Gardening: Not too late to add things to your garden

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

While some folks get their planting done in spring and go on to other things in summer, I’m always on the hunt for green treasures and so I plant throughout the seasons. Here are a few tips for planting in the dog days of summer.

■Water the planting area or potting soil well a day or so before you plant – planting in dry soil can damage the plant’s roots. But planting in soppy soil damages the soil’s structure. To wet potting soil, mix 3 parts soil to 1 part water.

■ Also water the plants, trees and shrubs well before planting. I soak the root balls for several minutes in a large tub of water that’s allowed to stand overnight. If you use city water, this gives the chlorine time to evaporate and the water to warm. To give the plants a great start, I make it into a starter solution using 1/4 teaspoon of the vitamin solution Superthrive and 1 tablespoon liquid kelp (also called seaweed) to a gallon of water. While you can add organic or other slow-release fertilizers when planting, pass on water-soluble chemicals, which are high in salts. Annual flowering plants and vegetables benefit from fertilizing, but perennials and trees are often overfed by growers to make them look lush when they go to market. Water and the right amount of sun are what they need to become established.

■The best time to plant when temperatures climb into the 80s or higher is in early morning when plants are full of moisture and not stressed from heat. On a windy day a protective covering, such as large basket or an umbrella, will help protect the plant from windburn.

■After planting, encircle the plant with a 2-inch raised ridge of soil to channel water directly to the roots of the plant when watering.

■To convert an old lampshade into a protective cloche, remove the cover material and wrapping the metal frame with nylon tulle.

Timely tip: Now is a great time to get those cutting tools sharpened. If you don’t sharpen them on a regular basis, it’s best to have a professional do the job. Check with your local hardware store to find a professional. Gary Campbell stands ready put a keen edge on your pruners and kitchen knives at the Rochester Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and at the Birmingham Farmers Market on Sundays.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at