~ August 20, 2008 ~
Time For Change...
It is time for change. No, I am not running for President but I am
tired of looking at those summer annuals. Time to bring new life to
the garden by adding some new colors and textures. "How?" you might ask.
Try planting pansies,mums and asters. Not only will these plants bring
new life to the garden, you should seem them in pots. You will be
amazed at how adding these beauties will give you a garden pick-me-up.
Since it feels like fall, I am thinking and planting like fall.
OK, we can't seem to grow vegetables. In May we planted peppers,
watermelon and cantaloupe. Lots of blossoms, no fruit. Kevin and
I have come to the conclusion that the area we planted these plants
in is not getting enough sun. So... another lesson learned. We
will keep trying although vegetables are not our strong suit. We
are more of the "Oh, that flower is the prettiest I've seen" gardeners.
Neither good nor bad, just the way we seem to be.
We may get some rain, we may not. Doesn't matter to me right now.
Too happy with the weather to be complaining.
Heirloom Tomato Seeds...
Heirloom Tomatoes have been increasing in
popularity recently. Saving seeds from these oldies-but-goodies
is a great idea but maybe not as simple
as you think. First of all you need to take some
precautions to prevent cross-pollination from other tomato
varieties nearby or the seeds may not produce the tomato you
wanted. If you grow more than one variety of tomato, they should
be planted at least 20-25 feet apart. In addition, a tall barrier
crop (corn, pole beans, fruit trees, etc), or a continuous
pollen-producing crop (squash) should be planted between
varieties to distract the bees. These precautions will prevent
most wind caused cross-pollination, and cause bees to visit only
one tomato variety at a time before returning to the hive to
clean off their collected pollen.
from healthy plants with the best fruit quality. Pick the fruit
when ripe, scoop out seeds and pulp into a bowl with a little
water then leave to ferment for 4 days (no longer or some
heirlooms will begin to sprout). Separate out seed from pulp,
rinse the seeds, then dry them on paper towels or a screen in a
warm, dry place with good air circulation (try outdoors on warm
summer or fall days). After 5-7 days, place seeds in airtight
containers (plastic film canisters are good) and store indoors in
a dark, cool, dry place. If properly stored,
your seeds should remain viable for 3-5 years.
Mums are a gardener's best friend in the fall. As the latest
blooming flowers they provide color and beauty to a garden that
has otherwise been worn out for the season.
choosing mums from your local retailer buy healthy looking plants
that have been taken care of - no broken stems, wilted leaves,
etc... Plants with existing blooms will be limited in their
ability to provide much more flowering. Those with buds about to
bloom will provide you with flowers into the fall. We usually
buy several plants in bloom for immediate gratification and quite
a few more that we expect to bloom over the coming weeks. What a
great exclamation point at the end of the season!
If you're harvesting potatoes remember that they will
continue to grow as long as the tops are green. So dig only as
many as you need for immediate use. The ones left in the ground
will actually keep better there than in your home.
Blister Beetles On Tomatoes...
This time of year gardeners may find some tomato plants virtually
stripped of foliage by Ashgray Blister Beetles. Blister beetles vary in size (often between
0.5-0.75 inch long) and color (such as black, gray or
brown-striped), but most are recognized by their elongated,
narrow, cylindrical, soft bodies with middle body part (thorax)
narrower than the head or wing covers.
Hand picking is certainly an effective
nonchemical method for controlling
these large insects but not without its own dangers. You see, these beetles
contain a substance called cantharidin an
irritant capable of blistering internal and external body
tissues exposed to the chemical. On tender human skin, body
fluids of adult blister beetles may cause large, erect, watery
Chemical control of
blister beetles is also possible. Carbaryl (Sevin) is labeled
and effective but has a three-day waiting period. However, Sevin
can encourage spider mites and so if you have spider mites or
have had them in the past, you may want to consider lambda-cyhalothrin
(Spectracide Triazicide) as it will control both blister beetles
and spider mites. This product has a 5-day waiting period.
Making The Cut...
When your plants fall victim to disease one of the first
courses of action is the removal of the diseased portions.
Careful! The same pruners that you use to cut away diseased
foliage can then transfer the disease to otherwise healthy
plants. It is generally recommended that a one in ten solution
of bleach and water be used to disinfect pruners. Rather than
keep a bucket of solution nearby try mixing the solution in a
small spray bottle. Carry it with you and spray your pruners
after each cut.
Keep your basil, parsley, mint, and sage,
producing by pinching out the seed pods. Herbs can be used
fresh, frozen, or dried. Wait until the dew has dried to cut a
few stems, tie a string around this little bouquet, and hang in
a cool, dry place until completely dry. Crumble and place in a
jar for use during the winter.
Wake Up Sleepy Turf...
If all or parts of your cool season grass have gone dormant
this summer you should prepare for a fall comeback now by
starting a deep watering program. Make sure your lawn gets a
morning soak twice a week and you will be rewarded with stronger,
more lush growth later this fall.
"Today I was plowing faithfully through a horticultural tome
when I came to a chapter which began thus, "If you would
have a really successful garden, it behooves you...."
The hell it does. My garden is one place in the world
where I am not behooved."
~ Julian R. Meade