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Go with the flow for care of plants

First we had the winter that never quite took hold. Then we had a hot March, cold April, dry May and an up-and-down June that have a lot of gardeners scratching their heads.

If you’re singing the What Should I Do in the Garden blues, you are not alone.

Even the experts – including professionals – don’t have a lot of ready answers when months don’t resemble themselves.

This will be a bad year locally for apples, and some berries aren’t looking good. Many gardeners without irrigation are seeing puny corn stubs instead of cornstalks. Many daylilies are peaking way too early, which does not bode well for July and August.

Yet the tomatoes at Dirt Cottage are looking better and setting earlier than they did last year, and fellow We’re Digging It blogger and Journal Gazette photojournalist Cathie Rowand was harvesting cucumbers early last week.

Might I add that 2012 is a banner year for weeds?

I don’t baby most plants. I want oak trees that stand up on their own and don’t whine. I want redbuds that shade the old teak bench out back, not beg for water. I deadhead the daylilies that bloom and come back, like the cheery yellow Stella d’Oro, but not the common orange ones that offer one spectacular show each year.

So, what should you do? I’m going to go with the Go With the Flow method.

Is it hot and dry?

•If the heavens don’t give us an inch of rain a week, then get out there and give your favorite plants about that much. Plants in pots can dry out even faster, so give them a drink when they begin to wilt.

•I ripped up newspapers and layered them in the pot to mulch the tomato plants after they got a good drink so that they don’t get too stressed the rest of the season.

Is it wet and cold?

•I shouldn’t have to say this, but turn off the automatic sprinkler.

•Cool, soggy days are prime time for repotting and doing hot jobs like pulling out overgrown shrubs.

•Mulch around plants.

•Weed.

Is it cool and dry?

•Mow while you have the chance.

•Clean the gutters and do general cleanup.

•You can deadhead blossoms any time they are looking faded, but cool and dry days are good for the gardener.

Is it hot and wet?

•Tend to the houseplants and sip a cold beverage of choice.

Anne Gregory is a garden putterer, not a gardening expert, and The Journal Gazette Web writer and editor. Share your garden photos (JPEGs, please) and gardening tips. They may be sent to agregory@jg.net. Put "Garden" in the subject line. Items may also be sent to Gregory at 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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