There's still time this season to plant a veggie garden | Marianne Binetti

The third week of June has summer annual plants filling in the beds, perennials putting on a show and everyone wishing they had planted a vegetable garden.

It’s not too late! Fill some pots with potting soil, dig up some fresh ground and buy vegetable starts this week for a late-summer harvest.

Tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, eggplants and herbs all do well when planted in the last half of June.

This is also a good week to fertilize your roses, annuals and perennials that are having early summer growth spurts. Pull any weeds while you’re at it so they don’t get a chance to flower and go to seed. The easiest way to pull weeds is to do it after a rain when the soil is moist. Lay the weeds on top of the soil and let the sun dry them out for a day. This makes them lighter and easier to haul off to the compost pile.

It may not be the dog days of summer, but for some reason this week features a lot of dog-themed questions.

Q: I live on a wooded lot facing east near Shoreline. I was given a small pink dogwood tree about 10 years ago and it hasn’t grown much. Now some trees have been cut down and it is getting more sun and looking much better. My question is, should I also add some fertilizer?

A: Sure, if you give your dogwood a dose of slow-release plant food such as Osmocote or an organic fertilizer and follow the label directions, you may see even more healthy growth. Most trees and shrubs do not need fertilizing every year, but since your dogwood is putting on new growth because of more sunshine, a extra dose of nutrients wouldn’t be barking up the wrong tree.

Q: What can I do about mushrooms in my lawn?

A: Not much. Give mushrooms a swift kick in the grass to keep them from maturing and spreading their spores, but mushrooms don’t harm the lawn and are just opportunists sprouting up in damp soil that has organic matter below the surface. Often if you dig down below a mushroom patch you will find a buried cedar branch or some other rotting wood. One gardener determined to get to the bottom of his mushroom patch, dug into the soil and uncovered some bones and a leather dog collar. Doggone it! It may be better to just let sleeping dogs lie, not dig into the problem.

Q: I want to put in a groundcover that my two big dogs can run through without damaging. Do you think a thyme groundcover would work?

A: Thymes may be tough, but are not that indestructible. The toughest thyme when it comes to foot or paw traffic is the very tight and low-growing “Elfin Thyme.” It needs really good drainage, so spread a two-inch layer of sharp gravel on the ground before planting plugs or two-inch sections of this low-growing evergreen. If the dogs trample this thyme, consider a pathway of cedar chips instead of plant material. Also sold as playground chips, cedar repels fleas and does not have the splinters that bark and wood chips have.

Send questions for Marianne Binetti to P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, WA 98022. For a reply, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. E-mail:

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