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In the Garden This Week: Waiting for the Fog to Lift

Some horticultural things to think about as spring begins to turn into sumnmer.

With all the rain and fog we have had on Aquidneck Island this week, I hope no one spent any time watering lawn, vegetables or flowers. 

Most plants, including all of the above need about one inch of water per week-and that's all. We got substantially more than that from the sky this week. If you want to measure rainfall you can buy a rain gauge or even put an empty tuna fish can in your garden and see how much accumulates. (However, if you have one of those neighborhood cats around, be sure to really clean out the tuna can).

Of course, for those who have automatic sprinkler systems, the key there is to learn how to TURN IT OFF when we get so much rain. This weekend the ground is so saturated you need to be careful where you walk. Continued wetness also encourages various types of fungi to grow on your plants, so keep a watchful eye. A couple of days of good sun and things will dry out.

We seem to be off to a reasonable spring perennial-wise. The Asiatic Lilies are beginning to pop; hydrangeas are going to be excellent again this year and most dogwoods are looking happy. The lilacs are fading and th heavy-headed, but beautiful peonies are in full bloom. If you need to cut back your rhododendrons and azaleas, since flowering is all but over, be careful not to cut off next year's buds which are currently forming. Also the winter moth (see last week's blog) are fading for the time being and targeted trees are sending out new buds.

For serious gardeners and landscapers you might want to consult a landscape message put out by the UMASS Extension Division. It is delivered each week via e-mail and it is free. You can subscribe to it at eweeks@umext.umass.edu. It provides considerable information on its landscape message. While it is intended for Massachusetts residents, much of its content spills over to Rhode Island. Check it out for growing trends as well as insect and disease information. You'll find it very useful.

By the way, it is important that when you are searching the web for gardening information, you should use websites that end in ".edu". Universities like Cornell, Ohio State, UMass and URI, and others provide information that is very appropriate for us.

An additional topic for this week is: "What is the difference between a 'volcano' and a 'lifesaver'"? These deal with the mulching of trees. A few landscaspers believe that the mulch around a tree should resemble a volcano, with mulch piled high against the base of the tree. This is one of the worst things you can do to a tree.

Mulch is put around a tree to protect the tree from the mower and the weed-whacker. It also preserves moisture to some of the inner roots of the tree. The roots of most trees extend BEYOND the dripline of the tree. The dripline is the outermost extensions of the branches. With mulch piled high against the trunk of the tree, that part of the bark remains moist; this is not a good thing for the tree.

Instead, think of a lifesaver or a doughnut. Put a circle of mulch around the tree, no more than 2 inches deep and NOT touching the bark. The tree will be very grateful to you.

(If anyone wants to hear a funny story about a rabbit trapped in my fenced-in garden this week, and how he extracted himself, let me know).

Some future events:

1. Saturday June 16 at 10 AM there will be a free lecture on Organic Pest Control by URI Master Gardeners Lucy Huggins and Jim Garman at the Middletown Community Garden, behind the Middletown Public Library. All are welcome!.

2. There will be a special Father's Day weekend celebration at the Roger Williams Botanical Center in Providence on Saturday June 16. It will include a workshop on beekeeping at 10 AM and a URI Master Gardener Kiosk (with Lucy Huggins and Jim Garman) from noon till 2 PM with free soil testing and lots of lawn and gardening advice. Come tour this wonderful Botanical Center.

3. And, of course, our weekly URI Master Gardener soil testing and gardening information kiosk will be at Paradise Valley Park (Paradise and Prospect Avenues) in Middletown this and every Sunday from noon to 2 PM. Come join us with your questions.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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