Gardening in the Valley

Black Mountain News

We are extremely proud to have a monthly  column in The Black Mountain News.  The column is titled Gardening in  the Valley and the author is a member of the committee.  Typically the column is the third Wednesday of each month.  So pick up a copy of the paper.



Also want to thank Rhonda Reedy for her behind the scenes management of the column and working with the paper.   For being a relatively new member, she has already done so much for  our committee.

Committee  members interested in writing an article, please contact Rhonda.  If  you are wondering what to write about, select  a month and we can offer  you some suggestions. 

Current Column

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Helping your garden make it through the hot summer months



About this time of year, you may be looking at a less-than-picture-perfect landscape. Just as you may feel  bedraggled after time in the hot summer sun and higher humidity, your  plants may be suffering from the heat and too much or too little water,  as well any number of pests or diseases.

During  the summer, many of the stars of our gardens are annual plants or  short-lived perennials—both flowering plants and vegetables—that grow  rapidly to put out flowers and produce within a single season.

This  rapid growth applies to weeds as well as desirable plants, and by  mid-July you may have a mess if you didn’t identify the undesirables  when they were young.

Rather than give up on your  garden, take a close look during the cooler morning or evening hours. It  is fine to pull weeds if they are small, but you may disturb the roots  of the plants you want to thrive if you yank large weeds now. 

If weeds are overwhelming, cut them to the ground and put the cuttings in the trash to prevent leaving seeds for more to sprout.

Are your desirable plants still desirable?

Often a bit of grooming will make things look much better and spur further  flowering or vegetable production. Remove dead flower heads, overgrown  veggies or damaged portions of plants. If plants are no longer producing  flowers or fruit because they are stunted or diseased or damaged,  removing the entire plant may be your best option.

If  you didn’t provide slow-release fertilizer or haven’t regularly  fertilized your short-lived summer plants, fertilize your annual flowers  and vegetables now.

Follow the guidelines on your  fertilizer container—don’t use just any old fertilizer you have in your  garden shed—using the wrong fertilizer or too much is more harmful than  not fertilizing at all!

Once  you’ve done your clean-up, consider putting some fresh mulch down after  a rain to help regulate soil temperature and moisture levels and keep  weeds down. If there are bare spots, consider putting in some new plants  now—you may get great bargains on some long-lived perennials that you  can enjoy in years to come—or start thinking about fall vegetable crops.

Some  reliable native perennials with long bloom seasons are yarrow (Achillea  millefolium) and hardy verbenas (Verbena canadensis—many grow  ‘Homestead Purple’, but I prefer the variety ‘Snow Flurry’).

Better yet, if you find keeping up with your garden beds is more than you can  handle, consider planting more shrubs—also often available for late  summer or fall planting at deep discounts.

Many will be low maintenance and can provide multi-season interest with  spring or summer flowers, fall leaf color, and/or interesting bark  during winter. A couple of my favorite native shrubs that fit this  description are witch alder (Fothergilla) and oakleaf hydrangea  (Hydrangea quercifolia). Both are available in dwarf varieties for  smaller spaces.

Best of all, think about the new habits you can form right now to keep your garden looking good all summer.

Do you regularly visit all parts of your landscape? If not, make at least a weekly inspection of your plantings.

This should be an enjoyable wander through your yard to see what’s new—if  you have interesting plants in your garden there should be new flowers  or interesting pollinators or other pleasant surprises to discover! On  this trip, take a minute to pull any young weeds, snap off dead flowers, or note any problems needing attention.

Finally, anytime you walk to the mailbox, get in or out of your car, or go out for a run or walk around the neighborhood, take time to smell the flowers.

Debbie Green has been a member of the Beautification Committee for over 10  years and maintains one of the Committee’s sites in town. She enjoys  gardening with native plants, as well as growing flowers, herbs, and  vegetables. Debbie is also a regular contributor to the Buncombe County  Extension Master Gardener blog at

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