~ June 4, 2008 ~
Gotta' Get To Work...
Wow - those were some kind of storms that passed through here last night. Our rain gauge is broken
(I have ordered a new one) so I am not exactly sure how much precipitation we received. I overheard
someone from Olathe say they had close to 6 inches. A lot of rain in a very short period of time.
We experienced some pea size hail but fortunately there was no damage in our area. One unfortunate
mishap was rain in the basement. When it rains like it did last night we always have a couple of
areas where the water seeps in. My guess is that we were not the only people affected by the same
problem. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to dry out before the next deluge.
Are you still planting? I presently have a whole
driveway of plants waiting to be put in the
ground: 3 Emerald Green Arborvitae, 3 Hydrangeas, 2 Plantain Hostas, 3 Bleeding Hearts, 1 Globe
Blue Spruce, 46 True Dwarf Boxwoods and several Coral Bells. But wait there's more. 12 cubic
yards of Premium 1 Mulch from
Missouri Organic is being delivered Saturday afternoon. I will
be topdressing existing and new beds. Guess I better stop typing and get to work!
Controlling Critters On Your Cukes...
The striped cucumber beetle is a serious threat to cucurbits,
such as squash, cucumber, melon and pumpkin. The larvae will
cause severe damage to roots and beetles can do a real number on
an emerging plant by feeding on the lower surface of its leaves.
These menaces also spread bacterial wilt, cucumber mosaic, and
squash mosaic virus.
Although there are several insecticides that control the cucumber
beetle, only a few chemicals can be used on cucurbit plants
because of their sensitivity to chemical injury. Hand-picking is an
organic approach and should be done in the
early morning when most feeding occurs. These beetles are easy
to kill but reinforcements arriving on the plants make this a
very time consuming job.
Insecticides labeled for vegetables containing pyrethrum,
rotenone, methoxychlor, or carbaryl (Sevin) should control the
beetles. As always, follow directions and warnings carefully
when using chemicals.
One of the reasons we love daylilies is their fuss-free
nature. Generally they don't need to be divided as often as many
other perennials. However if you want to increase the number of
your favorite cultivars you may want to divide them once in a
while. Savvygardeners should be able to get four new plants from
a healthy, 4-year old daylily. Divide them immediately after
flowering, and replant them right away.
Monitor Those Melons...
Recent and upcoming warmer temperatures are sure to
give watermelons a growth boost. Keep an eye on them! As
vines from different plants begin to intermingle, and the canopy
becomes thicker, the chances of developing anthracnose increase.
It's a good idea to scout watermelon patches once or twice a week
for this disease. Look for multiple small brown to black spots
on leaves. These spots are typically associated with leaf
veins. As the spots coalesce and dry out, the leaf may appear
Crop rotation and the use of resistant cultivars are your best non-chemical
preventive measures against anthracnose. If you want to use chemicals it's a
good idea to implement a preventive fungicide
spray schedule, especially during rainy periods. Available fungicides change
yearly so check with your local garden center and follow the directions carefully.
Give 'Em Room To Breathe...
Just because your plant is wilting don't assume it's due to lack of
water. Plants can wilt from lack of oxygen too! Soil can
become over-compacted and cause root systems to suffocate. The
problem is often made worse by assuming the plant is thirsty and
adding water unnecessarily.
Improving the soil for better air and water circulation is easy.
Simply add peat moss or other loose organic material in and around the root
area of your plants. Everyone will breathe easier!
New Trees From Cuttings...
Now is a good time to start new trees and shrubs from existing ones. Many
ornamental trees and shrubs can be reproduced by taking cuttings
from new growth that occurred this spring. Though these
softwood cuttings root relatively easily, they are
susceptible to wilting and need close attention to watering and
It is best if cuttings
are taken after a rain or several hours after the plant has
been well watered.
Stems should be mature
enough that they snap rather than bend when placed under
Cuttings should be
about 6 inches long with cuts made at an angle just below a
node, the area where a leaf joins the stem. The angle provides
a larger cut surface and more area for the cutting to callus
Strip off the lower
leaves and place the cutting in a moist rooting media after it
has been dipped in rooting powder. Several rooting mediums are
suitable including sand with peat moss, sand with vermiculite,
perlite with peat moss, and perlite with vermiculite. A
suitable medium should provide good moisture-holding capacity
and be open enough to provide good aeration to the roots.
should be kept at a high level by enclosing the container or
containers in a plastic bag. Use wooden dowels or a similar
object to keep the plastic off the top of the cuttings.
Place the rooting
container in bright, indirect light and check often for
plants can be rooted directly in water, roots formed in water do
not adapt well to soil. When roots are about 1 inch long,
cuttings can be removed from the propagation chamber and potted.
Dividing Ornamental Grass...
If large clumps of ornamental grasses such
as maiden grass have hollow centers, this is a sign they need
dividing for best growth. Large clumps can have massive roots
and be quite heavy, so we find it easier to just divide pieces
off the sides rather than to lift the whole clump. A
square-tipped spade works best for this. You may even need to
get such divisions started with a hatchet!
If the appearance of your lawn after mowing is not what you expect
there are a few things worth evaluating.
Check your mowing height.
You should mow as high as possible for the specific
grass type (2½ to 3 inches is a healthy height for most
Consider your mowing frequency.
A higher mowed turf will need to be
mowed less frequently and scalp less often than a closely mowed
Probably most importantly, check
the sharpness of your mower blade.
Dull or damaged mower blades do not cut cleanly and
leave ragged leaf tips. These ragged
wounds are very stressful to the turf plant, and provide an
excellent opportunity for some disease pathogens to penetrate
and infect the plant.
"And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air
(where it comes and goes, like the warbling of music) than
in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight
than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best
perfume the air."
~ Francis Bacon