We always are told to read the label and directions before using any product. I am guilty of "if all else fails read the directions."

Generally that is not a problem, but it can lead to major problems. A garden friend had a lovely yellow hosta of which he was very proud. He mulched no more than 2 inches around it, but it died.

Wherever the foliage touched the mulch that leaf and eventually the entire plant died. The mulch was PREEN Mulch Plus that contains a pre-emergence herbicide specifically for broadleaf weeds and annual grasses.

PREEN is a good product and, when used properly, it is beneficial. This is a case of how important it is to read the directions and follow them. The directions state remove weeds, apply 2 inches of mulch, and wait two weeks before planting. It cautions to pull back the mulch before digging the planting hole and to avoid letting any of the mulch into the hole. Mulch should be beyond foliage tips as it kills anything that it touches. The pre-emergence is effective for six months.

Go to www.preen.com/products/preen-mulch-plus for a lengthy list of compatible plants.

The mulch ingredients include Trifluralin, isoxaben, fuller's earth, crystaline silica and wood bark(not specified). Trifluralin is a widely used herbicide ingredient that inhibits root development by blocking seed germination. Isoxaben inhibits cool and warm weather seed germination but is not as effective on annual grasses, but considered safe on some perennials including hosta. Fuller's earth is an oil absorbent clay so named for its ability to clean or "full" lanolin from wool.

Reading directions before using also applies to products you have used in the past. Ingredients and usages can and do often change. It is better to take a few minutes to make sure the product is used correctly than to lose a favorite plant.

Things to do

"Walk through the yard once a day and admire your handiwork. Check also for any problems … Most garden problems are resolved more quickly if they're caught early." - Judy Lowe, contemporary garden writer.

• Deep water in-ground plants and container plants one or two times a day as needed. Invert 2-liter bottles of water into the soil to provide moisture during the day. Green bottles are less noticeable.

• Garden - Pull completely dried daylily stalks and foliage. Propagate dianthus by layering. Divide bearded iris before the end of the month.

Fertilize container perennials with slow-release fertilizer or apply liquid fertilizer every 10 days. If powdery mildew on zinnias is minor ignore it, otherwise rogue out the plants. Check out sale plants at nurseries.

• Vegetables - Mulch between rows to keep soil moist, cool and vegetables clean. Provide support for sweet potatoes and squash vines.

After tomatoes reach golf ball size work in tomato fertilizer or one tablespoon ammonium nitrate every two weeks. For container grown tomatoes apply three inches from the stem and water in thoroughly.

Pinch off basil flowers. It is not too late to plant black-eyed peas, pepper, pumpkin, and tomato, and a second crop of beets, cabbage, and kale for fall harvest.

• Events

July 10, Small Space Gardening, McCracken County Extension Office, 9-11 a.m. No fee, registration encouraged, not required. Contact: maggiemorgan@jpf.org.

July 20, Herb Appeal, McCracken Co. Extension Office. Begins at noon. Registration $25 includes five-year cookbook. Limited registration. For more information: 270-554-9520.

July 24, Leaf Casting and Concrete Pots Workshop, Lyon County Extension Office. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Limited to 10, fee $5. For more information: 270-388-2341.

Contact Carolyn Roof, the Sun's gardening columnist, at carolynroof02@gmail.com.

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