Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

New gardening trend: The second planting

The title of my column has been changed to Growing Up. The content will always involve something about gardening or outdoor living but, the new title affords a little freedom to throw in some personal metaphors here and there. For certain, members of my family will nervously check the paper each week.

It's happened to all of us. We've prepared our gardens, planted a variety of annuals, perennials, and vegetables with great expectations about what the finished product will look like. Unfortunately, a wet spring, too little or too much sun, an infestation of pests and a variety of other problems may have worked against us. It's common to lose a certain percentage of our gardens to these 'issues' but take heart, there is an answer!

Think of the second planting like frosting on a cake. Once you've identified areas that are currently under performing then identify what happened. For me, I know I planted my cucumbers too early. They are the victims of a late frost and a lack of sunlight. When I planted them, the leaves on my trees had just begun to emerge and I underestimated the shade they promised. This week I cut them back, transplanted them to a really sunny area and I'm hoping for the best. That being said, if you have plants that are not growing, showing signs of pests or lacking general color it's important to move them in the evening to an area that they will perform.

Plants do give us warning signs that something is wrong before it is too late. We just have to pay attention to them and make appropriate changes. Proper watering, sunlight, soil amendment and fertilization this time of year is crucial.

If you've tried all of the above or you just want to give your gardens a boost, think about a second planting. Annuals, perennials and vegetable plants that have been growing in greenhouses are still available.

A few additions of new plant material can fill out an existing bed that will complete your vision. We are so fortunate to have a long growing season. I've had blooms in my yard and veggies in the garden until the end of October so planting in July is not too late!

Here are a few plants I suggest for your second planting:

One gallon containers of Osteospermum, Dahlia, Cosmo, Aster, Zinnia, Argyranthemum, Marigolds, Saliva or Geranium; One gallon containers of Tomatoes; Parsley, Oregano, Chives, Basil, Cilantro; Hanging baskets of petunias used near a front door or remove the hanger and place the entire container in an empty patio pot.

The late introduction of large sized plants will make the garden look more complete because the plant will adequately fill the space and appear equal to established plantings.

Jim Gainan is VP/Shareholder of Gainan's Flower and Garden Center in Billings. Questions or comments? Email Jim Gainan @