This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
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This Week's Photos, Inc.











August 1, 2007


#%#@*&! Squirrels...
I guess I'll start off this week's newsletter with the almost funny news about our vegetable garden. Some critter, I am guessing the always menacing squirrel or chipmunk, has chewed right through one of our tomato plants. Kevin went out to check on the plants (they have just started setting on fruit) and sure enough there was one laying on the ground. I always get really mad when they pick the fruit, take one bite and then drop the fruit on the ground. But not this time. They have decided to chew right through the entire plant. UGH! We knew it would be frustrating but I guess we had hopes that maybe we would persevere. One plant down, four remaining. The good news, the watermelon and cantaloupe are growing like crazy. No fruit yet but the vines look great!

It is going to be very hot and humid this week so keep an eye on all pots and newly planted shrubs and trees. Remember slow, deep watering is best. Be sure to garden early in the morning or late in the evening. The heat index could be creeping into the high 90's and that is way too hot to be out weeding or doing anything else that might cause heat exhaustion. Always use caution on these "oh so hot days".

~ Shelly  

Milorganite To Deter Rabbits?
On of the most common problems facing area gardeners is the destruction of plantings by rabbits. Our neighborhood is overrun with them.  Recently a good friend told us she used the fertilizer Milorganite on her plants and ever since the rabbits have left them alone. Milorganite is a byproduct of the sewage treatment process in the City of Milwaukee.  In fact, that's where Milorganite gets its name (MIL-waukee-ORGAnic-NITrogEn).  It is not however labeled or approved as an animal deterrent and cannot be sold as such.  Anyway, we've found lots of postings on the web where gardeners have had success deterring rabbits, deer, and other critters with this product.

Growin' Garlic...
Garlic is a cook's best friend.  Home-grown garlic is an extra special treat.  Making sure your garlic is harvested correctly is simple but important:

Garlic should be harvested when the foliage begins to dry.  Using a garden fork or shovel, carefully dig the bulbs with the foliage still attached.  Dry the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray in a warm, well-ventilated location for 3 to 4 weeks.  When properly cured, cut off the dry foliage ˝ to 1 inch above the bulbs, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil.  Place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool (32 to 40°F), dry (60 to 70% relative humidity) location.  Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for 6 to 7 months.


Time To Divide Iris...
There's some very rewarding summer work to be done right now. It's time to divide your irises. After 3 to 5 years of growth irises will become crowded and should be divided so they don't starve each other for soil nutrients. Here's a few simple steps to get the job done:

  1. Cut the leaves back to one-third their length.
  2. Dig the rhizome clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
  3. Cut the rhizomes apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of leaves and firm, white roots.
  4. Discard soft rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of the clump.
  5. Plant the divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny location.
  6. Water immediately and again in ten days if rain is scarce.

Following these steps now allows adequate time for the divisions to get established before winter and also reduces the chance of frost heaving in late winter.

Pesticide Problem Prevention...
During summer it is especially important to take care when applying pesticides.  If rain has been scarce, make sure you take the time to water your plants several hours before applying pesticides.  You see, drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues and the chemicals that enter the leaves will consequently be more concentrated.  This in turn can lead to an unwanted burn-like condition on the leaves.

A Perfect Pear...
Unlike some crops, pears are usually best when ripened off the tree.  You don't want to wait for the fruit to turn yellowish before picking.  Instead, harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from dark green to lighter green and when it is easily twisted and removed from the spur.

Support Your Fruit...
When fruit on fruit trees starts getting bigger the stress on tree limbs can be substantial.  So much so that your trees may need some extra support to prevent limbs from breaking.  Here are some support suggestions from K-State Extension:

  • Wooden Props - Use one-inch thick boards to prop up limbs. Cut a ‘V’ on the top edge of the board on which the limb will rest so that it doesn’t slip off. Long, heavy limbs may need a prop in the center and another near the outer part of the limb.
  • Belt Webbing - A 2-inch, plastic, belt-like material can be tied to a heavily loaded limb, then to a large diameter limb above for support. Where a large limb is used for support, it is good to have it supporting limbs on opposite sides so the weight is balanced.
  • Taping - Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they breakHeavy twine may be used, but it should be removed when the fruit is picked or soon after so it does not cut into the bark on the limb.


Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty...
Have you discovered an orange dust clinging to your shoes after walking through the lawn? You're not alone.    Rust diseases attack all turfgrasses, but are most often found on susceptible Bluegrass, tall fescue ryegrass and Zoysia in late August and early September. Unlike some other turf fungi, this particular fungus (Puccinia), can do serious damage resulting in thinning and winterkill.  The best protection is healthy turf management, including proper levels of fertilizer, watering, and mowing at the recommended height (normally 3 inches at this time of the year). Avoid night watering.

An application of fungicide may be helpful before the turfgrass enters winter dormancy. The most commonly suggested fungicides for rust control are products such as chlorothalonil (Daconil) and triadimefon ( Bayleton). As always, apply following label directions.

"Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
Tomorrow be today."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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