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July 18, 2007


Hot Stuff...
Boy is it hot! I can't stand being outside unless it is early morning or late evening. I passed one of my neighbors yesterday and I exclaimed, "Could it be any hotter?" and he kindly reminded me that it was summer. Yep, summer in Kansas. Hot, humid, dry and windy. Conditions not so desirable. I am constantly watering pots, impatiens and all of the other new plantings. Things look good but it is a full time job staying on top of everything. It is hard to believe that after all the rain we had in June that now I am wishing for a rainy day. There is a small front headed our way hopefully bringing a shower and cooler temperatures. Wouldn't that be nice?

Our vegetable garden is doing well. We will probably see the fruits of our labor sometime in September :) I guess that's what you get when you put tomatoes in the ground in June. We are still hopeful though and will celebrate once we have our first harvest. I can taste that sun ripened tomato now. Yum!

Stay cool and keep watering!

~ Shelly  

Beat The Heat...
We're supposed to get a break from this really hot weather in a day or two. Still it's good to remember that exposure to too much hot weather can be dangerous.  Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:

  • Tasks that occur outdoors in sunny areas should be done in early morning or late afternoon whenever possible, not during the midday heat. Most watering, pruning, dead heading, etc., is better for plants when done in early morning. Many chemicals, especially insecticides, are better applied late in the day when the wind is down and beneficial insects are not present.
  • Allow yourself to acclimate to the heat slowly. Over a period of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time spent in hot, still areas or in direct sun.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, drinking as many liquids as possible. Don't wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, as thirst is an indicator that your body is already dehydrated. Water is preferred, except when heat cramps occur (then drink a lightly salted beverage like a sports drink). The water's temperature should be cool, not cold.
  • Though tempting, do not work in the yard in a tank top or without a shirt due to the potential for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes. Keep the fabric content high in cotton to aid sweat evaporation. Neckbands, headbands, wristbands, visors, and hats can increase evaporation to keep the body cool.
  • Lastly, take frequent breaks to reduce the amount of time spent in the sun or heat. After working for an hour, take a break to cool down and have a drink in the shade to reduce the build up of heat stress on your body.


Drinks For The Droopy?
It's not uncommon to venture out to the garden at the end of a hot day to find some pretty droopy plants.  Don't immediately assume that they need to be watered.  It may be that there is adequate moisture in the soil but your plant's roots just can't keep up with the needs of the leaves.  If the soil is already moist you are better off letting the plants catch up on their own overnight.  If they're still droopy in the morning give them a drink.

Houseplants, Douse Plants...
This is a great time of year to take your houseplants outside for a bath. Insect and mite populations can sometimes creep up on you this time of year, but not to worry. Take houseplants outside and gently hose them off. This will not only wash away harmful pests, but will remove dust from the leaf surfaces and leave plant pores cleaner and able to breathe easier.


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Get More Blooms...
Deadheading roses and annuals such as petunias, marigolds, and zinnias will promote reblooming throughout the season. You can fool biannuals, like hollyhocks and foxglove, into thinking they are perennials by cutting off the old blossoms before seed pods form.

To deadhead a rose, cut the flower stem back to an outward facing bud just above a 5- leaflet or 7- leaflet leaf.  For most other flowers simply cut the stem just below the spent bloom.

Sweet & Corny...
Corn lovers know that standard sweet corn is at its peak for only a day or so (supersweet corn maintains its peak quality for a little longer).  Timing is everything.  For the sweetest corn harvest when silks begin to dry, and kernels exude a milky (rather than watery or doughy) juice when punctured.

Orange Means Hot...
This heat is going to affect tomato harvests.  Tomatoes ripen best when temperatures stay below eighty-five degrees.  When the temperatures hover in the mid-nineties several problems can occur.  The ripening process slows down and color compounds do not form properly.  Instead of a bright red tomato you may wind up with an orange-red one.  Try picking the tomatoes at the first flush of color and ripening them indoors.


Ozone, Mow Zone...
Small gasoline engines like those found on lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers lack pollution controls. According to the Mid-America Regional Council the average lawnmower produces as much pollution in one hour as forty late-model cars!  Do yourself, and your fellow gardeners, a favor by not mowing on ozone alert days.  If you have to mow, try to do it after 7 PM.


"Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and gillyflowers."

~ Sara Coleridge

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