~ June 11, 2008 ~
Windy, Wet, Weary...
It is windy today but dry and warm. Trying to stay on top of getting things planted has been a challenge.
The soil is wet. If you are still planting like I am, make sure that you are careful about how you plant.
What I do is dig the hole for whatever I am planting and remove the wet soil and replace it with a
combination of topsoil and compost. I then take the wet, compacted soil to an area of the garden where
there is plenty of sun. The soil then receives an opportunity to dry out allowing me to use it at a later
time. A win, win situation for both me and the plant.
The good news is that we haven't had to water at all. The bad news is that my feet have become webbed.
I've had enough of the rain, lightning and high winds. We were without power Sunday evening into early
Monday morning due to lightning hitting a transformer a couple blocks away. It
wasn't too bad. Being the crazy weather watchers that we are we loaded up the whole family and ventured
out to get ice cream. We also drove down to the Plaza to catch a glimpse of Brush Creek. The water was
moving at an alarmingly fast rate. It looked like a small river with some very treacherous rapids. It
truly is amazing how fast moving water can be so devastating.
Our gardening friends in Pittsburg, Kansas are having a city wide gardening tour this Saturday, June 14th.
Learn more by following this link. Also our friend Becky Homan will
be signing her book
The Missouri Gardener's Companion on Friday, June 13th on the plaza at
Barnes & Nobel from 1-4 PM. Fun things!
When Good Mulch Goes Bad...
There's bound to be a few Savvygardeners
out there that had a pile of mulch delivered before or during the
rains we've had recently. If you didn't get that
mulch covered be
careful. Hardwood mulch can become a real problem if left too long in a damp pile. Not only
does it smell bad once it "sours" it can adversely affect plants
that it comes in contact with. Symptoms look like fertilizer or
pesticide burn or water stress. Damage can be severe enough to
actually kill plants - yikes!
Depending on the extent of the injury, plants are often able to
recover. Savvygardeners should water affected plants during hot,
dry periods to prevent further stress.
Mulch that has soured can still be used if it is "mellowed" before
application. Simply spread the mulch in shallow layers and allow
it to air out for several days until it no longer smells.
Is That A Volcano In Your Garden?
Speaking of mulch... When mulching
try to avoid creating "mulch volcanoes" at the base of your
trees. Unfortunately it is quite common to see trees mulched in
this manner - a ring of mulch that gets progressively deeper as
it approaches the trunk. While this is better than no mulch at
all the University of Missouri Extension advises
us that there are some real problems to consider:
- When mulch is placed
more than about 4 inches deep, roots tend to "migrate" up into
the mulch during rainy periods or when the area is irrigated.
Then, when drought conditions occur, the plant may come under
severe stress because many of its roots are growing in a
material with much less water holding capacity than real soil.
- The surfaces of the
mulch volcanoes can become hydrophobic due to fungal activity
and will act as very effective umbrellas, shedding water to the
surrounding turf. This could easily kill a young tree by
depriving it of much needed water.
- Other possible problems
with mulch volcanoes are promotion of fungal canker diseases by
constant moisture around the lower trunk, stress from poor gas
exchange by the cells in the bark and damage from rodents that
may take up residence in the volcano.
Blackspot On Roses...
A common disease of roses is blackspot, a fungal disease that can
cause defoliation of susceptible plants. Look for dark, circular
lesions with feathery edges on the top surface of the leaves and
raised purple spots on young canes. Infected leaves will often
yellow between spots and eventually drop. The infection usually
starts on the lower leaves and works its way up the plant.
Blackspot is most severe under conditions of high relative
humidity (> 85%), warm temperatures (75 to 85 degrees F) and six
or more hours of leaf wetness. Newly expanding leaves are most
vulnerable to infection. The fungus can survive on fallen leaves
or canes and is disseminated primarily by splashing water.
Cultural practices are
the first line of defense.
susceptible roses unless you are willing to use fungicide
Follow this link for a list
of blackspot resistant varieties.
water off the foliage. Drip irrigation works best with
Plant roses in
sunny areas with good air movement to limit the amount of
time the foliage is wet.
leaves that have fallen and prune out infected rose canes to
If needed, gardeners can protect foliage with a regular spray program of
effective fungicides. Recommended fungicides include
tebuconazole (Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and
Shrubs), myclobutanil (Immunox), triforine (Funginex),
thiophanate methyl (Fertilome Halt) and chlorothalonil (Broad
Spectrum Fungicide, Garden Disease Control.
One of our least favorite parts of summer
is the arrival (or re-emergence) of mosquitoes. This year is no
exception. Eliminating sources of standing water is the most effective way
of keeping mosquito populations in check but it is sometimes
impractical for gardeners. Here are some good tips for
dealing with standing water that can't be removed.
- Drain or empty the water
in dog bowls, wading pools and
birdbaths at least once-a-week.
This will ensure egg-stage mosquitoes never have time to
- Irrigate lawns and gardens
carefully. Where soils have high clay content, for example,
irrigating slowly or irrigating several times lightly will
allow the clay to absorb the water, rather than causing
puddles and runoff.
- Stock ornamental ponds with
mosquito larvae-eating fish, such as goldfish.
- Remove in-water plants from the
edges of garden ponds to allow fish access to the larvae living
and developing there.
- Using a retail product to control
mosquito larvae will be more effective and less costly than
trying to control the flying adults.
Fruit Dropping, Branch Propping...
Don't be alarmed if tree fruit is dropping this time of year.
It's just Mother nature's natural thinning process designed to
prevent excessive loads. Just in case the branch loads remain
too heavy you should thin remaining fruit by hand or prop up
heavy branches to avoid breakage. Most fruit should be spaced 6
to 8 inches apart on a branch.
Through Hail and Back...
Many of us have been living through some pretty severe storms lately - a reminder of
how harsh Mother Nature can be. Since many of our severe storms carry hail it's important to think
about the implications of hail damage on our trees -
especially those with thin bark. Ned Tisserat, Plant Pathologist
for the Cooperative Extension Service at the
K-State Research and Extension Horticulture office explained
the problem to us several years ago year and the advice is as
good today as it was then. "Hail may strip the bark off trees or provide
entrance points for canker and shoot blight diseases. Thyronectria canker of honeylocust, perennial canker of peach and
Sphaeropsis tip blight of pines may increase dramatically
following a hail storm. A fungicide application immediately
following a hail storm is sometimes warranted. However, the
application should be made relatively soon after the injury
(within a few days). Unfortunately, in most cases fungicide
applications are made well beyond the point they will do any
In other words, act quickly to thwart any unnecessary disease that might
Taxing Times For Turf...
The next few months will likely be very taxing for your
fescue or bluegrass lawn. Long, hot and humid days, with little
rainfall can make even the greenest lawns wilt. While it's
probably not possible to keep your turf looking perfectly lush
and green all summer you can prepare it for the heat by raising
the cutting height of your mower. Fescues and bluegrass should
be cut at a height of 3 to 3Ĺ inches. Determine your
mowing frequency by cutting no more than one-third of the blade
height with each cutting. This means cutting when it reaches 4Ĺ
inches or so.
"The home gardener is part scientist, part artist, part philosopher,
part plowman. He modifies the climate around his home."
~ John R. Whiting