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Seeding, pinching and trimming after the rain

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Well, we're on our way to getting our average 3 1/2 inches of rain in June. I only hope the rest of it comes without the wind damage. The rain did save my crops and I know I wasn't alone. The long, dry spells do have their benefits. We can plant more.

Now is the time to start seeds for the fall garden. Pumpkins, cabbage and cale crops can be planted from seed to give you more food for the pantry this winter. It's also time to pinch back mums, coleus and impatiens. If that's not enough to keep you off the streets, I've got more.

We also need to trim the peony bushes and dig and divide iris. Then, you have the fruit trees to thin and the roses to fertilize and the strawberry patch probably needs attention. Get those new runners trained over into a new row. Just wait until the new runner gets established into the soil before you clip it from the mother plant.

If you're lucky enough to have a wood chipper, you can take advantage of all those downed branches. Use the chips to mulch your vegetable gardens, flowers, brambles and trees.

I was especially happy that the blackberries got rain when they really needed it. Remember last year? Not many berries made it through the drought. I'm looking forward to picking my wild black raspberries and freezing them.

Brambles have a funny way of growing. They produce fruit on long branches called canes. Each year the canes that produced the fruit need to be pruned after harvest. Leave the new shoots because that's where the berries will form next year.

Blackberries are pretty easy to grow. Basically it's just pruning the old canes and picking the harvest. Occasionally, there can be some disease problems. Powdery mildew can form a white coating on the fruits. Cane blight causes wilted tips and dark spots on the canes. Let's just hope you never have to deal with anthracnose because it's a bugger.

Some viruses may stunt the growth of the harvest, creating curled, yellow leaves and strange fruits. Crown gall makes lumpy swellings around the roots and at the base of shoots. Dig and destroy these plants.

Rust will cause orange spots on the undersides of leaves and there is no cure. Try using copper or sulfur sprays before fruit starts to set. Gray fuzz on fruits means you haven't been picking enough and the fruits are rotting.

Since the insects are also out and about now don't forget the chamomile tea. Brew up two cups of water with 4 bags of tea and let cool. Keep it in the refrigerator and spray your body before you go outside. It'll keep the flies and mosquitoes and other little bugs from biting you.

Now get out there and watch over your gardens. Enjoy each sunrise and sunset, and make progress in between. Saturday is the first day of summer. Remember the shortest path to heaven is through the garden gate. Happy growing.