Some plants flower based upon genetics. It doesn’t matter what the weather; they flower after a set number of days goes by. Others are photoperiodic and only flower when the light hits a certain number of hours. And some plants produce flowers based not on light but the numbers of days at a certain heat or cold.
No matter. We have really had a warm and sunny summer this year and things seem to be blooming earlier, according to many of my friends. In some cases it is so. However, the warm weather has heated up our imaginations as much as the atmosphere. Certainly many of our favorites and standards are growing bigger and faster due to the weather. And many that might not have done so well under past conditions are flowering better this year.
It doesn’t matter the cause, does it? Whatever it is, it is making you LOOK like a better gardener. If you want to actually BE one, then you can do two things: Start dead-heading spent flowers and thin your vegetable plots.
Let’s start with dead-heading. For the uninitiated, this is the term applied to removal of dead flowers. Because the plant can’t then develop seeds, its “survival instincts” kick in and (many) will go ahead and develop replacements. More flowers!
Not all plants are genetically programmed to do this and some that are require more time than we are probably going to have before a killing frost (but who knows!). It is worth a try, though, a new flower being better than a dead one.
Unfortunately, the term dead-heading is a poor choice for what you need to do because you shouldn’t wait until the blossom is dead. If you do, you risk the plant developing seeds. Instead, remove blossoms as just as they start to fade.
Flowers that develop long stems such as cosmos or marigolds should be removed along with their stems. Other flowers like fuchsia lack those long stems. In these cases, just pull off the flowers.
Dead-heading is a continuous process. This is something you want to do as soon as the flowers fade because it can take six weeks for a fuchsia flower, for example, to develop and bloom. Other plants, like those cosmos and marigolds, don’t usually take as long to redevelop blooms.
OK, so on to the vegetable patch. If you don’t give your plants room to grow, they won’t produce properly if at all. So if you want a real harvest, then you need to thin. Since you can use many of these thinned-out crops in salads and cooking, think of the chore as pre-harvesting. Use your fingers or a scissors.
If you are a beginner to thinning, simply think of how big a vegetable is in the supermarket. Thin to accommodate plants big enough to produce crops of that size. Get it done. With all this great weather, it would be a shame to end up with a stunted harvest.
Some thinnings will grow if replanted. Lettuces come to mind. This time plant them with the appropriate distance between neighbors.
Of course, both of these chores allow you to spend some time inspecting your plants and gardens. Despite the smoke in the air, this is good.
Jeff’s Alaskan Garden Calendar
Water: 2 to 3 inches between you and nature a week. Don’t forget trees and shrubs.
Weeds that need attention: Butter and eggs, balsam or poor man’s orchid. Remove then entire plant and toss in the garbage.
Outdoor greenhouses: Hand-pollinate your plants if you are not getting tomatoes. Vibrating the stalks frees pollen to fly to other plants.
Raspberries and strawberries: Pick and enjoy! Don’t let them go to waste.