GARDENING COLUMN: Lots of gardening chores with summer’s early arrival | Home & Garden

“Plant and your spouse will plant with you; weeds and you weed alone.”– Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I continue to clean and weed my garden beds. It’s a lonely task; My husband helps out with most of the yard work, but that’s a job he conveniently does when he’s away. With eight large perennial beds, six cut gardens and eight vegetable beds, I have a lot of work to do and would appreciate any help. Don’t feel bad for me though; this is the guy who installed two hanging retractable hose reels, had the tractor’s bucket reattached to move the mulch, put up the trellis for the tomatoes, and got my greenhouse fully functional this year. I decide that this fall I’m going to cut back almost everything, mulch my leaves, and then propagate them back into my flower beds. This helps curb spring weeds while still providing a home for overwintering insects. Next spring I might have a chance to get my flower beds ready before summer comes.

We should be past the freezing point for you to plant any stored geraniums; You will see new growth in about a week. Start checking out your moms; Once they reach six inches, pinch off half of that and continue through July to encourage them to become bushier. When the spring flower bulbs fade, remove the faded flowers but allow the foliage to die back naturally to re-energize the bulbs. I usually plant my mums and daffodils in between, as summer growth from the mums will cover the dying leaves of the daffodils. Pinch your annuals when they are 4 to 6 inches tall to encourage growth. Put on your delphiniums and put rings around your peonies before they get too big. Plant and stake dahlia divisions. I potted mine earlier in the season so I’ll put almost 40 full size plants. I’ve already reserved assignments for them.

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In the vegetable garden, plant celery, melons, squash, cucumbers, gourds and my favorite tomatoes. When planting tomatoes, remove the lower leaves and bury the stems a little deeper for stability. Place a thin layer of newspaper and then a layer of straw mulch under the tomatoes. This helps maintain soil moisture and prevents soil-borne diseases such as Verticillium wilt or Fusarium wilt from splashing onto the underside of the tomato leaves. Try planting tomatoes in a different place than last year. When possible, a three to five year rotation is recommended. Store extra seeds in a cool, dry place for future use. After planting, cover beans, cucumbers, and melons with light floating row covers to aid in insect control. Record when strawberries bloom; You can expect strawberries in about 30 days.

Continue pruning juniper, arborvitae, yew, and hemlock into early summer. Hedges can also be trimmed, smaller at the top and wider at the bottom. Prune pines by cutting two-thirds of the new growth. Cut back spring flowering shrubs shortly after flowering. Finally, mow your garden before the dandelions sow. My grass is tall right now, but I’m waiting for the dandelions to finish blooming for pollinators. However, once I start seeing those seed heads, the mower will come out. I had to dig up too many dandelions from my flower beds this year. I have nothing against them in my weed, but once they are in my flower beds there is no limit. Enjoy the nice weather and happy weeding, I mean plants.

For more information or garden questions, contact the University of Wisconsin Madison of Extension Sauk County office at 608-355-3250 or email


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