ELAINE CERNY: A gardener’s work is never done

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press Annuals hide my little wheelbarrow.

The good news is that our average high temperatures are starting to cool down. The bad news is that means summer is flying by and will soon be over… sniff.

I don’t know how many days of 90s we had, but it was a lot. Some of the most common casualties to such hot weather are containers or hanging baskets that have dried to the point where adding water to them just runs off. To fix this problem, you’ll need a container larger than the dry one. Set the dried-up container into the larger one which you’ll fill with water. Leave them sit for several hours or overnight. The dried pot or basket should be soaked up by then and if you haven’t waited too long, the plant inside will be OK.

To keep this from happening, you’ll need to water those containers and hanging baskets twice a day until the heat backs off. Just another gardening chore.

Another way to help your yard survive in hot weather is to adjust your lawn mower so it doesn’t cut the grass so short. Longer grass handles the heat much better.

It’s time to prune back those blooming petunias. They’ve probably developed some long stems by now and may be looking rather gangly. To give them a new lease on life, cut each steam about halfway back. Then mix up some fertilizer meant for flowering plants, (one with a high middle number) and give them a nice drink. This should get them back to looking good and they will continue blooming until (perish the thought) cold weather arrives.

Be on the lookout for webworms which inhabit trees and shrubs. They create large webs where the worms live while they literally eat your tree. Pull the webs and worms out and trash them before they do major damage.

Any time you see a yellow leaf on a plant, feel free to pull it off. Once a leaf turns yellow, it will never, ever, turn green again. This is true of any plant, from the smallest annual to the tallest tree.

Go ahead and divide and replant those irises that you meant to do in July. It’s probably not too late.

We are enjoying another crop of baby birds in our backyard. They are fun to watch as mom and dad feed them over and over. No wonder they grow so quickly.

If you should happen to find a baby bird that has fallen out of the nest, don’t be afraid to pick it up and put it back. The parents will not reject it like many animals will. This is because birds have a very poor sense of smell and will not detect it on their young ones.

The raspberries were wonderful this year, but after three or four weeks of picking them, I have to say in all honestly, “the thrill is gone.”

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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