Thursday, June 20, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing



Sometimes the lazy gardener must choose what can be done in the time available.

So much to do. We’ll see how far I get.

My meadow has started blooming! A New England meadow takes a while to bloom but will have flowers for months once it starts. My lupine look beautiful. After these blooms, I will enjoy coreopsis, and then we will see! This planting experiment means surprises every year.

After a holiday weekend, I am playing catch-up. Luckily, that is not too much of a problem. Soils are warm. Soil moisture is back up after Memorial Day rains. You still have a month to plant the warm-weather-loving annuals because the heat will push the plants to grow.

I meant to wait, but I admit, I planted my tomato starts this past weekend. I didn’t need to, but they were a quick addition compared to putting annuals in my perennial borders that also needed weeding, edging, and mulching. Sometimes the lazy gardener must choose what can be done in the time available. A quick tip on tomato planting: If you have saved eggshells separately, add a few crushed eggshells to the bottom of your tomato planting hole. The calcium of the eggshells become available to the tomatoes as you water and will help prevent blossom-end rot in tomatoes.

I have a few more garden beds to edge. While edging, I plant annuals. I extend the color in my perennial flower borders by choosing similar colors in annuals that will bloom all summer long. I have blue bachelor button that will give way to blue “Rozanne” geranium, and I tie it together with “Victoria blue” annual salvia. I stumbled on this combination and succession. Now I stick with the combination because I know it works. To save time on the edging and planting, I do the tasks at the same time. I cut away invasive grasses moving into my perennial flower bed as I planted a few annuals in the gaps between perennials. I still plan to spread bark mulch between the flowering plants to keep the soil moist and weed seeds down. The weather has cooperated so the mulch can wait for another day.

As predicted, I planted my Brussels sprout starts last weekend. I will wrap reflective material around the stem and over the soil as well. You could use tinfoil or any highly reflective material. I add this, especially to cruciferous plants (broccoli or Brussels sprouts) or squash, as pest prevention. Pest flies and moths will lay eggs in the shade under leaves. The reflective material eliminates shade and sends pests elsewhere. I use a few re-purposed materials to wrap the stem. I saved the foil “seals” from my yogurt containers. The foil has plastic fused in a secondary layer making it non-recyclable. I also save reflective coffee bags to put under my squash plants. The larger coffee bags keep squash bugs away without pest sprays or time spent picking off pests.

If you don’t have one, plant a plot of perennial asparagus. This easy-to-grow vegetable needs a few seasons to mature, but from then on, you have up to six weeks of green stems for supper. I planted my 15-foot asparagus bed in 2021. This has been the first year that we cut stalks regularly for our supper. I find that every three days, I have enough stems to add to the meal. Save your asparagus from day to day in a container of water. If left on the counter, the stems will continue to stretch and grow! Slow down the growth by putting the container in the refrigerator.

At left, start an asparagus bed in a spot with full sun and well-drained soil. Asparagus grows on roadsides—let that be your guide! Asparagus can be cut for six to eight weeks, or about two to three weeks still for this bed. At right, save cut asparagus in a tall container with water. If left on the counter, the stems elongate. Put in the refrigerator to slow down the growth.

Let’s have a shout-out to native plants! I have a cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum) in bloom. It will need pruning when done blooming, but for now, I am letting it fill out and create another visual barrier in my shrub border. I planted this border as a soft hedge. The plantings aren’t rigid or in a row. I have them spaced to capture sunlight and to fill a visual sightline beautifully from our neighbor’s backyard.

This Viburnum trilobum has thrived in full sun. This shrub needs shaping, but the flowers attract important pollinators for now. After it blooms, the Lazy Berkshire Gardener needs to make some thinning cuts at the base to ensure beautiful blooms and a nice shrub shape next year.

Native plants help manage problem areas. We have a “chronically” wet area near the road in front of the house. We haven’t really figured out where all the water comes from, but that doesn’t matter. I planted Aronia in the wet area because I know these plants thrive along wetlands. Sadly, the flowers seem to last only about a week. I hold hope that the short bloom time simply means that pollinators will get to those flowers quickly and help them set fruit, completing the plant’s purpose.

Aronia melanocarpa (chokeberry) bloom has been brief but varies based on temperature. Rabbits and deer will nibble this plant, so be sure to use repellents if you want to see some fruit and a larger plant over time.

Have you discovered native striped maple (Acer pensylvanica)? This small native tree lives in the understory of woods. The trees have a unique flower droop to attract native pollinators. I enjoy the large leaves that absorb a high quantity of sunlight even in shaded woods. Plants that thrive in shady locations often have wider leaves.

Acer pensylvanica grows in woods as an understory opportunist, reaching for light under larger trees. As a result, one leaf can be 10 inches in width.

As you walk about your gardens, observe what is growing and growing well. I have been weeding out the usual bullies from the perennial gardens. Goldenrod has moved through the beds, and I alone can stop it! Other aggressive plants include bent grass and bedstraw that I pull up and out! Under these aggressive perennials, I have uncovered my Blue Lobelias (Lobelia siphilitica). By weeding slowly and carefully, I have uncovered the lobelia and other important plants in the weeds. Look closely and see what treasures you can rediscover in your garden.

Consult your notes or photos from year to year to remember where special plants are growing. Lobelia siphilitica comes along late to the party. The Lazy Berkshire Gardener avoids weeding the bed where it lives to avoid accidentally removing the plant.

I call myself the Lazy Berkshire Gardener because I don’t want to work too hard in my gardens. I want to enjoy them. I find it easier to observe my landscape and let the compost happen, the water pool up, or daisies to self-sow. I look for ways to do the minimum task for the biggest impact. For example, mulching is better than spraying and much better than weeding all season. I look for beautiful, low-maintenance plants that thrive in or at least tolerate my garden conditions. Plus, I’m willing to live with the consequences if I miss something.


The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.

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It seems this week has all the important gardening tasks scheduled for early morning.


A good editor knows what to excise, and what to enhance. With that in mind, I grabbed my chainsaw, and removed a magnolia.


Be lazy and take time to enjoy the flowers and the wildlife they support.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.