So take a look at the space you’ve decided to give to your plants. If it’s near a window, how much light will the window provide? Do you need to supplement that light with an artificial light source? And, if so, is there a plug-in nearby? If not, do you have an extension cord long enough to reach it? And can you place that cord where nobody is going to trip over it?
I really didn’t expect to have to do THAT much thinking over where to put a pot of herbs, but here we are.
Q: Dear Garden Boss, My neighbors are constantly peeking into my backyard to offer a running commentary on the dismal state of my garden. What can I do to make this stop?
A: There are all kinds of helpful plants out there that will save you heartache and agony.
1) Wisteria will creep into your neighbor’s yard and pull down their house like Samson in the temple, thus forcing your pesky neighbors to move. We now offer the WWE series, which includes “Hulk Hogan” with cute pink flowers and “The Rock,” which likes to creep into the kitchen to smell what YOU’RE cooking!
2) Our trumpet creepers have just come in. Michael Dirr says of these, “Plant these and run.” These vines will eat up anything you turn them loose on, including your neighbors. They are available in red, yellow, orange, yellow-orange, orange-yellow, red-orange, and puce.
Q: Wow, thanks, garden boss! A: Yeah, no problemo.
If you squeeze the sides of a snapdragon blossom, it opens its little mouth and says “rawr rawr.” Or maybe that’s me. These flowers are edible, though flavor ranges from bland to bitter. Probably best as a garnish. In Missouri, the plant will stay green through November.
Male Japanese beetles will fly to plants where females were feeding, or pretty much anyplace where the females are. In the morning, when the females climb out of the holes they’ve dug to lay their eggs, a bunch of males will fly over and land and try to mate with her. And she’s like, “Dudes, I just woke up, geez.”
One way of outsmarting tomato diseases may be to plant a wide variety of disease-resistant tomato plants, not just one variety. Even if you lose one or two tomato plant to the disease, the other varieties could resist it. Also, space the tomato plants well apart from each other. My tomato plants were scattered around the garden, well apart from each other, and this probably saved some of my plants.
To keep the ground cool while the seeds are germinating, shade it by placing a board over your rows, raising it off the ground with two flowerpots or bricks. Or use shade cloth or even sheer curtains to help keep the plants cool. When the seedlings emerge, remove the board, then mulch the ground with a half-inch of grass clippings or straw. Add more mulch once the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall.
It seems a shame to relegate food plants to second place in the garden. They aren’t as tidy as ornamentals, but they were bred to produce bountiful crops, but they can also look very good, and many of them can fit in well in a mixed border.
August is the hottest month — allegedly, as it started out as pretty cool here in Missouri, but now the heat’s finally showing up. At any rate, the vegetable garden is going like gangbusters right now. Here’s a little list of chores for the August garden, just to keep you up to speed.
The best place to grow tomatoes will have full sun for six hours a day. Hotter southern locations might need a little afternoon shade to give the tomatoes a bit of relief so they can survive and thrive. A well-drained site with rich, loamy soil is ideal. If you don’t have a location with full sun for six hours a day, you might have to trim back some tree branches. If your soil isn’t ideal, start adding organic material like compost to it.