~ July 16, 2008 ~
What Summer Brings...
It has been another busy week. The kids are finalizing some of their summer
activities and I am trying to finalize some things in the garden. I am done
planting for now. I'm tired. I am now busy caring for everything we've planted.
It happens to me every year at about this time. I lose my gonna' go, go, go till
I drop outside attitude. It is the heat, which has not yet been that bad, the
bugs (we have giant mosquitoes in our back yard that are immune to bug spray)
and then there's the desire. After watering pots and pulling an occasional
weed or two I take a look around and think, "not too bad", and mosey back inside to
do some other task. I like to call it vacation. I need time away from my full
time gardening job so that I can renew my thoughts and spirit. It is working
as I am already looking forward to fall with an excited sense of what we will do next.
Wasn't the rain we had Saturday great? The kind where it rains most of the day
so you don't feel too guilty about maybe taking in a movie or even a nap
which seems to be one of my favorite rainy day things to do. There is something
so amazing about a rain that falls so steady and slow. You can almost hear the
earth saying, "Ah this feels so good". Sort of like standing in the shower for
hours, letting the rain fall off your body. And just when you think it can't
get any better the temperatures fall into the 70's. We went to the Royals game
that night and I was dressed in jeans and a jacket. It was wonderful! You never
know what a Kansas summer will bring. I guess that is why we continue to stick
around year after year.
Beat The Heat...
We've certainly had hotter summers than this but it's still a good
idea to be careful when gardening in the heat. Quite simply, exposure to too much hot weather can be
dangerous. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:
that occur outdoors in sunny areas should be done in early
morning or late afternoon whenever possible, not during the
midday heat. Most watering, pruning, dead heading, etc., is
better for plants when done in early morning. Many chemicals,
especially insecticides, are better applied late in the day
when the wind is down and beneficial insects are not present.
yourself to acclimate to the heat slowly. Over a period of a
week or two, gradually increase the amount of time spent in
hot, still areas or in direct sun.
- Be sure
to stay hydrated, drinking as many liquids as possible. Don't
wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, as thirst is an
indicator that your body is already dehydrated. Water is
preferred, except when heat cramps occur (then drink a lightly
salted beverage like a sports drink). The water's temperature
should be cool, not cold.
tempting, do not work in the yard in a tank top or without a
shirt due to the potential for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear
loose fitting, light colored clothes. Keep the fabric content
high in cotton to aid sweat evaporation. Neckbands, headbands,
wristbands, visors, and hats can increase evaporation to keep
the body cool.
take frequent breaks to reduce the amount of time spent in the
sun or heat. After working for an hour, take a break to cool
down and have a drink in the shade to reduce the build up of
heat stress on your body.
Drinks For The Droopy...
It's not uncommon to venture out to the garden at the end of
a hot day to find some pretty droopy plants. Don't immediately
assume that they need to be watered. It may be that there is
adequate moisture in the soil but your plant's roots just can't
keep up with the needs of the leaves. If the soil is already
moist you are better off letting the plants catch up on their own
overnight. If they're still droopy in the morning give them a
Houseplants, Douse Plants...
This is a great time of year to take your houseplants outside for
a bath. Insect and mite populations can sometimes creep up on you
this time of year, but not to worry. Take houseplants outside and
gently hose them off. This will not only wash away harmful pests,
but will remove dust from the leaf surfaces and leave plant pores
cleaner and able to breathe easier.
Get More Blooms...
Deadheading roses and annuals such as
petunias, marigolds, and zinnias will promote reblooming
throughout the season. You can fool biannuals, like hollyhocks
and foxglove, into thinking they are perennials by cutting off
the old blossoms before seed pods form.
To deadhead a rose, cut the flower stem back to an
outward facing bud just above a 5- leaflet or 7- leaflet leaf.
For most other flowers simply cut the stem just below the spent
Sweet & Corny...
Corn lovers know that standard sweet corn is at its peak for
only a day or so (supersweet corn maintains its peak
quality for a little longer). Timing is everything. For the
sweetest corn harvest when silks begin to dry, and kernels exude
a milky (rather than watery or doughy) juice when punctured.
Orange Means Hot...
This heat is going to affect tomato harvests. Tomatoes ripen
best when temperatures stay below eighty-five degrees. When the
temperatures hover in the mid-nineties several problems can
occur. The ripening process slows down and color compounds do
not form properly. Instead of a bright red tomato you may wind
up with an orange-red one. Try picking the tomatoes at the first
flush of color and ripening them indoors.
Ozone, Mow Zone...
Small gasoline engines like those found on
lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers lack pollution
controls. According to the
Regional Council the average lawnmower produces as
much pollution in one hour as forty
late-model cars! Do yourself, and your
fellow gardeners, a favor by not mowing on
days. If you have to mow, try to do it after 7 PM.
"He who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires
a greater stock of religious merit than he could gain by the
repetition of ten thousand prayers."