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What to do in your Iowa garden this month

By Veronica Lorson Fowler
The Iowa Gardener, www.theiowagardener.com
Summer is here and gardens have kicked into full gear. Get out and enjoy them!
• Harvest as much of your cool-season spring vegetables now. Once weather hits, lettuces get bitter, peas get tough, and radishes get woody.
• If you planted pansies, they’ll start to fade in early summer heat. Replace them with warm-season annual flowers, such as geraniums, marigolds, and impatiens.
• You can prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as lilacs, now since they’re done flowering.
• Weed, weed, weed! Try to time your weeding for the day or two after a rain. It makes getting the roots and all much easier.
• After weeding, mulch to prevent weeds from returning. I recommend one to three inches of wood chip (aged, never fresh) mulch around plantings.
• You can divide perennials that bloom in spring now, as needed or desired. Hold off on dividing those that bloom in late summer or fall. For them, it’s too close to show time!
• Deadhead flowers on annuals, perennials, and some shrubs. It keeps your garden more attractive and in many cases, it will encourage more flowers longer.
• Continue to plant container-grown or balled-and-burlapped trees, shrubs, and roses now. However, avoid planting bare-root roses and other bare-root plants. This late in the season, they’ll struggle to get established. (Avoid purchasing bare-root roses now on sale at some garden centers. They usually are too far along and too weakened to successfully transplant.)
• Time to practice tough love. If a tree or shrub is still struggling with winter damage or overall sickness, with significant amounts of dead wood, it’s almost certainly time to dig it up or cut it down.
• Remove the browning foliage of tulips and daffodils once it pulls away easily. Until then, the plant is using it rejuvenate for next year.
• Cut back mums and tall asters to about half their height. They tend to be floppy
with many small flowers. A prun-
ing now will help them produce
larger, bigger flowers on stronger stems.

Veronica Lorson Fowler lives in Ames and is the author of several garden books, including “Gardening in Iowa” published by the University of Iowa Press. Subscribe to her free electronic Iowa gardening newsletter or ask her your garden questions at www.theiowagardener.com.