August 1, 2007
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".
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
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.
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:
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:
- Cut the leaves
back to one-third their length.
- Dig the rhizome
clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
- Cut the rhizomes
apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of
leaves and firm, white roots.
- Discard soft
rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of
- Plant the
divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny
- Water immediately
and again in ten days if rain is scarce.
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.
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.
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
- 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
Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around
the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they
break. Heavy 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?
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