The May long weekend has passed and conditions in the garden are still a few weeks ahead of where they would normally be. Who knows what the summer will be like but if it involves any combination of gardening time, beach time, boat time, bike time and deck time it will be a good one right? Here are a few observations I’ve made as we speed through the month.
Peach leaf curl is back, again. This fungal disease can plague peaches and nectarines, turning the leaves from green to a pink, distorted rubbery mess. It was quite prevalent last spring but I thought with the warmer and drier spring that we might avoid it. It appears I was wrong. If your tree is affected there isn’t much that can be done right now. Pick off the infected leaves if you want but they will fall off in a few weeks on their own, followed by new growth that won’t be afflicted. In the fall spray with copper and then follow with dormant sprays before bud break. The fruit is not going to be damaged but the tree may lose its vigour if enough leaves curl. Give it some fertilizer to help encourage new growth. Peach leaf curl isn’t fatal, it just looks dreadful.
Interesting how the standard for lawns has changed in the past decade isn’t it? In the past nobody wanted a lawn with dandelions in it. It was a sign of defeat and apathy and a dandelion-infested lawn brought shame to the family. Take a look at the lawns in your neighbourhood, at the playing fields and the orchards. Weed and feed products are becoming museum pieces and there is far less enthusiasm for spraying herbicides on lawns. Some jurisdictions have banned their use outright. The result is a very healthy dandelion population in all but the most manicured lawns. There are two responses when it comes to your lawn. Either you shrug your shoulders and cook dandelion greens or you get out the dandelion puller, get on your knees and start extracting.
Have you noticed just how many blooms there have been on trees and shrubs this spring? The Saskatoon bushes on the hillsides were solid clouds of white a month ago and I’m sure we’ll see a similar effect on the native Mock Orange shrubs very soon. Flowering dogwoods have been amazing, as were the flowering plums earlier. Lilacs have been spectacular. The heavy bloom is perhaps a byproduct of the very warm weather we had last summer. Any time a plant is under stress its response is to produce more blooms and seed in an effort to ensure the survival of its offspring should the parent plant die. That’s a simple summation of a much more complex process but we get to enjoy the outcome when the plant flowers. Can’t wait for the next wave of colour!
Finally, weather forecasters are telling us that the summer will be warm and dry. Snowpacks are low in some locations and we know what’s been happening in California. Gardeners can be among the most efficient users of water if we use common sense and follow some simple guidelines. Check out the Make Water Work website at www.makewaterwork.ca for ideas on how to use less water while still enjoying your garden. Take the pledge and you could win a garden makeover worth $6000!

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