Sally Mullins

We have just passed the longest day of the year, our gardens are growing and we are seeing the results of our labors. Whether it’s flowers or veggies, things are looking good in the garden.

We are all tired of being pent up and limited in our travels. But even though it’s easy to think there isn’t a problem since so many businesses have opened up, don’t take a chance. This virus is not done with us and it is not fun stuff.

Two members of my family in Arizona had it and both recovered, but my brother in law said it was the most painful thing he has ever experienced. If you go out, please use caution, wear a mask and stay a safe distance away from other shoppers.

As much as I hate to mention it, there’s been a problem with contaminated ground meat at the grocery store. With all the problems with the coronavirus, it was inevitable and contaminated greens and veggies could be next.

So please don’t take any chances, buy meat from our local butchers, Hampshire Meats in Shanks, Wayne’s in Fort Ashby and The Farmer’s Daughter in Capon Bridge. And Spring Valley has added a large area with six foot distances between work spaces for the workers, who always wear masks when cleaning vegetables.

So if yours aren’t ready yet, they have salad greens, cukes, tomatoes and many other vegetables at their Romney and Winchester roadside markets where you can shop safely.

Throughout the summer I’m going to discuss ways of preserving your vegetables and maybe even add a simple recipe or two. Let’s begin the season with tomato, cucumber and spring onion salad. Cut your onions, slice your cukes and chop your tomatoes into a bowl (you can also add salad greens if you’d like). We used to add avocados, but we haven’t been out to pick up any this year. Finish it off with some Ken’s Raspberry Walnut dressing and you have a new and different salad.

If you keep some houseplants indoors year-round, be sure they aren’t sitting in the draft of the air-conditioner or in full sun. To make it easy on yourself, put them on the same fertilizing schedule as your outdoor plants.

It’s close to the time Weber’s has their annual half off sale. They’re having smaller percentage off sales now, but I don’t know if they’ll be doing the larger one next month. With everything growing in your yard, it’s easy to see what needs replaced, so this is a good time to buy ornamental grasses, shrubs or perennials.

Take time to look around and find plants that fit your needs and requirements for sun and size. If you see a plant on sale you have wanted but were afraid to try, go for it. Fill in your patio and porch plants with colors that work well together and all the bright annuals you want in the yard.

If you’re ordering end of the season bargains from catalogs or online, beware of places that only use common names rather than their scientific ones. Many areas have their own name for common plants.

We have many in West Virginia for naked ladies or pop up lilies (Lycoris squamigera) and they use different ones right next door in Northern Virginia. Buy from reputable sellers to be sure of what you’re buying or you may very well end up with something you don’t want and can’t use. Cheaper is not always better.

The heat of summer is upon us, so wait until evening or a cloudy day to plant any new arrivals so they’re less stressed. And, don’t forget to protect them as much as possible if those heavy winds come around.

With all the rain we’ve had, ivy and wisteria are growing like crazy, so check around the eaves and gutters to be sure they’re not invading where they don’t belong.

It’s a lot easier to cut them back now rather than later when they’ve taken over. Watch for pests in your outdoor containers and any weeds that develop from seeds that may have blown in.

We all need to become more ecologically aware of what we’re using in the garden and how we’re interacting with the environment.

Pulling weeds can be tedious, but it will drastically cut down on your herbicide use, just do it after a rain when the ground is wet. Reduce or completely discontinue your use of pesticides by using native plants or cultivars bred to be disease resistant.

Any chemicals used around a pond will make their way into the water eventually, so check for those that are fish and wildlife friendly. They are available, so make an effort to find them. And, as always, read the label. If Caution, Warning or Danger are listed on the label, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

Caution represents the lowest level of hazard and Danger, the highest, so read it closely. Look online or ask friends for homemade herbicide or pesticide recipes. Many times they work as well or better than commercial products and they’re cheaper.

If you’re looking for a mid-summer bargain, Weber’s half-off sale starts Friday and runs through July 5. They always have a find or 2.

Questions can be left at the Hampshire Review office or emailed to me at thegardenpath@hotmail.com. Please put “gardening” in the subject box and leave a phone number so I can get back to you if necessary.

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