~ June 24, 2009 ~
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.
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
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
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