This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
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August 2, 2006

Looking Forward...
Well, it looks as if tonight is our lucky night. A cold front is suppose to move through and we are going to get some much needed rain and cooler temperatures. What a relief! This is certainly going to be a summer to remember. I heard on the news the other day that is was actually 100
˚ in North Dakota. I have a sister who recently moved home ( McPherson, Kansas) from Denver, Colorado. Boy is she having a tough time adjusting to the humidity and prefers staying inside where it is nice and cool. Hang in there sis, fall will be here soon.

I too have lacked the motivation to be outside. Since I have no established gardens to speak of it has been easy for me to avoid the outdoors. I must admit that I do miss looking outside and seeing the color I was used to at the old house. There is something to be said about being in a nice cool place but having an opportunity to peer through the window at the coneflower and black-eyed Susan's - each enjoying the hot August sun. I am afraid I have had enough. Time to move on to cooler days and the thoughts of fall. I hope that Mother Nature will think that it is time to move on as well. I know from the past that August can be very warm and even September as well. Maybe we'll get lucky this year and fall will come early. That would truly be something to look forward to.

~ Shelly  

Stink Bugs On Tomatoes...
When tomatoes on the vine develop white, pink or yellow-gold spots, the likely cause is stinkbugs, according to a Kansas State University horticulturist. Stinkbugs are the skunks of the insect world. Like skunks, these shield-shaped insects emit a foul odor when disturbed, said Ward Upham, who coordinates K-State Research and Extension's Master Gardener program. "A stinkbug injures fruit when it uses its mouthparts to probe for food. That not only affects the tomato's color development but also causes a whitish ‘callous' to develop under the skin at the wound site," Upham said. Typically, the exterior result is an off-color, cloudy spot. If stinkbugs are feeding heavily, however, the entire tomato may develop a gold hue, with pinprick-size puncture wounds in the middle of each of the overlapping spots, he said. "Unfortunately, stinkbug control is basically impossible. By the time you notice the spots, the stinkbugs usually are gone," Upham added. "Fortunately, though, the affected tomatoes are safe to eat."


Growin' Garlic...
Garlic is a cook's best friend.  Home-grown garlic is an extra special treat.  Making sure your garlic is harvested correctly is simple but important:

Garlic should be harvested when the foliage begins to dry.  Using a garden fork or shovel, carefully dig the bulbs with the foliage still attached.  Dry the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray in a warm, well-ventilated location for 3 to 4 weeks.  When properly cured, cut off the dry foliage ˝ to 1 inch above the bulbs, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil.  Place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool (32 to 40°F), dry (60 to 70% relative humidity) location.  Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for 6 to 7 months.


Time To Divide Iris...
There's some very rewarding summer work to be done right now. It's time to divide your irises. After 3 to 5 years of growth irises will become crowded and should be divided so they don't starve each other for soil nutrients. Here's a few simple steps to get the job done:

  1. Cut the leaves back to one-third their length.
  2. Dig the rhizome clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
  3. Cut the rhizomes apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of leaves and firm, white roots.
  4. Discard soft rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of the clump.
  5. Plant the divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny location.
  6. Water immediately and again in ten days if rain is scarce.

Following these steps now allows adequate time for the divisions to get established before winter and also reduces the chance of frost heaving in late winter.


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Pesticide Problem Prevention...
During summer it is especially important to take care when applying pesticides.  If rain has been scarce, make sure you take the time to water your plants several hours before applying pesticides.  You see, drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues and the chemicals that enter the leaves will consequently be more concentrated.  This in turn can lead to an unwanted burn-like condition on the leaves.

A Perfect Pear...
Unlike some crops, pears are usually best when ripened off the tree.  You don't want to wait for the fruit to turn yellowish before picking.  Instead, harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from dark green to lighter green and when it is easily twisted and removed from the spur.

Support Your Fruit...
When fruit on fruit trees starts getting bigger the stress on tree limbs can be substantial.  So much so that your trees may need some extra support to prevent limbs from breaking.  Here are some support suggestions from K-State Extension:

  • Wooden Props - Use one-inch thick boards to prop up limbs. Cut a ‘V’ on the top edge of the board on which the limb will rest so that it doesn’t slip off. Long, heavy limbs may need a prop in the center and another near the outer part of the limb.
  • Belt Webbing - A 2-inch, plastic, belt-like material can be tied to a heavily loaded limb, then to a large diameter limb above for support. Where a large limb is used for support, it is good to have it supporting limbs on opposite sides so the weight is balanced.
  • Taping - Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they breakHeavy twine may be used, but it should be removed when the fruit is picked or soon after so it does not cut into the bark on the limb.


Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty...
Have you discovered an orange dust clinging to your shoes after walking through the lawn? You're not alone.    Rust diseases attack all turfgrasses, but are most often found on susceptible Bluegrass, tall fescue ryegrass and Zoysia in late August and early September. Unlike some other turf fungi, this particular fungus (Puccinia), can do serious damage resulting in thinning and winterkill.  The best protection is healthy turf management, including proper levels of fertilizer, watering, and mowing at the recommended height (normally 3 inches at this time of the year). Avoid night watering.

An application of fungicide may be helpful before the turfgrass enters winter dormancy. The most commonly suggested fungicides for rust control are products such as chlorothalonil (Daconil) and triadimefon ( Bayleton). As always, apply following label directions.

"Green is the fresh emblem of well- founded hopes. In blue the spirit can wander, but in green it can rest"

~ Mary Webb

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