August 22, 2007
Back Outside Again...
I am actually going to work in the yard
and garden today. There is a bit of cloud cover and a
slight breeze which will help keep the temperature down. I need
to mow, weed and a whole lot of other
things that I have been putting off. It has just been too darn
hot - even late in the evenings which
is when I am typically out and about. I find myself outside and
then inside again within minutes
drenched with perspiration. My motivation level is low, the
mosquitoes are horrible and I am just not in the mood. I cannot
procrastinate any longer. I have to get outside and get some
things done so that our neighbors will not be offended by living
How about that
surprise rain shower on Sunday? I was thrilled because it has
been so dry. We have lost a couple of arborvitae and there are a
couple of more that do not look so well
(photo). I am trying to nurse them along but I
am afraid that they are past the nursing stage. Yes, even the
Savvygardener has difficulties of her own. Failure in the garden
is always a good lesson. The ten-day
forecast looks promising. Trying not to get my hopes up for
cooler weather or rain. Barely hanging on by a piece of twine.
Heirloom Tomatoes have been increasing in
popularity recently. Saving seeds from these oldies-but-goodies
is a great idea but maybe not as simple
as you think. First of all you need to take some
precautions to prevent cross-pollination from other tomato
varieties nearby or the seeds may not produce the tomato you
wanted. If you grow more than one variety of tomato, they should
be planted at least 20-25 feet apart. In addition, a tall barrier
crop (corn, pole beans, fruit trees, etc), or a continuous
pollen-producing crop (squash) should be planted between
varieties to distract the bees. These precautions will prevent
most wind caused cross-pollination, and cause bees to visit only
one tomato variety at a time before returning to the hive to
clean off their collected pollen.
from healthy plants with the best fruit quality. Pick the fruit
when ripe, scoop out seeds and pulp into a bowl with a little
water then leave to ferment for 4 days (no longer or some
heirlooms will begin to sprout). Separate out seed from pulp,
rinse the seeds, then dry them on paper towels or a screen in a
warm, dry place with good air circulation (try outdoors on warm
summer or fall days). After 5-7 days, place seeds in airtight
containers (plastic film canisters are good) and store indoors in
a dark, cool, dry place. If properly stored,
your seeds should remain viable for 3-5 years.
Mums are a gardener's best friend in the fall. As the latest
blooming flowers they provide color and beauty to a garden that
has otherwise been worn out for the season.
choosing mums from your local retailer buy healthy looking plants
that have been taken care of - no broken stems, wilted leaves,
etc... Plants with existing blooms will be limited in their
ability to provide much more flowering. Those with buds about to
bloom will provide you with flowers into the fall. We usually
buy several plants in bloom for immediate gratification and quite
a few more that we expect to bloom over the coming weeks. What a
great exclamation point at the end of the season!
If you're harvesting potatoes remember that they will
continue to grow as long as the tops are green. So dig only as
many as you need for immediate use. The ones left in the ground
will actually keep better there than in your home.
Beetles Strip Tomatoes...
Extension reports seeing some tomato plants virtually
stripped of foliage by Ashgray Blister Beetles. There are
several species of blister beetles other than Ashgray that could
also cause problems. Blister beetles vary in size (often between
0.5-0.75 inch long) and color (such as black, gray or
brown-striped), but most are recognized by their elongated,
narrow, cylindrical, soft bodies with middle body part (thorax)
narrower than the head or wing covers.
Some home gardeners
like to use hand picking as a nonchemical method for controlling
these large insects. However, use caution because these beetles
contain a substance called cantharidin. This chemical is an
irritant capable of blistering internal and external body
tissues exposed to the chemical. On tender human skin, body
fluids of adult blister beetles may cause large, erect, watery
Chemical control of
blister beetles is also possible. Carbaryl (Sevin) is labeled
and effective but has a three-day waiting period. However, Sevin
can encourage spider mites and so if you have spider mites or
have had them in the past, you may want to consider lambda-cyhalothrin
(Spectracide Triazicide) as it will control both blister beetles
and spider mites. This product has a 5-day waiting period.
Making The Cut...
When your plants fall victim to disease one of the first
courses of action is the removal of the diseased portions.
Careful! The same pruners that you use to cut away diseased
foliage can then transfer the disease to otherwise healthy
plants. It is generally recommended that a one in ten solution
of bleach and water be used to disinfect pruners. Rather than
keep a bucket of solution nearby try mixing the solution in a
small spray bottle. Carry it with you and spray your pruners
after each cut.
Keep your basil, parsley, mint, and sage,
producing by pinching out the seed pods. Herbs can be used
fresh, frozen, or dried. Wait until the dew has dried to cut a
few stems, tie a string around this little bouquet, and hang in
a cool, dry place until completely dry. Crumble and place in a
jar for use during the winter.
If all or parts of your cool season grass have gone dormant
this summer you should prepare for a fall comeback now by
starting a deep watering program. Make sure your lawn gets a
morning soak twice a week and you will be rewarded with stronger,
more lush growth later this fall.
"To be interested in
the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be
hopelessly in love with spring."