The Whistling Gardener: "Good Monday Morning"

What a fabulous weekend. Hope you all made time to work in the yard, getting the lawn mowed and the weeds pulled and the beds prepped to plant all the summer jewels that await you at the garden center.
Steve Smith talks about issues in the garden this first week of June. Photo credit: Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

What a fabulous weekend. Hope you all made time to work in the yard, getting the lawn mowed and the weeds pulled and the beds prepped to plant all the summer jewels that await you at the garden center. This is the month to turn our yards into gardens and summer retreats. Be it flowers or veggies or berries or fruit trees or major landscaping projects, this is the month to get with the program. Call in sick if you need to but find time to whip things into shape.

I have noticed several issues in my garden that warrant sharing with you all. First, the moles are on the move. Youngsters have been booted from the den and are looking for new territory to claim. I have terminated two moles this week, one via dumb luck and the other with a trap. Mole Max is a good repellent (all mole repellents contain castor oil) but for maximum satisfaction there is nothing that beats the joy of finding a dead mole in a trap. I know it sounds gross (and I admit this is probably a guy thing) but trapping moles is the only sure fire way to eliminate them from our gardens. And Cinch Traps are the absolute best trap on the market. Come on in and we will show you how to set them.

Slugs are munching away with gay abandon. I saw two ginormous cinnamon colored slugs the other evening having a field day on one of my hostas. Smaller relatives are out there in force as well and it is imperative that we bait for these slimy creatures early and often or we will pay the price later in the season. Sluggo is completely safe for us to use around pets and children but lacks the satisfaction of seeing the carnage the following day of application. Corry’s Deadline is more toxic but is strong in the department of immediate gratification. You can decide which product meets your needs, we sell them both.

Summer veggies: I had a customer this weekend actually ask if it was too late to plant corn. Not so! Knee high by the 4th of July is the mantra we have all grown up with but even that is not written in stone. Starts of beans and corn are a nice way to get a jump on the season but both of these crops can be planted this month from seed and they will do just fine. The missus planted some pole beans last week and they are already sprouted so no need to panic.

Red thread in the lawn: even though my lawn looks pretty darn awesome I couldn’t help but notice that I have some red thread forming in spots. Ladies probably couldn’t care less but for us guys this is a calamity. Treating with either a synthetic or natural fungicide and fertilizing with an organic fertilizer will solve this dilemma in just 10 days. In fact, the appearance of red thread is a good indicator that it is time to fertilize anyway so pick up some of our organic lawn food and kill two birds with one application. (It’s on sale if that helps).

Flowering cherries: actually, whether flowering or fruiting cherries, this is the time to cut out the dead wood from the earlier infestations of twig blight, remove any suckers from below grafts, and fertilize with a good tree and shrub fertilizer. It is too late to spray so don’t waste your money on those kind of products (unless you buy them now and remember to apply them next fall and early spring).

Our “June” annuals have arrived so now is the time to come in and pick up a summer thriller like bougainvillea or hibiscus or lantana or elephant ears or a red tropical banana (which will double in size by fall) and make the neighbors marvel at your horticultural expertise. Remember that gardening is as much theater as it is horticulture.

Happy gardening,

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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