted it last spring, and it flowered nicely this spring.
Last week, the leaves looked fried. My yard has a sprinkler system, so the tree was getting watered regularly. I do not have anything growing under the tree, and I do not have the area mulched either. There is about a 4-foot diameter circle of dirt around the tree.
My only thought is that my landscaper put fertilizer on the grass at the end of April. Is it possible that the fertilizer did this damage to the tree? —Kathy Burrous, Floral Park, NY
DEAR KATHY: Although lawn fertilizer applied alongside fruiting or flowering plants can negatively affect their performance, I don’t believe a lawn-appropriate dose of nitrogen would harm your dogwood.
Curling, drying leaves often result from insufficient water but could also point to too much sunlight, damaged roots or a fungal disease.
Although your New York garden has not yet experienced the extended, blazing summer sun this year, even established dogwoods are shallow-rooted so a few days of high heat can scorch foliage and cause leaf drop.
Newly planted trees typically require TLC during their first two growing seasons, and that includes mulch and good watering practices.
It’s imperative that you mulch your tree. Mulch serves several purposes, including weed suppression, water retention and soil-temperature regulation. A 3-inch deep application of loose bark mulch, kept 2-3 inches away from the truck and filling the entire 4-foot circle, would help the tree become established and thrive.
Your lawn irrigation system is less than ideal for a tree. Install a soaker hose spiraled over the root zone to deliver water where it’s needed.
When you bought the tree, was it balled-and-burlapped or container grown? Trees grown in containers are preferable because the burlapped ones have been grown in a field, then dug up and their roots wrapped for sale. In the process, roots are disturbed and may become damaged. But even container-grown trees can suffer root damage during planting. And if not planted properly (too deep or not deeply enough), trees and plants can suffer fatal consequences.
Another possibility: Anthracnose is a fungal disease that sometimes affects dogwoods. Were the leaves tainted with blotchy, round tan spots outlined in reddish purple? If so, there’s nothing you can do, as there is no cure.
I hope this helps—keep me posted!
💡 If you do one thing this week…
Fertilize spring bulbs and peonies (as long as flowers have faded) to boost next year’s blooms.
🔥50 % OFF FIRE SALE!
Grab one of the remaining copies of my 2022 Day-by-Day Gardening Calendar at half price — just $12.50—while they last! That’s less than 25 cents a week for 365 garden tips and chores.
If you’re unfamiliar, hanging one of these babies on your wall is like having a complete gardening course in a wall calendar! I’ve included 365 tips and chores to ensure your garden stays on track every day of the year. You’ll never miss a sowing, planting, fertilizing, pest-control or other important gardening date again!
By the end of the year, I promise, you’ll have earned a green thumb! Plus, your wall will be adorned with award-winning photography provided by The Weekly Dirt readers.
Grab one today while it’s on your mind because when they’re gone, they’re gone (and I’m not going to publish a wall calendar for 2023). Take a look:
📰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.
Pollinator-friendly pest control: Yes, you can protect your plants without killing pollinators. Just take care to follow these guidelines.
Preparing a garden for severe storms—and cleaning up after.
Do we have to separate you two? Best, worst companion plants for a healthier, pest-free garden
Common gardening mistakes — and how to avoid them: Much of gardening is learned by trial and error -- and, unfortunately, that’s mostly error. Learn how to get ahead of those blunders for a healthy, productive garden.
Not all shade is the same: Gardening where there's little sun: Gardening in the shade doesn't have to mean limited plant choices and lack of color. The first step is understanding which type of shade you have. Click in for guidance and plant suggestions.
Plant this, not that: Native alternatives for 8 popular invasive plants.
Go Native! If your idea of the perfect garden includes abundant plants that do well with little human intervention, while attracting and supporting all manner of pollinators, plant natives. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Filling raised beds? Save money—and grow better—with Hugelkultur: Hugelkultur is a different, more natural (and cheaper) approach to raised beds or mounds that doesn’t require so many bags of top soil or compost. Instead, you fill the space with organic matter that gradually decomposes, feeding the soil and plants. Here’s how.
Want more? You can read all my AP gardening columns here.
Let’s be friends! Follow me @JesDamiano on Instagram
📧 How’m I doing?
I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.
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