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Summer is coming, and plants are thirsty

June 10, 2011
By H.I. Jean Shields, Garden Club of Cape Coral

By H. I. Jean Shields

Special to The Breeze

Believe it or not the official date for summer is two weeks away. Obviously our daily temperatures in the 90s feel like summer has arrived, but NOT.

Hurricane season officially started June 1. The new Cape Coral Fertilizer Ordinance officially went into effect June 1. Lake Okeechobee is officially several inches lower than usual, already. However, summer has not arrived, officially.

The weather gods are saying we may be receiving much needed rains from a tropical disturbance a few hundred miles away. They are also noticing that high level winds are in place to shred any actual storm formation. That is even better. We need rain, not a storm.

You will know about the rains by the time you read this column. In the meantime we can do a couple of other pre-summer projects.

We can concentrate on getting ready for hurricane season and reading up on our fertilization regulations, as we wait for everything else to fall into place for the next four months.

Everyone should already be on their proper water restriction schedule. That has not changed as yet, this year. However, City Council is making noises about possible changes in address scheduling and watering times. We may know more about this by the time you read this column.

I do watering twice a week year round. Sometimes even less. Right now my lawn does not look so good. Across the street a property has been re-sodded and a lot of watering is going on. New sod is allowed lots of watering, however that makes the neighbors yards look pretty bad.

I have faith though that we will all look good as soon as the summer rains come. Too bad we cannot depend on an official rain date.

Go to some hurricane seminars; they are interesting, not real scary, and it does pay to know what to do and where to go. Hurricanes can be a very serious problem if you do not stay informed. Look for hurricane books available through the newspapers, and stores.

Read up on the new fertilizer ordinance. Waterfront property owners especially need to know about their fertilizerfree zone, restricted season and times and application practices. What and why to use or not to use and remember the ordinance applies to the private homeowner as well as commercial companies.

The low maintenance "buffer" zone along canals and lakes will go a long way in protecting the water quality of Cape Coral.

The city has made available a nice little fertilizer ordinance pamphlet. Anyone can pick one up at City Hall. I had to ask two employees if there was a pamphlet available. They said yes but were not sure where it was. I did find them after a long walk in the nice cool building.

When you go in the front door, see the stash of flyers and phamplets on display. If they are gone ask someone at the code counter. It is Ordinance No. 86-10.

We have had so much dry air and hot winds blowing the past month that anything growing in a pot just cannot keep up with enough moisture to grow well.

I have been watering every day instead of every other or even three days as I usually do.

If pot growers are not doing this extra watering, they better check out there to make sure their plants are not drying up. It is easy to miss the fact that the roots are just too dry and by the time you notice the dried up plants it may be too late to save them.

I usually watch my coleus. When they start to weaken, I know it is time to check everything. The coleus themselves will pop right back to life following a good watering, but will become weakened for good if this happens over and over.

I have a large peace lily that gets droopy fast. I am so glad that is another plant that will pop back up with a good watering.

Geraniums usually do not like a lot of water, however right now they need more water; make sure water drains right out the bottom.

I use rain barrel water for orchids. They need their water in the early morning and it must be free draining. You have to know your orchids in order to understand how much watering is needed and which ones need some food. They are not all the same. Of course, if you have five orchids all the same, then you get off easy.

I do not have all the same, so I have to keep my favorite orchid book right where I can find it, for reference. As long as I have two or three blooming, I am happy. I love when I go around to one side of the house where my only tree with limbs is, and there is my cattleya, in bloom.

My system for that great plant is easy enough. When I find it blooming, I hang it in the lanai. The rest of its life I leave it alone out there in the tree. A hot spring like this year may make it a little thirstier, but I will wait. I am not going to out guess Mother Nature.

I am trying daylilies this year. I always thought of them as "Northern" flowers.

I noticed last year that there were a few beds of daylilies growing in the medians.

Anything that can grow there has got to be one tough plant. So I have two, in different colors. One seems happy and blooming a lot, the other one on the other side of the driveway is not as prolific, but OK.

I went to the annual Hibiscus Show in Fort Myers last weekend. I managed not to buy a single one. There were several hundred other people their buying many.

I just love a room full of hibiscus blooms setting around by the hundreds in their little containers. Their show is always early June, on a Sunday and is free.

Gardeners should put this one on their calendars for next year.

I have one more tiny green pepper on my bell pepper plant and am still harvesting cherry tomatoes from my one vine. The tomato plant is looking worn out but still making delicious tomatoes.

Maybe next year my veggie garden will have more than two items. I do get some friendly jokes about my veggie duo every year, but it works for me.

So gardeners, do what you want and are able to do in this pre-summer period because soon things will be changing, that is official.

H. I. Jean Shields is a past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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