~ 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.
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
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:
- Cut the leaves
back to one-third their length.
- Dig the rhizome
clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
- Cut the rhizomes
apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of
leaves and firm, white roots.
- Discard soft
rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of
- Plant the
divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny
- 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
- 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
- Taping -
Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around
the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they
break. Heavy 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
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