July 25, 2007
Hill O' Weeds...
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be away. After spending two weeks
away on vacation I am afraid to say that I have quite a mess of
weeds on my hands. Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity
to level all of the topsoil we had brought in and instead left
it in a heap in the back yard. Now there is a good sized area
with nothing but weeds growing in and around it
(photo). It is quite an eyesore. Of course it
all depends on who you ask. My sons, when asked to help weed,
told me that they thought the weeds were
some new flower I had planted. They were disappointed when I
told them that all of those tall green plants were nothing but
weeds and I would need their assistance in pulling them. You
should have seen the look on their faces. They were kind enough
to help me and we made quite a dent in removing the "hill o'
weeds". We also worked together to tidy up the patio, mow the
lawn and water the plants. Truth be
known I think they enjoy helping and feel the same sense of
accomplishment that I feel once we've finished. I love raising a
new generation of gardeners!
I am in that
horrible place in my gardening life. It is too hot to be outside
planting so I am just maintaining everything. Watering due to
the lack of rain, pulling weeds and mowing when needed. This
time of the year is always hard for me. I am starting to dislike
the way my annuals are looking and I am becoming anxious for a
new season which means change in the garden. I am ready for
cooler temperatures, pansies, mums, sedum and other fall
blooming plants. I am always rushing from one season to the next
- ready to move on. Am I alone?
We returned from vacation to find our
mulched beds full of mushrooms and a
particularly disgusting slime mold
(photos). Where did these things come from?
Mushrooms, often called "toadstools," are specialized types of
fungi, and can be admired for their beauty and the fantastic
variety of form, color, and texture. They grow in a variety of
habitats, and generally are important as decay microorganisms,
aiding in the breakdown of logs, leaves, fallen branches, and
other organic debris. This important role of mushrooms results
in recycling of essential nutrients. In the majority of cases
these fungi are not parasitic to lawns or
gardens and won't cause any disease problems. Please
resist the temptation to eat them. Many varieties of mushroom
are highly poisonous and should be consumed only when absolutely
certain of their safety.
Lots Of Leaf Drop...
In addition to the mushrooms mentioned
above, we returned from vacation to also find a good deal of
fallen leaves around the yard and garden. In most cases this is
nothing to panic about. Trees will often set more leaves
in the spring than they can support during the summer. Heat and
drought stress will cause trees to lose leaves that they cannot
support with available soil moisture. This year's leaf drop is
likely worse than usual because excess rains in certain areas
weakened the trees’ root systems. Now that we are drying out and
warming up, that weakened root system can no longer keep up with
the moisture demands of the foliage and tree drops leaves to
compensate. In fact, excess soil moisture itself can cause leaf
drop because waterlogged root systems can’t take up water and
transport it due to a lack of oxygen.
A bitter taste in cucumbers is the result of stress that can
be caused by a number of factors, including heredity, moisture,
temperature, soil characteristics and disease. Most often this
occurs during the hot part of the summer or later in the growing
compounds, cucurbitacins B and C, give rise to the bitter taste.
Though often only the stem end is affected, at times the entire
fruit is bitter. Also, most of the bitter taste is found in and
just under the skin. Bitter fruit is not the result of cucumbers
cross-pollinating with squash or melons. These plants cannot
cross-pollinate with one another.
varieties are less likely to become bitter than older ones.
Proper cultural care is also often helpful. Make sure your plants
have the following:
- Well-drained soil
with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.
- Plenty of organic
matter also helps.
- Mulch helps
conserve moisture and keep roots cool during hot, dry weather.
- Adequate water
especially during the fruiting season.
- Disease and
If your basil and thyme look like they
need an extreme makeover you can revitalize them by cutting them
back severely. This will stimulate a clean new flush of growth,
free of any insect and disease damage incurred since spring.
Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers probably have some pretty big fruit by
now. You don't want to harvest your melons too early! Just
check for these tell-tale indicators of ripeness:
- The underside
ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow.
- The tendril
closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels.
- The rind loses
its gloss and appears dull.
- The melon
produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
The Cutting Gardener...
When gardens are blooming the way they
have been lately it's a shame not to spread the beauty around.
How? By bringing some of it inside! Before you
try it yourself there are some procedures to
follow if you really want to do it right:
- Start when flower
stems are full of water - either early morning (6 to 8 AM) or
late evening (7 to 9 PM).
- Carry a clean
bucket filled with very warm (100 to 120º F) water.
- Always use sharp,
very clean scissors or pruners when cutting.
- Immediately place
any cut flowers in the bucket of warm water.
- When you bring
the flowers in, re-cut each flower under water. This pulls
water into the stems more quickly. Flowers that are not re-cut
immediately after picking can lose up to 60% of their
- Place the bucket
of re-cut flowers in a cool area, such as the basement and
allow them to hydrate or harden for at least one hour (although
overnight is best).
- Arrange, display,
Bulbs That Bloom In Autumn...
The savviest of Savvygardeners know that there are a number
of autumn-blooming bulbs that really perk up the fall garden and
landscape. Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) also known as
meadow saffron, mysteria, or naked boys produces pink to lavender
crocus-like flowers in the fall and there is no foliage present
when the plants are in bloom. Dark green leaves will emerge in
the spring, remain until summer, then turn yellow and die to the
ground. After which, the flowers magically appear in the fall
should be planted immediately after purchase or delivery in
August or September or they will start to bloom in their
packaging. Plant the corms in clumps, 2-3 inches deep in
well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Pretty!
Too Tall Turf?
If you've been away on vacation and your
lawn is extra tall be careful about cutting too much at once. As
a rule you should cut no more than one-third of the grass height
at a time. If necessary, try setting your mower height to the
highest setting for a first cutting. Then wait two-three days
and cut again at a reduced height.
"Many things grow in
the garden that were never sowed there."