This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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This Week's Photos













June 27, 2007


Still Planting...
It is sprinkling outside and the humidity must be at 100%. Stifling! Any movement at all results in puddles of sweat. I do hope we receive a good soaking shower today. We sure could use one. I am needing Mother Nature's assistance in helping out with all of our new plants. I have been busy watering and it would be nice to have a bit of a reprieve. How wonderful it was last night when a small cold front moved through and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. What a difference it made. We didn't get much rain from the storm but I am crossing my fingers for some today and into tomorrow. Now that summer is in full swing it would be great to have a nice rainy day here and there. Remember most plants need an inch of rain a week so keep a close eye on your gardens. This heat and humidity will start to take its toll before you know it. It is better to be proactive instead of reactive.

Kevin came up with this brilliant idea for a vegetable garden. We had some old iron fence on the property and he designed and put together quite a nice place to grow some vegetables. Take a look at this week's photos. We are both thrilled with the way it turned out. We have planted tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. We will let you know if we get lucky enough to harvest anything.

I stopped by Family Tree Nursery in Overland Park the other day and I must have wandered around for a couple of hours. I ran into a girlfriend and we chatted about how great everything looked. One thing, amongst many that Family Tree does right is keeping their nursery well stocked. I walked in and was delighted by the beautiful plants everywhere. The selection was great and it was fun to see many plants in full bloom. It gives you an idea of how the plant will look and whether or not it will do well in sun or shade. Here it is almost the end of June and making a stop there makes me want to continue planting. It is incredibly hard to resist, so I didn't. I came home with some annuals and was glad that I had wandered around. So if you are still looking for that special something stop in and wander around. You may just leave with something you had to have.

~ Shelly  

Hey Bud, Get Outta' Here...
One of the most common pests of petunias is the budworm caterpillar. These small green worms appear in late June and July and feed on the flower buds, making small holes in the buds and the leaves. You won't often see the worm itself. Instead, you'll see the droppings, which resemble small, black seeds.  Because of their size, removing them by hand may not be practical.  If you are so inclined, Dipel, Thuricide, Talstar and Scimitar are reasonably effective insecticides. Sevin and Diazinon aren't effective, because budworms have become resistant to them. If left unchecked, the presence of the caterpillars will cause your petunias to stop blooming.


Plan for Halloween By Planting Pumpkins Now...
Want to grow a perfect pumpkin for your very own jack-o-lantern this year?  It may sound like a long way off but depending on the variety you want to grow you need to get your pumpkins planted now for carving on Halloween.  Typically pumpkins mature in 90 - 120 days.  Check your seed pack to determine your pumpkin's specific days to maturity and work backwards from October 31st.

Remember that these things get big.  Allow 8 to 10 feet between rows and place seeds every 2 feet in the row.  When fruit begins to appear it's time to start protecting the pumpkin from rot.  Try placing a barrier under ripening pumpkins to lift them off the soil.  A material that doesn't trap water is best.

Seen Any Spittlebugs?
The spittlebug derives its name from the white, frothy" spittle" the nymphs produce. Adults are large, black leafhoppers about 1/3-inch long with two red stripes that go crosswise across the back. The eyes and abdomen are bright red. Though the nymphs resemble the adults, they are smaller and wingless. Color varies from yellow to white to orange, but the eyes are always red.

Spittlebug nymphs suck plant juices like aphids, but they remove so much water and carbohydrates that excess fluid is produced. They cover themselves with this fluid and then produce the spittle by bubbling air from the tip of the abdomen into the liquid. The spittle mass helps protect the nymphs from drying and from predators.

Spittlebugs normally do not achieve high enough populations to cause damage. If they do, forcefully hosing the plants several times should achieve the level of control needed.


Dealing With Deer...
Gardeners that live near open parks and other "nearly wild" areas are often plagued by deer. Deer damage to plants is both costly and frustrating. While tall fences remain the most effective way to keep deer away they are not always practical.  Some gardeners have had success with plantings that don't attract deer (or even repel them). The Missouri Department of Conservation produced a list of these plants and it can be seen here...

Trees Shedding Bark...
Trees naturally shed bark as they grow. The amount of bark shed varies significantly from one year to the next and is usually not noticeable. But some trees, such as sycamore, London Planetree and silver maple, shed bark in large patches or strips. During a year with heavy shedding homeowners may become concerned that the tree is sick or dying. Such usually is not the case. Sycamore and London Planetree normally show a bright green color on the branches when the bark first falls off but soon return to normal. Maple reveals an orange color after shedding but it, too, soon returns to normal. There is nothing wrong with the tree as long as the shedding bark simply reveals underlying bark rather than bare wood.


Timely Tomato Tips...
Tomatoes are growing vigorously now.  However, the end of spring and the onset of hot, dry weather can lead to several problems in tomatoes.  Tomatoes that experience early vigorous growth often drop some blossoms during the transition to summer weather.   Don't worry.  New blooms should develop rapidly to replace the fallen ones.  

Also, tomato plants may be subject to leaf curl where the leaves roll up from the edges.  This is a short-term condition that develops as the tomato is trying to reduce it's leaf surface to allow the roots to develop.


Beware Brown Patch...
Brown patch is showing up all over the area. This turf disease is favored by warm night temperatures and extended periods of leaf wetness. If you go outside in the morning and the lawn is covered with dew and the temperature is in the high 60s and above, it means that conditions are right for brown patch. During severe outbreaks, the fungus may invade the lower leaf sheaths and crown and kill plants. But in most cases the turfgrass can recover from brown patch. This recovery may take two to three weeks depending on weather.

Unfortunately there is no way to eliminate brown patch from a lawn as it will persist indefinitely in the soil. In almost all cases, the limiting factor for brown patch development is the weather. Although you can’t eliminate the fungus, cultural practices – especially irrigation – can help control it.

  • Don't water in the evening; instead, water early in the morning. This will help decrease the number of hours the leaf tissue remains wet and susceptible to infection. The frequency of irrigation is not as important as the time of day you do it.
  • Don't overfertilize, and certainly don't fertilize when brown patch is active.
  • Make sure your seeding or overseeding rates are not too high.


"Of the seven deadly sins, surely it is pride that most commonly afflicts the gardener."

~ Michael Pollan

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