This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Stink Bugs On Tomatoes ~ Pesticide Problem Prevention ~ Support Your Fruits
~ Growin' Garlic ~ A Perfect Pear ~ Orange And Dusty?
~ Time To Divide Iris   ~ Inspiration
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~ All About Composting
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Seeds Indoors
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~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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This Week's Photos

~ July 30, 2008 ~

Rain, Rain, Go Away...
So about the rain... seems to be enough for now. Who would have thought that late-July could be as wet as this? It is so hard to predict from one year to the next on what to expect. In past years July has typically been hot, humid and drought-like. Predicting weather from one season to the next is something I am not interested in or good at. I will continue to be just a gardener, a past time without too much predicting.

Since we are receiving so much rain I hope the irrigation systems are off. No need to water with all of Mother Nature's help. We need some time to dry out. Funny that sounds like something I would say in April or May. I guess it is time to get caught up on what bulbs I am planting this fall. Too wet to plant, lots of time to plan.

~ Shelly   

Stink Bugs On Tomatoes...
When tomatoes on the vine develop white, pink or yellow-gold spots, the likely cause is stinkbugs, according to a Kansas State University horticulturist. Stinkbugs are the skunks of the insect world. Like skunks, these shield-shaped insects emit a foul odor when disturbed, said Ward Upham, who coordinates K-State Research and Extension's Master Gardener program. "A stinkbug injures fruit when it uses its mouthparts to probe for food. That not only affects the tomato's color development but also causes a whitish ‘callous' to develop under the skin at the wound site," Upham said. Typically, the exterior result is an off-color, cloudy spot. If stinkbugs are feeding heavily, however, the entire tomato may develop a gold hue, with pinprick-size puncture wounds in the middle of each of the overlapping spots, he said. "Unfortunately, stinkbug control is basically impossible. By the time you notice the spots, the stinkbugs usually are gone," Upham added. "Fortunately, though, the affected tomatoes are safe to eat."


Growin' Garlic...
Garlic is a cook's best friend.  Home-grown garlic is an extra special treat. Making sure your garlic is harvested correctly is simple but important:

Garlic should be harvested when the foliage begins to dry. Using a garden fork or shovel, carefully dig the bulbs with the foliage still attached. Dry the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray in a warm, well-ventilated location for 3 to 4 weeks. When properly cured, cut off the dry foliage ˝ to 1 inch above the bulbs, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil.  Place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool (32 to 40°F), dry (60 to 70% relative humidity) location.  Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for 6 to 7 months.


Time To Divide Iris...
There's some very rewarding summer work to be done right now. It's time to divide your irises. After 3 to 5 years of growth irises will become crowded and should be divided so they don't starve each other for soil nutrients. Here's a few simple steps to get the job done:

  1. Cut the leaves back to one-third their length.
  2. Dig the rhizome clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
  3. Cut the rhizomes apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of leaves and firm, white roots.
  4. Discard soft rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of the clump.
  5. Plant the divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny location.
  6. Water immediately and again in ten days if rain is scarce.

Following these steps now allows adequate time for the divisions to get established before winter and also reduces the chance of frost heaving in late winter.

Pesticide Problem Prevention...
During summer it is especially important to take care when applying pesticides. If rain has been scarce, make sure you take the time to water your plants several hours before applying pesticides. You see, drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues and the chemicals that enter the leaves will consequently be more concentrated. This in turn can lead to an unwanted burn-like condition on the leaves.

A Perfect Pear...
Unlike some crops, pears are usually best when ripened off the tree. You don't want to wait for the fruit to turn yellowish before picking. Instead, harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from dark green to lighter green and when it is easily twisted and removed from the spur.

Support Your Fruits...
When fruit on fruit trees starts getting bigger the stress on tree limbs can be substantial.  So much so that your trees may need some extra support to prevent limbs from breaking. Here are some support suggestions from K-State Extension:

  • Wooden Props - Use one-inch thick boards to prop up limbs. Cut a ‘V’ on the top edge of the board on which the limb will rest so that it doesn’t slip off. Long, heavy limbs may need a prop in the center and another near the outer part of the limb.
  • Belt Webbing - A 2-inch, plastic, belt-like material can be tied to a heavily loaded limb, then to a large diameter limb above for support. Where a large limb is used for support, it is good to have it supporting limbs on opposite sides so the weight is balanced.
  • Taping - Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they breakHeavy twine may be used, but it should be removed when the fruit is picked or soon after so it does not cut into the bark on the limb.


Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty...
Have you discovered an
orange dust clinging to your shoes after walking through the lawn? You're not alone. Rust diseases attack all turfgrasses, but are most often found on susceptible Bluegrass, tall fescue ryegrass and Zoysia in late August and early September. Unlike some other turf fungi, this particular fungus (Puccinia), can do serious damage resulting in thinning and winterkill. The best protection is healthy turf management, including proper levels of fertilizer, watering, and mowing at the recommended height (normally 3 inches at this time of the year).

As always (this time of year) avoid night watering.

"Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. "

~ Pepper Giardino



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