Many of you ask questions about your garden, plants, and how to harvest or store things you’ve picked through the season. In an effort to share information with everyone, I’ll try to post some tips here on a regular basis. Let me know if you find them helpful.

Now is the time to trim your lilacs and other spring flowering shrubs. Do not wait much longer. These early flowering shrubs set buds later this season for the early spring flowers. Waiting too late will prevent them from having time to grow the buds or you could also risk cutting them off. Late pruning is the number one reason for very few or no flowers in the spring. It’s a simple process to prune them using the two thirds method. First, cut up to one third off the height and width to get the shape you desire. Next, trim one third of the branches (select one out of three and keep going) to just a couple of feet tall. This second step promotes new growth down low on the plant. That’s how easy it is – just be sure to water well for a couple of weeks after so much pruning.

It is also time to give your vegetables and herbs some attention. It’s been cold, hot, windy, wet, and everything in between, so take a look at your plants and take action to keep them happy and healthy. Herbs may be flowering, so trim them back to help keep the leafy growth coming. Allowing the flowers to grow takes a lot of energy and also promotes seed setting / dropping.

Disinfect your pruners with rubbing alcohol and trim the lowest and biggest leaves off your tomato plants. This helps keep lower leaves from getting splashed with soil that can contribute to disease, and it allows the plant to redirect energy into new growth. If you use fertilizer, compost, or organic amendments, it’s time to apply them. Make sure that you use something with calcium for the tomatoes to prevent blossom end rot and keep your watering regular so the plants can access and use that calcium.

If you have greens growing, consider how much sun they’re getting and see if you can find a way to provide some afternoon shade to keep them happy. Give your greens a good source of nitrogen or side-dress with a compost mix.

Look through your pepper plants to see if there are huge leaves at the base of the plants. If so, trim them off at the stem. This, again, keeps them from having soil contact and reduces diseases. All of the pepper plants here have had a side-dress of compost due to so much rain leaching nutrients through the soil. This has perked them up considerably!

Deadhead the spent blooms off your flowers to tidy the plants and allow them to store some energy for future flowers. I especially trim long, floppy peony stems to tidy up the plants and keep them looking great all summer. Plants like daisies, coneflowers, and many other perennials will re-bloom if deadheaded and watered well. If you’re growing tall sedum or asters, you can trim them back by one third to one half now to keep them shorter and promote more flowers this fall. The plants will stay a little shorter, become bushier with smaller flower heads and stay standing through more fall and winter weather (instead of flopping over).

These are tasks on my list for the week, and some are underway. Pruning tomatoes is definitely a labor of love and takes time. The return on the investment is extremely high, though. This first pruning is light; focusing on the lower portion of the plants. Later, we will talk about a heavier pruning for better light and air throughout the plant and it will promote flowering and fruiting. Another day…

Hope you are all well and enjoyed today’s tips! If you have questions, please stop by and we can chat or you can send a message. Comments are turned off, sadly, because of spammers. Go forth and grow!!

By Amy