~ July 9, 2008 ~
Trying To Beat The Heat...
I was so thankful for the rain yesterday. It came hard and fast but was welcome
nonetheless. We were given a beautiful 4th and then the heat really kicked in
over the weekend into Monday. Sunday and Monday were stinking hot! Heat index
almost into the 100's. Yuck. That is too hot for me. The heat is one thing
but enduring the high humidity is another. I worked outside Monday morning
for just a short while and gave up after an hour. My clothes were soaked.
It was oppressive and I was not enjoying myself. The next three days are
supposed to remain cooler and for that I am grateful. Roses need deadheading,
salvia needs cut back and there is always general cleaning and pick-up that needs to be done.
I have to tell you that I love our new fountain we put in the center of the patio in
the back-yard. I love sitting outside, listening to the gurgling sounds of water.
Very soothing. Of course the mosquitoes are starting to get bad so I have not been
spending as much time as I would like. We were inside the other day and our oldest
son Noah said, "Mom, Dad, look at the Robin!" It was bathing in the top of the fountain
It was so much fun watching. I am sure the robin enjoyed bathing as much as Kevin, Noah and
I enjoyed watching. That was one happy bird staying cool on a very hot
To promote growth, vigor and optimum flowering, iris clumps
may be raised and divided every three years or so. Dig up the
rhizomes carefully to avoid damage to rhizomes and their roots.
Examine them for the presence of worm-like insects called iris
borers, which may seriously damage or destroy the plant. If they
are found, remove them, cut out the affected tissue and dust with
a garden insecticide, such as Sevin, before replanting. Select
sound rhizomes with two or more growing points. Rhizomes may be
cut apart with a sharp knife, or snapped apart by hand. Be sure
to preserve as many rhizome roots as possible. The best time to
divide iris is in mid-summer while the plants are dormant. Late
July through mid August is preferred.
Trees Shedding Bark...
Trees naturally shed bark as they grow. The amount of bark shed
varies significantly from one year to the next and is usually not
noticeable. But some trees, such as sycamore, London Planetree
and silver maple, shed bark in large patches or strips. During a
year with heavy shedding homeowners may become concerned that the
tree is sick or dying. Such usually is not the case. Sycamore and
London Planetree normally show a bright green color on the
branches when the bark first falls off but soon return to normal.
Maple reveals an orange color after shedding but it, too, soon
returns to normal. There is nothing wrong with the tree as long
as the shedding bark simply reveals underlying bark rather than
When Is A Tomato Ripe?
Early July starts tomato ripening time in Kansas City. We’ve all heard
of ‘vine ripe’ flavor but does a tomato have to remain on the
vine until it is completely ripe? The answer is no. When a tomato
reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins
the ripening process which is regulated by an internal gas
produced within the fruit called ethylene. After the tomato
reaches a stage when it about ˝ green and ˝ pink (called the
‘breaker stage’), a layer of cells forms across the stem of the
tomato- sealing it from the main vine. At this point there is
nothing moving from the plant into the fruit. At this stage the
tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of
flavor, quality or nutrition.
Red pigments in tomatoes don’t form above 95°F so tomatoes ripened
in extreme heat will have a orange-red
color. Tomatoes held at cooler temperatures will ripen slower.
You can speed up or slow down the ripening process by raising the
temperature (to an optimum of 85°F) or lowering the temperature
(to a minimum of 50°F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor, nutrition, and color when
the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this doesn’t have to
occur on the plant!
When To Pick A Pepper...
Depending on what variety of bell pepper you are growing and
what color you want it to be you have different guidelines to
follow for the timing of your harvest. Green bell
varieties are usually picked when they are fully grown and
mature - 3 to 4 inches long, firm and green. Colored bell
peppers start out green but should be left on the plant until
they develop full flavor and ripen fully to red, yellow, orange
Fall Crops Begin Now...
A fall harvest of cabbage, vine crops, broccoli, cauliflower, and
Brussels sprouts means setting transplants in late July. For
lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale, and spinach, you
should sow seeds in late July to early August.
Brussels sprouts are especially good fall crops as their flavor is
enhanced by a mild frost. They are hungry little guys so make
monthly applications of 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of ˝ cup per
square yard from the time the plants are 4 inches tall through harvest.
Dormez Vous Fescue?
We've had a number of Savvygardeners ask about letting lawns go
dormant during summer. This time of year many cool-season
grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and perennial rye will
naturally go dormant and turn brown due to lack of water or too
much heat. Remember, the lawn is not dead - it's only dormant
and will green up again when the weather is more favorable in the
fall. Mow it regularly to about three inches and water during
extended dry periods.
Now, we've been around long enough to know that most of you can't stand the
idea of brown grass all summer. If you wish to keep the lawn
green you will need to follow a regular watering routine before
the lawn begins to brown. Once the lawn goes dormant
watering will not generally green it up until fall. You will
need about 1 inch of rain or irrigation per week. It is better
to give the lawn a good soaking (to a 6 inch depth) once a week
than frequent light watering. Always water early in the day to
reduce disease occurrence.
Looking for a good, low exertion chore for the hot weather?
Try inspecting your shade trees and the grass below them. They
may be getting so full of branches that not enough sunlight
filters through to your grass. If your grass is just not making
it under a particular tree you can stand in its shade and make
some notes for future pruning. You'd be surprised how well grass
will respond to even a moderate amount of increased sunlight.
"Winter is cold-hearted,
Spring is yea and nay,
Autumn is a weather cock
Blown every way.
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree."
~ Christina Rossetti