This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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August 8, 2007

 

It's Not The Heat... Actually, It Is The Heat.
It is hot and will stay hot for at least another week... the end. It would be easy to end my message on that note because that is it. Weeding, watering, blah, blah, blah. Tectonic recently laid a Pennsylvania Bluestone path which looks great  (photos). This is the perfect time of year to have some hardscape done if needed. Walk through your gardens and around your house to see if there is a need for a stone path or wall. Hardscape plays an important role in the garden and since August is too hot to plant, it is a good time to get some of those projects taken care of.

Still trying to protect our tomatoes. We now have a total of six pieces of fruit on varied plants. Patience is the key here. Of course since it has been so hot there is not a lot of fruit setting on so six tomatoes might be the extent of our crop this year. Maybe we will have one tomato for each member of the family. Noah, who is 11 doesn't like tomatoes so the luckier ones (maybe me) might get a couple. Stumbled onto some heirloom tomatoes last week and I must say they were delicious! There is nothing better tasting than a sun-ripened tomato. Yummy!

Hang in there. If you are anything like me you are tired of looking at oh-so-tired annuals. Pretty is not the first word that comes to mind. All I can think of is cooler temperatures and fall, jeans and a sweatshirt. Patience is key :-)

~ Shelly  

Lush Lawns Are Looming...
Fall is just around the corner and there's no better time of year to renovate your lawn.  Take a hard look at your grass and decide just how much work you have ahead of you.

  • If you just need to thicken it up, a round of over-seeding will probably do the trick.  To ensure good seed to soil contact you might want to make use of a verticutter.  This handy machine, which can be rented locally, makes nice vertical cuts in your existing lawn and soil.  Over this cutting you can broadcast your seeds.  Seeds should find their way into the soil where they will germinate nicely.
  • Every other year or so you should try core aerating your lawn.  Doing so will control and prevent problems such as thatch and soil compaction.  Core aerating machines will pull up numerous plugs of soil about the diameter of a pencil, making holes into the lawn.  Leave the plugs on the surface and work the lawn as usual.
  • If your lawn is so overridden with perennial weeds or you're ready to try a new type of grass altogether you will need to eliminate what's there with Round Up or other appropriate herbicide.  Once the grass and weeds are dead use a verticutter or roto-tiller to prepare the soil for new seed.

A note about weeds - If crabgrass is appearing in your lawn in mid to late summer, remember that it's an annual and will die-off as temperatures drop later this fall.  For perennial weeds it is best to delay herbicide applications until a newly planted lawn has been mowed at least 3 times.  This gives the new grass time to mature to a point where it is not so sensitive to the weed killer.

Helpful Harvest Hints...
Vegetable harvest can be confusing - especially if you're still new at it.  Here are some quick tips to help with a few local favorites:

  • Harvest onions after the tops yellow and fall, then cure them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area.  The necks should be free of moisture when fully cured in about a week's time.
  • Harvest potatoes after the tops yellow and die.  Potatoes also need to be cured before storage.
  • Pick beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage further production.
  • Harvest sweet corn when kernels are plump and ooze a milky juice when punctured with your fingernail. If the liquid is watery, you're too early; if the kernels are doughy, you're too late.

Source

Waste Not, Want Not...
Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to preventing drips in our faucets and other indoor plumbing.  For some reason however we are ready to ignore dribbles and trickles in our garden hoses and spigots.  Unless those leaks are falling right where moisture is needed (not likely) it is simply a waste of water.  Depending on the rate of the leak it is entirely possible to waste hundreds of gallons of water every day.  In most cases it's a matter of simply tightening hose connections and fittings.  Applying Teflon tape to threaded connectors will stop more stubborn leaks.  It may also be time to replace that old leaky hose altogether.

One More Water Saver...
Speaking of stopping wasted water...  When was the last time you looked at your automatic sprinkler system in action?  If you haven't seen it in a while (or ever) you might be surprised where you are watering (and where you're not). Pop-up sprinkler heads can get out out of alignment over time and as a result will wind up watering sidewalks, driveways, adjacent roads, or other areas that don't need watering. So, take a few minutes to manually activate your watering system and see if any of those sprinkler heads need some adjustments.

Getting Ready For Winter...
While it may be August it's actually time for your trees and shrubs to start preparing for winter.  They've got some tough conditions to prepare for and it begins now.  The best thing you can do to help is lay off the fertilizer.  Fertilizing now will only stimulate late growth that won't have time to harden-off properly before winter.  Keep watering however.  You still want to keep them alive after all!  

Thump 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.

Finally...
"All of those faces! Most of them smiling, some of them scowling....
some like little children, lit with a radiant innocence, others like small floral villains,
their petals freaked with dark and dangerous hues. No two faces are the same, and as you stare and stare at this multicoloured host,
you find yourself making up stories about them,
you send them marching on great adventures, and even if the thunder growls,
it seems to come from over the hills and far away."

~ Beverly Nichols

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