~ August 6, 2008 ~
Relief at last! After experiencing temperatures in the the high 90's with heat indices into the 100's
we were due for a change. I spent a couple of hours outside just because I could. The humidity was not
as bad and the cloud cover helped to keep the temperature reasonably low. The clouds kept threatening
rain but as of yet we have received only a few sprinkles. The mosquitoes are still fierce but I must
say it was delightful to be outside without feeling like I was a wilting flower. It was bearable
which is more than I could say for the last few days. The forecast holds some hope for cooler temperatures.
By cooler I mean high 80's which sounds like the 60's compared to what we have been experiencing. Needless
to say I am relieved that the intense heat and humidity is at bay for now. What a miserable couple of weeks.
It has been busy around here and I am sure that has been the case for many others. School starts next week and we are
busy getting the kids prepared. Never an easy task. Haircuts, new clothes, shoes, school supplies.
The list seems endless. I am sad. Summer vacation has flown by once again. It seems only yesterday that it was the end
of May and the kids were starting their summer break. Time, something I find to be very
elusive the older I become.
Our tomatoes are producing fruit like crazy. Of course we have yet to pick a large one due to the wild animals (squirrels and chipmunks) which roam
our backyard. I am not surprised. We have tried nearly everything we can think of to keep the wildlife away but are not
having much luck. Oh well, I got to eat a couple of cherry tomatoes that were delicious. My prized harvest for the year.
Lush Lawns Are Looming...
Fall is just around the corner and there's no better time of
year to renovate your lawn. Take a hard look at your grass and
decide just how much work you have ahead of you.
- If you
just need to thicken it up, a round
of over-seeding will probably do the trick. To ensure good
seed to soil contact you might want to make use of a
verticutter. This handy machine, which can be rented locally,
makes nice vertical cuts in your existing lawn and soil. Over
this cutting you can broadcast your seeds. Seeds should find
their way into the soil where they will germinate nicely.
other year or so you should try core aerating your
lawn. Doing so will control and prevent problems such as
thatch and soil compaction. Core aerating machines will pull
up numerous plugs of soil about the diameter of a pencil,
making holes into the lawn. Leave the plugs on the surface and
work the lawn as usual.
- If your
lawn is so overridden with perennial weeds or you're ready to
try a new type of grass altogether you will need to eliminate
what's there with Round Up or other appropriate herbicide.
Once the grass and weeds are dead use a verticutter or roto-tiller
to prepare the soil for new seed.
about weeds - If crabgrass is appearing in your lawn in mid
to late summer, remember that it's an annual and will die-off as
temperatures drop later this fall. For perennial weeds it is
best to delay herbicide applications until a newly planted lawn
has been mowed at least 3 times. This gives the new grass time
to mature to a point where it is not so sensitive to the weed
Helpful Harvest Hints...
Vegetable harvest can be confusing - especially if
you're still new at it. Here are some quick tips to help with a
few local favorites:
onions after the tops yellow and fall, then cure them in
a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. The necks should be free of
moisture when fully cured in about a week's time.
potatoes after the tops yellow and die. Potatoes also
need to be cured before storage.
beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage
sweet corn when kernels are plump and ooze a milky juice
when punctured with your fingernail. If the liquid is watery,
you're too early; if the kernels are doughy, you're too late.
Waste Not, Want Not...
Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to
preventing drips in our faucets and other indoor
plumbing. For some reason however we are ready to ignore
dribbles and trickles in our garden hoses and spigots. Unless
those leaks are falling right where moisture is needed (not
likely) it is simply a waste of water. Depending on the rate of
the leak it is entirely possible to waste hundreds of gallons
of water every day. In most cases it's a matter of simply
tightening hose connections and fittings. Applying Teflon tape
to threaded connectors will stop more stubborn leaks. It may
also be time to replace that old leaky hose altogether.
One More Water Saver...
Speaking of stopping wasted water... When was the last
time you looked at your automatic sprinkler system in action?
If you haven't seen it in a while (or ever) you might be
surprised where you are watering (and where you're not).
Pop-up sprinkler heads can get out out of alignment over time
and as a result will wind up watering sidewalks, driveways,
adjacent roads, or other areas that don't need watering. So,
take a few minutes to manually activate your watering system and
see if any of those sprinkler heads need some adjustments.
Getting Ready For Winter...
While it may be August it's actually time for your trees and shrubs to start preparing for
winter. They've got some tough conditions to prepare for and it
begins now. The best thing you can do to help is lay off the
fertilizer. Fertilizing now will only stimulate late growth that
won't have time to harden-off properly before winter. Keep
watering however. You still want to keep them alive after all!
Thump Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers probably have some pretty big fruit by
now. You don't want to harvest your melons too early! Just
check for these tell-tale indicators of ripeness:
underside ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow.
tendril closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels.
- The rind
loses its gloss and appears dull.
melon produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when
Savvygardeners growing warm-season grasses like zoysia should
make their last application of fertilizer this week. Fertilizing
into fall can interfere with the all important hardening-off
process that prepares the grass for winter.
"Many herbes and flowers with their
fragrant sweet smels doe comfort,
and as it were revive the spirits and
perfume the whole house."
~ John Parkinson, 1629