July 4, 2007
So Far, So Good...
It is a good time to live in Kansas City. Kevin's parents are
experiencing a drought in Maryland and my sister in Phoenix says
it is blazing hot. She says that temperatures have been well
over 100 for several days. That is not terribly uncommon for
the Phoenix area but sizzling hot
nonetheless. Here we are smack dab in the middle of the country
and so far we are having a pretty decent summer. The rains last
week were great. Slow, soaking. I know
that several areas in Kansas experienced flooding and I am glad
to say we escaped having to deal with too much rain.
For now summer is
just the way I like it. I am sure that we will get some heat and
humidity soon (like this week) and it will feel like the summers
of past. Until then I am going to be content with the way things
are going and try not to think about what
Have a safe and
Timing Is Everything...
us are morning people, others need more time to get going every
day. The same is true for garden vegetables! The time of day
you pick your vegetables can actually have a dramatic effect on
their taste and texture. For instance, your lettuce and
cucumbers will be crispier if picked early - before the hot sun
has had a chance to wilt your crop. On the other hand corn and
peas will be sweeter if you wait until later in the day when
their sugar levels are highest. Yum!
Tomatoes On Potatoes?...
favorable weather conditions, potatoes produce fruit. These
structures are borne on the top of the plant and look much like
small tomatoes. (Tomatoes and potatoes are closely related).
Potato fruits are not edible. They contain a toxic substance (solanine)
that can cause illness if eaten. Also, potato fruits should not
be saved for seed because progeny does not come true. Rather,
remove and dispose of fruit so that they are not eaten by
Shake It Up...
Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they need movement to
transfer pollen. If it is hot and calm for several days you may
need to gently shake your plants to assure that pollen is
properly transferred. Very hot temperatures can also interfere
with blossom set. One solution is to mist the plants
periodically throughout the day. Careful here! Wet leaves can
promote other diseases. If you choose to mist do it during the
day when plants will have adequate time to dry out before
Nurturing Nature's Night
things just mean summer to me. Fireflies (lightning bugs to some
of you) fit that category nicely. My kids could spend hours
catching these magical creatures and putting them in a jar or
cage. Before calling it a night however, I make sure they let
the fireflies escape. Anglers call it catch and release. We call it good gardening. You
see, the larvae of fireflies dine on cutworms, mites, slugs,
snails, soft-bodied insects and the larvae of other insects.
They apparently have voracious appetites and quietly do wonders
keeping pests at bay.
The exact time to harvest blackberries varies by cultivar,
and thorny blackberries normally ripen earlier than thornless
types. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when
- Do not
pick blackberries too early or berry size and flavor will be
Blackberries usually develop a dull, black color with plump,
juicy fruitlets as they ripen. The berries soften and produce
the characteristic flavor.
color often develops before the berries separate easily.
berries by gently lifting the berry with the thumb and fingers.
The receptacle, or center part of the fruit, remains in the fruit
when blackberries are harvested, unlike raspberries, which leave
the receptacle on the bush. Take care not to crush the berries or
expose them to the hot sun. When possible, avoid picking berries
when they are wet. They'll probably need picking every second or
third day. Cool the berries immediately after harvest to extend
shelf life. Keep them refrigerated under high relative humidity
and use within three to five days.
Too Hot To Handle...
the weather gets really oppressive it's
all too easy to want to stay inside and neglect the garden. Try
to do your watering early in the morning, take the afternoon off,
and do your weeding, dead-heading, etc... in the evening.
Remember, in this heat watering must be thorough and deep. If
you can't water adequately during hot, dry weather you are
actually better off doing nothing at all and I mean nothing.
Plants under severe summer stress compensate by becoming
inactive. Pruning, fertilizing, spraying or otherwise
encouraging growth can do more harm than good if water is
You will recognize brown patch in your lawn by
thinning of the turf in clustered, roughly circular patches. The
patches will expand as the problem gets worse.
This is a
disease that remains in the soil, so you're not going to get rid
of it completely. All you can do is prevent it through smart
horticultural practices and treat it when necessary with
appropriately labeled fungicides. Smart practices include:
- Avoiding heavy,
early spring and summer fertilization, particularly with
- Watering in the
early morning. Late afternoon and evening watering should be
- Remove and
dispose of clippings from infected areas or when conditions are
conducive to disease development. (Mulching mowers that chop
inch or less do not contribute to brown patch development.)
""No occupation is
so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture
comparable to that of the garden."