MIDDLEPORT — The joy of gardening along with the trials and tribulations of getting it right was the theme of a program presented by John Marra, WSAZ agriculture specialist, in a question and answer forum hosted by the Riverbend Art Council.
Included in the discussion was everything from pruning to pesticides, from deer deterrents to determining planting locations to coordinating colors to the surroundings.
He advised that anything that blooms before June needs to be pruned right after the last bloom falls, and said that “if you don’t control the growth of the shrub by pruning it, it will soon control you.” He specifically mentioned lilacs, wisteria, rhododendron and azaleas as plants that thrive after being pruned.
As for fertilizer use, Marra stressed lime as the best to control acidity in the soil and recommended the use of pellets as the best bet because because it reacts on soil twice as fast as hydrated lime which can be toxic. For pesticides, he advised the importance of identifying the pest before applying a pesticide and don’t use one unless you really have to.
“Tomatoes need lime for good growth,” he said noting that now is the time to set tomato plant out in the garden. Varieties were discussed and Marra said his favorite if any one which has “mountain” in the name. Beefsteak was also mentioned. As for “suckering” always use a sharp knife was his recommendation.
Mulch with long and large pieces is best to use because it keeps the cats in the neighborhood from thinking it’s a little box, while holding the moisture in the soil. As for insecticide, the end of July is the best time and to kill honeysuckle and poison Ivy, he recommended Round-Up.
“Most people go to a nursery to buy plants without knowing where they’re going to plant something and that’s a bad idea,” he said. He recommended that before jumping in and buying a lot of things and then going home and wondering where you’re going to plant what, that you determine colors which fit into the environment and where you are going to plant what being sure it fits into the landscaping. To deter deer damage to plants, he suggested stretching a fishing line around the plot.
In appreciation Mary Wise, president of the Riverbend Art Council, presented a floral painting by Rochelle McClure to the speaker
Several area businesses displayed flowers and gardening materials, a variety of door prizes relating to gardening were awarded., and refreshments were served to the hundred or so residents attending the free community program.