With summer weather finally here, I’m doing the end of spring clean-up in my gardens.
This entails cutting back spring blooming perennials, cutting off dead flowers (deadheading) on plants that will re-bloom and doing a thorough weeding.
Due to a cool and relatively wet spring, plants have grown bigger than normal, just as they do with too much watering.
This lush juicy growth has attracted more aphids and also made plants vulnerable in sudden hot weather. Extra growth means they will be more water thirsty.
Any areas that I didn’t mulch this spring need a lot more water, spurring me on to finish mulching.
I need to weed thoroughly, then soak the bare ground before spreading one to two inches of mulch material to cover all exposed soil.
It is such a relief when I get it done. My plants thrive and need much less wate.
Weed growth is drastically reduced. Weed seeds left on the soil surface cannot germinate without light. Any weeds that do grow are easy to pull out because the mulch prevents a hard crust forming on the soil surface.
I’m using up materials I have around the property. The old bale of straw will go under rhubarb and around squash. Finished compost will go onto the vegetable garden boxes and I’ll finish spreading cedar chip mulch in the pathways to prevent weed growth.
Rotted leaf mulch from last year may go into a flower bed. The rest of some Classic Compost mulch will go onto flower beds and a bag of wood shavings will go around some shrubs.
If I need more mulch I may get some Glengrow (the city’s yard waste compost) or well rotted manure.
I use two buckets when I weed. One is for things I put into my compost. This is mostly the trimmings from my plants. If I have a really large volume, I spread everything out and shred it with my neighbour’s electric mower, so it will rot faster. I also water my compost as I add to it. Dry compost won’t rot.
The other bucket is for everything that needs to go into the green yard waste bin. This includes weeds that are flowering or have gone to seed and all noxious or invasive weeds such as morning glory weed, and quack grass that have invasive root systems. Home composts do not get hot enough to kill off seeds or invasive roots. Any garden plants that seed or root invasively also go in the green bin when being removed from the garden.
There are many tree seedlings sprouting right now. I’m finding maples, Siberian Elm and Tree of Heaven (which stinks when I rub it).
All quickly form large root systems, often bigger than their top growth. In less than a year they can be hard to remove.
Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Learn more about Gardening with Nature and plants for the Okanagan on the website www.okanaganxeriscape.org