September 19, 2007
You can see from Kevin's photos
(last week's photos) that we have watermelon
and cantaloupe growing in our vegetable garden
(or should I say our fruit
garden). The ones pictured are the
largest and should be ripe for harvesting around Thanksgiving
(ha!). Even though we will not get a chance to enjoy a
taste of either there is still something very satisfying about
growing your own produce. My father has done it for years and
every year he harvests something he will tell you that there is
nothing more gratifying. Isn't it the little things in life that
are sometimes the most enjoyable?
How about that rain
last night? We received almost an inch here in Mission Hills. I
loved everything about it. The lightening, the thunder and the
rain pouring out of the sky. A welcome relief. I have purchased
a bunch of pansies
(this week's photos) so I am going to be busy
the next few days switching over to a fall. I am excited by the
opportunity to become creative with new material. Once I finish
I will have Kevin take some pictures so I can share my ideas
with all of my gardening friends. I'm excited!
Today is a special
day. It is Kevin's birthday. Happy Birthday partner. Love you
Totally Tulips (Part
If you enjoy the thought of continuously blooming tulips in
your spring garden you will need to round out the early and
middle bloomers (discussed in the previous two issues) with some
of these later blooming varieties:
Single Late Tulips incorporate the former Darwin, cottage,
and breeder tulips. Along with the Darwin hybrid tulips, they
are some of the tallest tulips. Flowers are borne on stems up
to 30 inches tall and available in a wide range of colors.
Double Late Tulips are often referred to as peony-flowered
tulips. The many-petaled flowers are borne on 12 to 20 inch
stems. Plant double late tulips in protected locations as the
large flowers can be damaged by rain and strong winds.
Viridiflora Tulips produce long-lasting flowers which have
prominent green markings on their petals. The unusual flower
characteristics make it a novelty item in the garden.
Lily-flowering Tulips have long pointed petals which arch
outward, the flowers somewhat resembling a lily. Flower colors
include white, pink, red, yellow, and purple. Several varieties
have petals edged or feathered in contrasting colors. Plants
grow to a height of 20 to 30 inches.
Fringed Tulips have flowers with elegant fringed petals.
Many varieties are mutants of single late tulips. Also known
as "crispa tulips."
Rembrandt Tulips produce striped or "broken" blooms. The
white, yellow, or red petals are striped with red, bronze, or
purple. These types were bought for huge sums during the
"tulip mania" in Holland in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. The unusual markings were actually caused by a
virus. Due to the virus, the original Rembrandt tulips are no
longer sold. However, there are several modern, virus-free
Rembrandt tulips available.
Multi-flowering Tulips produce 3 to 7 blooms per stem. The
main stem of multi-flowering tulips branches into secondary
stems. Each secondary stem produces a flower. The flower on
the main stem is slightly larger than those on the secondary
stems. Many of the multi-flowering cultivars belong to the
single late tulip class. These tulips are 14- to 20-inch-tall
plants which bloom late in the season. Several varieties are
multi-flowering Greigii tulips which are 8 to 12 inches tall
and early blooming.
Diggin' On Trees...
Fall is the preferred time to plant many trees and shrubs.
Warm soil, moderate air temperatures and autumn rains all help a
tree adjust to its new environment and set down roots with a
minimum of stress and shock. If you are transplanting
deciduous trees and shrubs, wait until their leaves have
dropped or at least changed color. Evergreens and conifers,
however, benefit from early planting in fall. In either case
watering (1 inch weekly until the ground is frozen) and mulching
the root zone are crucial to success.
Make Green Tomatoes See Red...
All this cool weather means
green tomatoes are not likely to ripen on the vine. And
what's worse, if a rogue frost comes our way
it's game over. Here are two approaches to getting those
green tomatoes to ripen out of harm's
the whole plant, roots and all, and hang it upside-down in a
cool, dark area indoors or in a garage. At temperatures in the
60's those tomatoes should ripen nicely. Just pull them off
the vine as they are individually ready.
- If the
above method is a bit messy for you try picking the green
tomatoes and individually wrapping them in newspaper. Place
them in a paper bag or cardboard box and store in a cool, dark
place. Keep an eye on them periodically. When they start to
redden up unwrap them and let them finish ripening at room
temperature. Hint - If you're in a hurry place an apple in
the bag with the wrapped tomatoes.
tomatoes won't be far away!
K-State Extension reports whitefly
problems on outdoor plants such as annuals, tomatoes and other
vegetables in our region. Whiteflies
do not overwinter well in the Kansas City
area but can build up later in the season due to
migration from more southern climes
and introductions from transplants.
need to control them on your
vegetables, try an insecticidal soap or a neem based product.
These products are much more effective if used before the
population builds up. On ornamental
plants we have more options
including Bayer Rose & Flower Insect Killer, malathion,
insecticidal soap, neem based products, pyrethrin, and Ortho
Rose and Flower Insect Control.
attention to houseplants that have spent the summer outside.
Check carefully for whiteflies before bringing inside for the
winter. If whiteflies are present, use a product labeled for
houseplants. All the products listed above but malathion are
labeled for houseplant use.
Beyond Soil Tests...
Though soil tests are useful for
identifying nutrient deficiencies as well as soil pH, they do not
tell the whole story. In addition to issues related to water and
sunshine here are some factors that can affect plant growth that
are not due to nutrient deficiencies or pH.
Too much phosphorus: While most Kansas City area soils
are naturally low in phosphorus, soils that have been
fertilized for a number of years may have phosphorus levels
that are quite high. Too much phosphorus can interfere with the
uptake of some micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc.
High phosphorus soils should only be fertilized with
fertilizers that have relatively low amounts of phosphorus.
Poor soil physical characteristics: Roots need oxygen as
much as they need water. A tight clay soil can restrict soil
oxygen levels as well as make root penetration of the soil
difficult. Increasing the organic matter content of clay soils
can help break them up. Add a 2-inch layer of organic matter
and till it in.
Walnut trees: Walnuts give off a natural herbicide that
interferes with the growth of some plants such as tomatoes.
Vegetable gardens should be at least 50 feet away from walnut
trees if possible.
Tree roots: Trees not only compete with other plants for
sun but also for water and nutrients. Extra water and nutrients
may be needed.
Shallow soils: When new homes are built, the topsoil is
often stripped off before the soils are brought to grade.
Though the topsoil should be replaced, it sometimes is not or
is not replaced to the same depth as it was originally. You are
left with a subsoil that usually does not allow plants to grow
well due to a lack of soil structure. Adding topsoil to a depth
of 8 to 12 inches would be best but this often is not
practical. In such cases, try to rebuild structure by adding
organic matter and working it into the soil.
It's not unusual for Savvygardeners to
noticeable needle drop on some of their
pines. This is a process where 2 to 4-year-old
interior needles turn yellow, then brown, and eventually drop
off. Don't be alarmed! This is a
natural phenomenon that occurs every year and does not hurt the
tree. However, some years it is much more noticeable than others.
Still worried? Be sure to check that
only the older needles are affected (the
needles on the tips of the branches should look fine)
and that there is no spotting or banding on the needles
that are turning yellow.
If you planted grass seed and have new
grass coming in here are a couple of good reminders for you:
Keep it cut to about
Just be careful that mower wheels don't tear
the grass from the soil.
Don't apply any
herbicides or insecticides until the new grass has been mowed
"Never dare tell me
again anything about "green grass." Tell me how the lawn was
flecked with shadows. I know perfectly well that grass is green.
So does everybody else in England...
Make me see what it was that made your garden distinct from a
Robert Louis Stevenson