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Garden Help Desk: Stay safe in the garden this summer

By USU Extension - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 15, 2024
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A good garden hat will keep you cooler by keeping your face, head and neck in the shade.
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Raised garden beds can make gardening safer and more comfortable because it's easier to keep walkways clear and level.
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This dracaena had outgrown it's location. The tallest stem was pruned out and rooted, leaving the stem on the left as the tallest stem.
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It can take some cuttings quite a while to develop roots. A few months after the tallest stem on this plant was dipped in rooting hormone and tucked into moist perlite, the rooted cutting was ready to be planted back in with its mother plant. It's the shortest stem on the left.
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Many plants have latent buds on their stems that can begin to sprout if the top of the stem is removed. A nice bonus!

Do you have some tips for gardening in hot weather?

The best tip I can give you about gardening in the heat is: Don’t!

Plan your garden tasks for the cool hours of the morning if you can or for the hour or two after sunset if you can’t get out into the landscape in the morning. An hour or two every morning or evening is safer and more enjoyable than an all-day marathon session in the sun while trying to get a week’s worth of gardening done all at once.

We can expect warmer summers to be a part of our new gardening reality. Two weeks ago, we talked about how to help your garden plants during hot summer weather. This week, let’s look at some tips for helping ourselves by making gardening safer, easier and more enjoyable in the future.

The first tip is a simple, no-effort tip. Get in the habit of taking a bottle of water with you when you go out to do any yard work or gardening.

Tip No. 2 is another simple one: Always take your cellphone with you when you’re doing any yard work.

An easy third tip: Take some portable shade with you when you’re working outside. If there’s any chance you’ll be out in the sun before you finish things that can’t wait for tomorrow, put on a hat. Your hat should shade your face and ears and the back of your neck.

Other things you can do to make the time you spend in your yard and gardens safer and more comfortable will take a little more planning and effort.

Organize a bucket, basket or small caddy where you can carry your most-used hand tools. When you’re trying to beat the heat, you don’t want to waste time going back and forth between your flower bed or vegetable garden to your shed or garage for tools. Your tool caddy is a great place to carry your water bottle or mobile phone, too.

If your vegetable garden isn’t a raised bed garden, consider making a change so there will be less stooping and bending while gardening. Raised beds will also make it easy to maintain safe, efficient, well-defined walkways.

Use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers or hoses; you’ll reduce tripping hazards, and you’ll also know the water you use is going where it’s needed. Plus, you’ll have fewer weeds to deal with! Make sure drip tubes and emitters are secured out of the walkways.

Take a look around your yard and garden. Do you see any changes you can make to improve your time in your garden? Even tiny changes to the garden tasks you do again and again can make a big difference in your gardening routines.

Patience pays off

Today we have a follow-up on a question from last winter.

We had a question about how to solve the problem of a very leggy dracaena. It had outgrown its space, and the owners were looking for the best way to shorten the plant so it would still fit in the original space. Should they take and root a cutting from the tallest stem to shorten the plant, or should they do air-layering? You can read more about the original question at https://tinyurl.com/58ptu9cj.

One important part of vegetative propagation — taking and rooting cuttings, doing air layering, in addition to doing divisions with perennials — is patience. Taking a cutting doesn’t take much time, but after that it’s up to the cutting to do the work, and that takes time.

Today’s photos include a before picture of the original leggy dracaena plus two after pictures — one of the rooted cutting that was taken from the top of the stem, and another picture showing new growth starting at the top of the cut stem. Proof that patience when gardening (indoors or out) pays off!

Many thanks to the generous gardeners who took the time to share the results of their project.

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