This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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~ All About Composting
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~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
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~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
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~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
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~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
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~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
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~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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This Week's Photos, Inc.











July 11, 2007


New Paths...
After 17 years, Kevin's parents are moving from their beautiful home in Buckeystown, Maryland to Frederick, Maryland. They purchased their new house last fall and are in the process of renovating it to make it theirs. Mary will be leaving her gardens of 17 years. As you will notice while looking at Kevin's photos this week, she is an accomplished gardener with quite an array of plantings.

After caring for so many gardens Mary and Larry are excited about the opportunity to spend less time in the yard and more time with their children, grandchildren and travel. We are thrilled about them being able to do the things they really want to do. Of course at their new house the gardens will be more tailored to their lifestyle. What a great idea! Tailor your garden to your lifestyle. If you are around and want to be in the garden then what you grow will be different from someone who doesn't want to spend anytime in their garden at all. Not always an easy decision to make.

I think as gardeners we all (at some point in our lives) will have to choose the path of least resistance and strive to maintain a garden that allows us to still feel full. Kevin and I both wish them well as they travel together down their new garden path.

~ Shelly  

Invigorating Irises...
To promote growth, vigor and optimum flowering, iris clumps may be raised and divided every three years or so.  Dig up the rhizomes carefully to avoid damage to rhizomes and their roots.  Examine them for the presence of worm-like insects called iris borers, which may seriously damage or destroy the plant.  If they are found, remove them, cut out the affected tissue and dust with a garden insecticide, such as Sevin, before replanting.  Select sound rhizomes with two or more growing points.  Rhizomes may be cut apart with a sharp knife, or snapped apart by hand.  Be sure to preserve as many rhizome roots as possible.  The best time to divide iris is in mid-summer while the plants are dormant.  Late July through mid August is preferred.


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.


When Is A Tomato Ripe?
Early July starts tomato ripening time in Kansas City. We’ve all heard of ‘vine ripe’ flavor but does a tomato have to remain on the vine until it is completely ripe? The answer is no. When a tomato reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins the ripening process which is regulated by an internal gas produced within the fruit called ethylene. After the tomato reaches a stage when it about ˝ green and ˝ pink (called the ‘breaker stage’), a layer of cells forms across the stem of the tomato- sealing it from the main vine. At this point there is nothing moving from the plant into the fruit. At this stage the tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of flavor, quality or nutrition.

Red pigments in tomatoes don’t form above 95° F so tomatoes ripened in extreme heat will have a orange-red color. Tomatoes held at cooler temperatures will ripen slower. You can speed up or slow down the ripening process by raising the temperature (to an optimum of 85° F) or lowering the temperature (to a minimum of 50° F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor, nutrition, and color when the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this doesn’t have to occur on the plant!



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When To Pick A Pepper...
Depending on what variety of bell pepper you are growing and what color you want it to be you have different guidelines to follow for the timing of your harvest.  Green bell varieties are usually picked when they are fully grown and mature - 3 to 4 inches long, firm and green.  Colored bell peppers start out green but should be left on the plant until they develop full flavor and ripen fully to red, yellow, orange or brown.

Fall Crops Begin Now...
A fall harvest of cabbage, vine crops, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts means setting transplants in late July.  For lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale, and spinach, you should sow seeds in late July to early August.

Brussels sprouts are especially good fall crops as their flavor is enhanced by a mild frost.  They are hungry little guys so make monthly applications of 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of ˝ cup per square yard from the time the plants are 4 inches tall through harvest.

Shady Characters...
Looking for a good, low exertion chore for the hot weather?  Try inspecting your shade trees and the grass below them.  They may be getting so full of branches that not enough sunlight filters through to your grass.  If your grass is just not making it under a particular tree you can stand in its shade and make some notes for future pruning.  You'd be surprised how well grass will respond to even a moderate amount of increased sunlight.

"Some people like to make a little garden out of life and walk down a path."

~ Jean Anouilh

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