This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Savvygardener.com Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
 
In This Issue
~ Heirloom Tomato Seeds ~ Blister Beetles On Tomatoes ~ Herb Helpers
~ Colorful Closers ~ Making The Cut ~ Wake-Up Sleepy Turf
~ Tater Tidbits ~ ~ Inspiration
 
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This Week's Photos

~ 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.

~ Shelly   

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.

Save the seeds 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.

Source

Colorful Closers...
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. 

When 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!

Tater Tidbits...
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 blisters. Ouch!

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.

Herb Helpers...
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.

Finally...
"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

 

 


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