I think it is too hot to even type this
newsletter. I have been running errands all day and can
feel the strain that the heat has put on my body. In and out, in
and out of stores trying to be productive. One of my errands
included buying myself a hedge trimmer. Yes indeed - pretty
excited by that purchase. I am a little apprehensive I must
confess. I have never had a hedge before so when it comes time
to do some trimming it will be my first. Oh sure,
I have pruned shrubs, trees, you name it,
but to actually have an electric hedge trimmer is like,
" Yikes, I hope I don't cut too much off in one area and not
enough in another." It should be
interesting. I'll have Kevin take pictures.
I had a
good friend over for dinner the last week and I was showing her
one of my only pots I planted this summer. Everything in it is
completely dead. You saw it for yourself in
last weeks photos. She asked me if I was embarrassed and I
said no. I am like so many other gardeners who do not care this
time of the year whether things live or die. It becomes a
survival of the fittest if you will. After so many days at 100+
what else is there to do? I'm staying
inside for now but will use my hedge trimmer soon.
Lush Lawns Are Looming...
Fall is just around the corner and there's no better time of
year to renovate your lawn. Take a hard look at your grass and
decide just how much work you have ahead of you.
- If you
just need to thicken it up, a round
of over-seeding will probably do the trick. To ensure good
seed to soil contact you might want to make use of a
verticutter. This handy machine, which can be rented locally,
makes nice vertical cuts in your existing lawn and soil. Over
this cutting you can broadcast your seeds. Seeds should find
their way into the soil where they will germinate nicely.
other year or so you should try core aerating your
lawn. Doing so will control and prevent problems such as
thatch and soil compaction. Core aerating machines will pull
up numerous plugs of soil about the diameter of a pencil,
making holes into the lawn. Leave the plugs on the surface and
work the lawn as usual.
- If your
lawn is so overridden with perennial weeds or you're ready to
try a new type of grass altogether you will need to eliminate
what's there with Round Up or other appropriate herbicide.
Once the grass and weeds are dead use a verticutter or roto-tiller
to prepare the soil for new seed.
about weeds - If crabgrass is appearing in your lawn in mid
to late summer, remember that it's an annual and will die-off as
temperatures drop later this fall. For perennial weeds it is
best to delay herbicide applications until a newly planted lawn
has been mowed at least 3 times. This gives the new grass time
to mature to a point where it is not so sensitive to the weed
It Smells Like What?...
Gardeners often choose flowers for their fragrance but what if
the flower smells like, "...several days-old road kill on a hot,
sunny day." ? That's Virginia Tech Greenhouse Curator
Debbie Wiley-Vawter's description of Amorphophallus
titanum - also known as the Corpse Plant. The plant
emits a stench to attract decaying flesh-eating beetles, flies
and sweat bees for pollination. Once it blooms, the odor lingers
for about eight hours, then it takes several more years before
the plant has enough energy to bloom again. Ms. Wiley-Vawter's
just bloomed to much attention (and presumably nose-pinching).
Tech Biological Sciences has posted a
diary (with photos) that chronicles the recent bloom cycle.
You'll find lot's of interesting facts there as well.
Helpful Harvest Hints...
Vegetable harvest can be confusing - especially if
you're still new at it. Here are some quick tips to help with a
few local favorites:
onions after the tops yellow and fall, then cure them in
a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. The necks should be free of
moisture when fully cured in about a week's time.
potatoes after the tops yellow and die. Potatoes also
need to be cured before storage.
beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage
sweet corn when kernels are plump and ooze a milky juice
when punctured with your fingernail. If the liquid is watery,
you're too early; if the kernels are doughy, you're too late.
Waste Not, Want Not...
Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to
preventing drips in our faucets and other indoor
plumbing. For some reason however we are ready to ignore
dribbles and trickles in our garden hoses and spigots. Unless
those leaks are falling right where moisture is needed (not
likely) it is simply a waste of water. Depending on the rate of
the leak it is entirely possible to waste hundreds of gallons
of water every day. In most cases it's a matter of simply
tightening hose connections and fittings. Applying Teflon tape
to threaded connectors will stop more stubborn leaks. It may
also be time to replace that old leaky hose altogether.
Getting Ready For Winter...
While it may be August it's
actually time for your trees and shrubs to start preparing for
winter. They've got some tough conditions to prepare for and it
begins now. The best thing you can do to help is lay off the
fertilizer. Fertilizing now will only stimulate late growth that
won't have time to harden-off properly before winter. Keep
watering however. You still want to keep them alive after all!
Thump Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers probably have some pretty big fruit by
now. You don't want to harvest your melons too early! Just
check for these tell-tale indicators of ripeness:
underside ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow.
tendril closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels.
- The rind
loses its gloss and appears dull.
melon produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when
Savvygardeners growing warm-season grasses like zoysia should
make their last application of fertilizer this week. Fertilizing
into fall can interfere with the all important hardening-off
process that prepares the grass for winter.
"If you really want
to draw close to your garden, you must remember first of all
that you are dealing with a being that lives and dies; like a
human body, with its poor flesh, its illnesses at times
repugnant. One must not always see it dressed up for a ball,
manicured and immaculate."