Haven't the last couple of days just been great?
Mild temperatures, low humidity and even some cloud cover. I
actually was able to spend some time outside in my own gardens
doing some general clean up and cutting back. Thanks for the fun
emails about me and the purchase of my new hedge trimmer. I used
it and absolutely had a blast! Ok, maybe a blast is a little
over the top but it was fun. I would trim a bit, step back, trim
a bit more
I felt like an artist. Of course that's funny in itself
considering drawing stick-people is a
challenge for me. I guess it is a good thing I can garden.
starting to make a few outdoor changes
to the house. For the most part
we have completed settling in and I am just champing at
the bit to get outside. I am really cutting things back. There
is a lot of English ivy and euyonomous that desperately need to
be cut back and killed off. It is growing out of control and I
am not an out of control type gardener. So for now that is one
of my goals - to
prepare the beds for planting bulbs and shrubs. Lots to
do but I am excited nonetheless.
Honk If You Have Hornworms...
Tomato hornworms are serious garden pests. They like to eat
the leaves of tomato plants and will do so completely to the
mid-rib of the leaf. Fortunately they can be dealt with without
drenching the entire plant in pesticide. The trick is early
detection and removal. While it's hard to see a green
caterpillar on a green leaf the black droppings from the
caterpillar are a bit more obvious. When you see the droppings
look closely for the caterpillar and remove it immediately.
K-State Extension rates tall fescue varieties for color,
green-up, quality and texture. They have 160 different cultivars
of tall fescue in their Tall Fescue Cultivar Trial near Wichita.
Quality ratings are taken once a month from March through
October. (The old standby K-31 consistently rates at the bottom
by the way.)
highest-rated named cultivars from last year's trials were:
Each of these
varieties averaged a rating of at least 5.0 on a scale of 0 to
9, with 9 being optimum quality. There were no statistically
different ratings for any of these cultivars. At the end of the
summer, Avenger, Finelawn Elite and Inferno had the finest
texture. Keep in mind that mixes of several varieties may allow
you to take advantage of differing strengths. It is not
necessary for mixes to contain only the varieties mentioned
They're Not Locusts...
It's that time of year when the din of the
singing cicadas makes it nearly impossible to hold a conversation
outdoors. It's also that time of year that people invariably
refer to these noisy insects as "locusts". Trust us, they
are not locusts. Locusts are actually a type of
grasshopper and have some significant traits that, fortunately,
we do not experience with cicadas:
Locusts tend to travel in swarms.
Fifteen to thirty million adult locusts inhabit each
square mile of a swarm.
- Each locust
weighs less than one tenth of an
ounce, but eats
its weight in food each day. In a
single day, one ton of locusts, a very small part of a
swarm, consumes enough food for 2,500
by contrast feed only during the underground portion of their
life cycle. They feed on tree roots and do not consume
enough to harm the host plant.
To Divide Iris...
Late summer is ideal for
dividing, moving and planting iris. The
old foliage wilting from the summerís
heat can be trimmed back at least halfway. Trimming also helps
when dividing iris to prevent moisture loss while the plants get
established. Follow these simple steps
to divide your iris plants:
- Dig Iris with a
potato fork, being careful not to damage the rhizome.
- With a sterile
knife, cut the rhizome vertically. Each division should be
approximately 2 inches long with 2-3 fans.
- Dig a shallow
hole mounded in the middle and spread the roots around the
- Set the plant
with fans facing to the outside of the garden to make room for
- Fill the hole
with soil, being careful to leave rhizomes partially exposed,
and water well.
- Water the newly
planted iris regularly if the weather is hot and dry
being careful to avoid overwatering.
Bagworms, caterpillars that weave a small
silky bag with leaf and stick pieces attached, have been
actively feeding for some time now. By August, the bags can be
over an inch long and can do considerable damage in a short
time. They can strip a shrub or small tree completely of foliage
in what seems like a couple of days. Pick the bags off as soon
as you notice them or treat them with a spray containing
spinosad. Bags will eventually reach 2 inches and if left to
mature, male moths emerge from the bag later in the season,
mating with females who never leave their bag. Each female can
lay up to a thousand eggs, which remain in the bag until they
hatch in the spring. It is a very good idea to remove and
destroy bags any time of the year.
Look Out For Lacebugs...
Continue to monitor azalea, pyracantha and Japanese andromeda
for the presence of lacebugs. Populations of these insects can
explode during the summer months, and left unchecked, may send
susceptible plants into a downward spiral of decline. Plantings
in full sun always fare worse, so check these most often. If you
find more than two or three lacebugs per leaf, prepare an
application of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Be sure to
spray the entire plant upper and lower leaf surfaces for best
Oh Say Can You
Yes you can! The best time to start new
cool-season grass seed is late summer/early fall. Considering
the trend toward lower-than-average temperatures this summer you
may want to get started soon. Seeding this time of year takes
advantage of warm weather for proper seed germination while
allowing the new turf to thrive as the temperatures cool into
"It's difficult to
think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown