Growing in the summer

LIGHTING UP THE WARM NIGHTS OF JUNE: There is a new burst of light in the garden plot and also on the front lawn as the fireflies brighten the twilight. The fireflies are almost tame as they flutter around the deck as they signal with their lights. We always caught them in quart mason jars at my grandma’s home in Northampton County on the sawdust pile across the street from her home. She would always drop us in a wash tub of cold water before we went to bed to get rid of the sawdust and also that “lightening bug” smell.

THE PANDA FERN IS SPREADING UP AND OUT: Panda ferns respond well to the temperatures of June as the green fern reaches over the bounds of the container, as well as growing taller. The most practical attribute of this fern is that it can be trimmed and shaped. It develops runners which can be trimmed to promote growth. The asparagus fern is also performing over outside on the porch. Our winters are mild enough for them to survive and make a spring bounce back. The panda fern is too tender and dainty to withstand the winter, but thrives in the sunny living room all winter long before being moved to the deck for the summer. Both these ferns are great investments that last many years. You can purchase them in four inch pots for around three dollars. Purchase larger containers and transplant them immediately for a quick response all summer long.

THE SPREADING VERBENA HANGING BASKETS: The verbena produces well in hanging baskets and they will cascade over the baskets all summer long. They come in colors of red, purple, lavender, and mixed varieties. They produce even more abundantly when the flowers are pinched off after they bloom.

STILL TIME TO PLANT A PACKET OF FOUR O’CLOCKS: The pretty four o’clock can still be planted and produce many flowers all the way until frost. They will grow quickly in the warm June soil and you will see blooms in mid-July. A packet costs around two dollars and come in colors of red, yellow, wine, and mixed shades. They thrive in all types of soil and can even be planted in the garden plot.

START A PACKET OF SUNFLOWERS: While you are planting those four o’clocks, purchase a pack of sunflower seed and plant them. You can plant the short, medium, and tall varieties. They grow very quickly and can also be planted on the corners and edges of the garden. They are colorful and attract many birds, including finches to the garden. As they grow taller, you may want to drive a stake beside them for added support in case of a storm.

WE NEED THE GUNS OF SUMMERTIME: We are referring to the much-needed afternoon thunderstorms of the non-severe type that dump a half-inch of rain and then move to another area where others need rain. A summer thundershower produces more than a shot in the arm for the garden plot; it also has certain electricity about it that livens up not only the garden plot but the lawn, plus a fresh aroma to the summer landscape. Yes, there is magic in the summer guns!

SETTING OUT BIG BERTHAS AND CALIFORNIA WONDERS: These two bell pepper varieties are waiting to be set out in the garden plot. Buy a four-pack of each and get them in the warm June soil this weekend. Make sure the plants your purchase are healthy with blue-green stems not legged out, and with no blooms on them. Never buy any plant that already has blooms on it. Bell peppers are very tropical and they will grow rapidly in the garden plot of June. Peppers are easy to freeze later in the summer and all you have to do is seed them, chop them in quarter inch cubes and place in frozen food containers. When you need peppers for a recipe like spaghetti or meat loaf, just shake what you need from the container while it is still frozen.

ADDED COLOR TO THE ZINNIA BED: The zinnia bed is a rainbow of colors with plenty of green foliage. An added attraction is the arrival all day of the yellow and black swallowtail butterflies. At times, there are 25 or more at one time on the zinnias. The zinnias are also visited by many birds in the area. They provide an array of color and activity to the warm landscape of June.

COOLING OFF THE HOT FLOWER CONTAINERS: The warm sun of late spring heats up the porch and deck and also the flower containers and hanging baskets. The best time to give them a drink of water is just before sunset. Use the water wand for best results and also conserve water. In the spray setting, apply water until it runs through the holes in the bottom of the containers. Do this each evening to keep your flowers healthy. Check the containers and pull out sprouting weeds. Fertilize them with liquid fertilizer every ten days.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at