Home For The Weekend...
We visited McPherson Kansas this past weekend for a family
reunion. It was fun to see cousins I haven't seen in awhile and
share stories of growing up. The weather was cool and rainy. A
nice change. I was so chilly in the evening that I had to put on
a sweatshirt. My parents were glad to see some rain. I think
they only received about a ½
inch but were thrilled nonetheless. They own seven acres of land
and their house is out in the wide
open. The wind seems to be blowing to some extent every day so
with the extreme heat they have experienced it has made keeping
up with the watering pretty difficult. Sounds like a story we
are all to familiar with.
It was fun
watching our youngest son Jake go out to the garden with grandpa
to pick some tomatoes and cucumbers
Dad had plenty to send home and I always kid him about starting
his own little vegetable stand. He also grows watermelon and
cantaloupe that are delicious. I often wish I had enough space
to grow vegetables. I wonder if I
would have the patience. Growing vegetables and planting flowers
are very different to me. For now I will continue to plant
flowers because there is nothing more satisfying than walking
outside and looking at their beauty.
Heirloom Tomatoes have been increasing in
popularity recently. Saving seeds from these oldies-but-goodies
is a great idea but maybe not as simple
as you think. First of all you need to take some
precautions to prevent cross-pollination from other tomato
varieties nearby or the seeds may not produce the tomato you
wanted. If you grow more than one variety of tomato, they should
be planted at least 20-25 feet apart. In addition, a tall barrier
crop (corn, pole beans, fruit trees, etc), or a continuous
pollen-producing crop (squash) should be planted between
varieties to distract the bees. These precautions will prevent
most wind caused cross-pollination, and cause bees to visit only
one tomato variety at a time before returning to the hive to
clean off their collected pollen.
from healthy plants with the best fruit quality. Pick the fruit
when ripe, scoop out seeds and pulp into a bowl with a little
water then leave to ferment for 4 days (no longer or some
heirlooms will begin to sprout). Separate out seed from pulp,
rinse the seeds, then dry them on paper towels or a screen in a
warm, dry place with good air circulation (try outdoors on warm
summer or fall days). After 5-7 days, place seeds in airtight
containers (plastic film canisters are good) and store indoors in
a dark, cool, dry place. If properly stored,
your seeds should remain viable for 3-5 years.
Mums are a gardener's best friend in the fall. As the latest
blooming flowers they provide color and beauty to a garden that
has otherwise been worn out for the season.
choosing mums from your local retailer buy healthy looking plants
that have been taken care of - no broken stems, wilted leaves,
etc... Plants with existing blooms will be limited in their
ability to provide much more flowering. Those with buds about to
bloom will provide you with flowers into the fall. We usually
buy several plants in bloom for immediate gratification and quite
a few more that we expect to bloom over the coming weeks. What a
great exclamation point at the end of the season!
If you're harvesting potatoes remember that they will
continue to grow as long as the tops are green. So dig only as
many as you need for immediate use. The ones left in the ground
will actually keep better there than in your home.
Oak Wilt Worries...
This time of year always seems to bring
lots of questions regarding "oak wilt".
This troubling tree disease can really
devastate our beautiful oak trees, but
thankfully it's actually quite rare.
In case you've got an oak and are worried about oak wilt we've
unearthed an excellent resource published by the USDA Forest
Service. How to Identify, Prevent, and Control Oak Wilt
can be found here...
Making The Cut...
When your plants fall victim to disease one of the first
courses of action is the removal of the diseased portions.
Careful! The same pruners that you use to cut away diseased
foliage can then transfer the disease to otherwise healthy
plants. It is generally recommended that a one in ten solution
of bleach and water be used to disinfect pruners. Rather than
keep a bucket of solution nearby try mixing the solution in a
small spray bottle. Carry it with you and spray your pruners
after each cut.
Keep your basil, parsley, mint, and sage,
producing by pinching out the seed pods. Herbs can be used
fresh, frozen, or dried. Wait until the dew has dried to cut a
few stems, tie a string around this little bouquet, and hang in
a cool, dry place until completely dry. Crumble and place in a
jar for use during the winter.
If all or parts of your cool season grass have gone dormant
this summer you should prepare for a fall comeback now by
starting a deep watering program. Make sure your lawn gets a
morning soak twice a week and you will be rewarded with stronger,
more lush growth later this fall.
couturiers possess many of the same talents: imagination,
knowledge, and industry. Both know which colors shock or
coordinate, which textures rasp or soothe, and both see fashions
change - but they never forget that the concept of beauty is