Chores pile up as weather warms up

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2014

SALISBURY — Gardening activities have increased as homeowners venture outdoors to plant and prepare for summer weather. There are a number of lingering chores that need attention. Below are some that people are undertaking in preparation for summer weather.
Pansies are beginning to fail. Even though the plants still look fairly good, it is time to decide which annual replaces them. Now is the time to plant colorful annuals. Take up pansies and install summer annuals as soon as possible. The longer you procrastinate, the slimmer the selection of annuals and perennials at garden centers and retail outlets throughout the county.
Gardeners who escaped the last bit of cold weather may have apple and peach fruit still clinging on their trees and must thin them now. Clusters of apples and peaches drain growth, cause limb breakage, are difficult to spray and don’t taste as good as properly thinned fruit.
Thin fruit when it reaches the size of a quarter. Gently remove damaged or small fruit away from tree limbs leaving a space of 4 inches between each fruit. Now is the time to initiate and adhere to consistent fruit tree sprays for insect and disease control. Many home orchard sprays found at garden centers contain blended insecticides and fungicides for complete pest control. Be prepared to spray very 10-14 days for insect- and disease-free fruit.
Now that the soil is warming, summer vegetables such as okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas, peppers, melons, sweet potatoes can be planted.
Cool season lawns look their best at this time of year. It’s too late to fertilize cool season fescue and bluegrass lawns with high nitrogen fertilizer. Brown patch may be a problem later this month when higher humidity and nighttime temperatures rise. Mow consistently, keeping the height between 3-4 inches tall. Mow lawns late in the afternoon when the leaves are dry to prevent spread of foliar diseases.
Clover and other weeds can be a problem in fescue lawns. It is a difficult weed to control especially when it is in bloom. Many weed control products require multiple sprays for control. Keep lawns fertilized and maintained on a regular basis to help control the weed.
Cool season crops such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and onions should come into harvest this month.
Watch out for cabbage loopers. These green worms can hide anywhere. Soak broccoli and cauliflower in salty water for 15 minutes to make them turn loose. (See related content in Danelle Cutting’s column.)