This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Beat The Heat ~ Trees Shedding Bark ~ Ozone, Mow Zone
~ Hey Bud, Get Outta' Here ~ Timely Tomato Tips ~ This Week's Photos
~ Seen Any Spittlebugs? ~ Beware Brown Patch ~ Inspiration
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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ 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
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ June 24, 2009 ~

Pop-Up Surprise...
I guess I could talk about how hot it has been but that would seem pretty silly. Like you don't know that a heat wave has arrived and may hang on for a few days (or weeks). I am going to talk about the nice surprise we received last night. I watch the weather diligently and last night at 5:30, one of the local meteorologists said that there might be a pop-up shower. We were lucky enough to be on the receiving end of that pop-up. It came kind of from no where. It was a real thunderstorm though, lightning, thunder, wind and rain. Quick but certainly worthwhile. And then when I was readying myself for bed last night I could hear thunder off in the distance and sure enough I got up this morning to evidence of even more rain overnight. I don't know how much but it was nice not having to water all of the pots first thing this morning. How about this morning's cool 70ish-like weather? Kevin and I took advantage of the cooler weather and headed out on our bikes. A gorgeous morning to be out and about. We weren't the only ones. There were many people out enjoying the break. Too bad it was for a few short hours - back to steamy hot for the next few days.

So much going wrong in my gardens this season. The rabbits are really taking a toll on everything. This is the first year it has been this bad. I can't put anything new in the ground without them thinking they're at the local salad bar. It is highly distressing. I keep applying Rabbit Scram, which seems to work for a few days and then I'll be out working and wander upon another plant that has been decimated. Quite frustrating! Our tomatoes are not getting enough sun ...but we keep trying :-) I planted New Guinea impatiens underneath the water fountain (photo) and one side (the side that gets more sun) couldn't look prettier. The other side (shady, not as much sun) is thin and not as pretty. Not what I was hoping for but hey, you do your best! Last year I planted begonias underneath the fountain and they didn't do well at all. So who knows what I'll plant next year? Always a challenge to keep balance in the garden.

~ Shelly   

Beat The Heat...
It's been a rough week for heat and humidity. Gardeners (and everyone for that matter) should be careful when doing anything outdoors in this kind of weather. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:

  • Tasks that occur outdoors in sunny areas should be done in early morning or late afternoon whenever possible, not during the midday heat. Most watering, pruning, dead heading, etc., is better for plants when done in early morning. Many chemicals, especially insecticides, are better applied late in the day when the wind is down and beneficial insects are not present.
  • Allow yourself to acclimate to the heat slowly. Over a period of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time spent in hot, still areas or in direct sun.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, drinking as many liquids as possible. Don't wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, as thirst is an indicator that your body is already dehydrated. Water is preferred, except when heat cramps occur (then drink a lightly salted beverage like a sports drink). The water's temperature should be cool, not cold.
  • Though tempting, do not work in the yard in a tank top or without a shirt due to the potential for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes. Keep the fabric content high in cotton to aid sweat evaporation. Neckbands, headbands, wristbands, visors, and hats can increase evaporation to keep the body cool.
  • Lastly, take frequent breaks to reduce the amount of time spent in the sun or heat. After working for an hour, take a break to cool down and have a drink in the shade to reduce the build up of heat stress on your body.


Hey Bud, Get Outta' Here...
One of the most common pests of petunias is the budworm caterpillar. These small green worms appear in late June and July and feed on the flower buds, making small holes in the buds and the leaves. You won't often see the worm itself. Instead, you'll see the droppings, which resemble small, black seeds. Because of their size, removing them by hand may not be practical. If you are so inclined, Dipel, Thuricide, Talstar and Scimitar are reasonably effective insecticides. Sevin and Diazinon aren't effective, because budworms have become resistant to them. If left unchecked, the presence of the caterpillars will cause your petunias to stop blooming.


Seen Any Spittlebugs?
The spittlebug derives its name from the white, frothy "spittle" the nymphs produce. Adults are large, black leafhoppers about 1/3-inch long with two red stripes that go crosswise across the back. The eyes and abdomen are bright red. Though the nymphs resemble the adults, they are smaller and wingless. Color varies from yellow to white to orange, but the eyes are always red.

Spittlebug nymphs suck plant juices like aphids, but they remove so much water and carbohydrates that excess fluid is produced. They cover themselves with this fluid and then produce the spittle by bubbling air from the tip of the abdomen into the liquid. The spittle mass helps protect the nymphs from drying and from predators.

Spittlebugs normally do not achieve high enough populations to cause damage. If they do, forcefully hosing the plants several times should achieve the level of control needed.


Trees Shedding Bark...
Trees naturally shed bark as they grow. The amount of bark shed varies significantly from one year to the next and is usually not noticeable. But some trees, such as sycamore, London Planetree and silver maple, shed bark in large patches or strips. During a year with heavy shedding homeowners may become concerned that the tree is sick or dying. Such usually is not the case. Sycamore and London Planetree normally show a bright green color on the branches when the bark first falls off but soon return to normal. Maple reveals an orange color after shedding but it, too, soon returns to normal. There is nothing wrong with the tree as long as the shedding bark simply reveals underlying bark rather than bare wood.


Timely Tomato Tips...
Tomatoes are growing vigorously now. However, the end of spring and the onset of hot, dry weather can lead to several problems in tomatoes. Tomatoes that experience early vigorous growth often drop some blossoms during the transition to summer weather. Don't worry. New blooms should develop rapidly to replace the fallen ones.

Also, tomato plants may be subject to leaf curl where the leaves roll up from the edges. This is a short-term condition that develops as the tomato is trying to reduce it's leaf surface to allow the roots to develop.


Beware Brown Patch...
Brown patch is showing up all over the area. This turf disease is favored by warm night temperatures and extended periods of leaf wetness. If you go outside in the morning and the lawn is covered with dew and the temperature is in the high 60s and above, it means that conditions are right for brown patch. During severe outbreaks, the fungus may invade the lower leaf sheaths and crown and kill plants. But in most cases the turfgrass can recover from brown patch. This recovery may take two to three weeks depending on weather.

Unfortunately there is no way to eliminate brown patch from a lawn as it will persist indefinitely in the soil. In almost all cases, the limiting factor for brown patch development is the weather. Although you can’t eliminate the fungus, cultural practices – especially irrigation – can help control it.

  • Don't water in the evening; instead, water early in the morning. This will help decrease the number of hours the leaf tissue remains wet and susceptible to infection. The frequency of irrigation is not as important as the time of day you do it.
  • Don't overfertilize, and certainly don't fertilize when brown patch is active.
  • Make sure your seeding or overseeding rates are not too high.


Ozone, Mow Zone...
Small gasoline engines like those found on lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers lack pollution controls. According to the Mid-America Regional Council the average lawnmower produces as much pollution in one hour as forty late-model cars! Do yourself, and your fellow gardeners, a favor by not mowing on ozone alert days. If you have to mow, try to do it after 7 PM.

""Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct.... Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.""

~ Barbara Kingsolver, From High Tide In Tucson



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