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Charlie’s Mid June Newsletter

rosesDiscover Cuba!, Can’t Miss Cantaloupes, Stunning Salvias and Weed Control Video

One of the fun things about gardening is you’re always learning. One of the ways I like to learn is to see other gardens in other locations. That’s why 7 years ago I started leading international garden tours. It’s an opportunity to see and experience other gardens, and more importantly, learn from other cultures and gardeners. My next tour is all set. I’m going to Cuba! This will be an adventure into a developing country and the gardening and agriculture they employ to grow food and flowers. Plus, we’ll get an immersion into the culture and history of this island. I talk more about the trip below.

June is melon month. If you haven’t planted melons yet, there’s still time to get a good crop of cantaloupes. I talk about how to grow cantaloupes and the different varieties in this newsletter.
Right now our salvias are blooming their heads off. Salvia is a diverse group of annual and perennial plants. I talk about unique varieties and how to grow them here.

With a little rain, comes the weeds. Now is the time to stay on top of weeding. It’s much easier to weed young weeds just popping up now, than pulling huge mature weeds in a few weeks. My weed control video will help you thwart weeds in the garden and lawn.

webinarAlso, speaking of pests in the yard and garden, how about deer, rabbits, slugs and caterpillars….. to name a few? If you’re fretting about pests, consider purchasing my Organic Pest Control Webinar.

In this webinar I talk about ways to organize your garden to avoid pest issues. Then I walk through the different control steps using cultural controls, barriers, and traps to reduce the damage. Finally, I talk about organic sprays as a last resort. This webinar was recorded last summer. You purchase it now and watch it as many times as you like. Do it in the evening after a good day in the garden to get some new ideas on pest controls.

I’m off to do some weeding myself…. Until next time I’ll be seeing you… in the garden.

Charlie


Where to Find Charlie: (podcasts, TV and in-person)me and sharon


Discover Cuba!

Cuba has intriCubagued Americas for centuries. Cuba was a hot spot for  travelers for years in the first half of the 20th century. My parents honeymooned in Havana in the 1940’s. The country has been mostly closed to American visitors until recently where now more and more people are rediscovering Cuba.

I’ll be leading a Gardens, History and Culture of Cuba trip next March 20-27, 2019 and would love to have you join me. We’ll be visiting botanic gardens in Havana and Cienfuegoes, a private orchid collection in the countryside west of Havana, a forest preserve where they grow and collect medicinal herbs, and different organiponicos, or organic farms. We’ll have a chance to interact with the Cuban people, farmers and gardeners speaking the universal language of flowers and food.
Cuba
But Cuba is much more than just gardens. We’ll have a chance to visit historic sites and cultural centers learning about Cuban art, music, dance and history. Although a developing country, what Cuba lacks in physical resources, they make up for in the friendliness and hospitality of the people.
If you’re interested in a unique garden trip to a land that hasn’t changed, in many ways, for decades, consider joining me on my Discover Cuba tour next March.


Go here for more on my Cuba trip

How to Grow: Cantaloupes

cantaloupeThere’s nothing like eating a sun-warmed, fresh, ripe cantaloupe from your own garden. Although many gardeners are shy about growing cantaloupes, home-grown fruits taste so much better compared to the store-bought ones. And it’s not too late in many areas to pop some cantaloupes in the ground for a harvest in a few months.

If starting now, look for fast maturing cantaloupe varieties. ‘Magnificenza’ is a hybrid Italian type with sweet orange flesh that natures in 78 days. ‘PMR Delicious 51’ is a powdery mildew resistant variety with thin skin and orange flesh. ‘Ronmelon in gardena’ is a Galia-type with green flesh and easy-to-recognize netting that turns yellow when the fruit is ripe. ‘Divergent’ is a cantaloupe/Galia cross with very sweet orange flesh.
Cantaloupes like the heat, water and fertility. Build a raised bed on all but sandy soils. Amend the soil with compost and plant seeds or transplants spaced 3 feet apart. In cool summer areas, lay black plastic mulch on the beds. Poke holes in the plastic and plant right throughfresh melon the mulch. The black plastic keeps the soil warm, moist and weed free. Keep plants well watered all summer.
Side dress with fertilizer every 3 weeks using fish emulsion or an organic 5-5-5 granular fertilizer. Watch for squash bugs and cucumber beetles and hand pick to control them.
Check the netting on the melon skin for ripeness. Most cantaloupes will be ripe when the background skin color changes from green to yellow. Also, gently lift the melon and it should slip off the vine easily when ripe. And, it often has a sweet melon fragrance. Watch out for mice in your melon patch, too. They also know when melons are ripe. Consider protecting prized fruits with wire mesh wrapped around the melon.

Stunning Salvias

salviaSalvias are workhorse flowers in the garden. Annual varieties add color all year with spikes of white, pink, red and blue. Perennial salvias are beautiful mounding plants with various color flowers as well. There are even bush forms of salvia and culinary sage is also a salvia. You can see salvia is everywhere in the garden!

I like the perennial salvias for their flower power and hardiness. salvia with beeMay Night’ is an award winning purple flowered variety that stands 2 feet tall and is a favorite of butterflies and pollinators. ‘Blue Hill’ has lavender-blue flowers, is rabbit and deer proof and loves the heat. ‘Cardonna’ has unique black stems that contrast well with the deep purple colored flower spikes.
Plant perennial salvias in full sun on well-drained soil. Mature plants are drought tolerant. Remember salvias are related to the sages that thrives in dry Western soils. Salvia grow in well-mannered mounds, so plant them in groups of 3, 5 or 7 for the best visual effect. They bloom in early summer and, if deadheaded, will repeat bloom later in summer as well. Salvia has few pests. Deer, rabbits and wood chucks seem to ignore them. Yet, they are the perfect pollinator or butterfly garden plant. They are hardy to zone 4, don’t take over the garden, yet flower reliably every year. Pair them in the garden with yarrow, sedum, rudbeckia, and coreopsis. We all should be growing perennial salvia!


Go here for more on growing salvia.

In My Garden: Weed Control Video

weedsSummer means weeds. Weeds in the garden, lawn or yard can be a pain, just when you want to kick back and relax in the heat of summer. But weeds can be controlled organically without a lot of work, if you start early and stick with it.

In the lawn, the best control of weeds is removing weeds by hand then creating a thick lush sward of grass. Add compost and overseed with grass seed annually to thicken your lawn.
In the garden, remove annual weeds early and often. It’s easy to shuffle around the garden with a sharp bladed, long-handled hoe, cutting off the weeds just as they germinate. Do that a few times a week, and you’ll be enjoying time at the beach come summer. Weeds in the perennial garden need hoeing, hand pulling and a healthy soil so the flowers crowd the weeds out. Weeds in a stone patio or walkway can be killed with acetic acid or a flame thrower.

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