~ July 1, 2009 ~
Overly Leggy and Dropping Acorns...
What state are we living in? Cool mornings, mid-day temperatures in the upper 80's,
low humidity and cool evenings. It sure does feel a lot like California weather.
What a nice change compared to last week. I sure hope it lasts a while longer. It
has been so great to be outside without feeling as if you were going to melt.
Unfortunately last week's weather has done some damage to the turf. I have noticed
that brown patch is prevalent around town, our yard included
(photo). High heat and high
humidity are a lethal combination for many things that are at the peak of their growing
season. Our tomatoes seem to be caught in a stagnant stage with not many blossoms setting
on. My wave petunias are getting that overly leggy look and my potato vine is being
enjoyed by some kind of pest that I still have yet to identify. The cooler weather will
help revive things and if we get some rain tomorrow like they say we might there is a
chance that things could bounce back. That's what I am hoping for!
So what's with the early acorn drop? Is anyone else experiencing this? I have quite a
few small acorns falling from our oak daily. This is a first for me as I have never seen
this so early in the summer. I did some research on acorn drop and what I found was that
acorns can drop at different times of the year depending on temperatures and amount of
rainfall received. Leaves on the lawn are bad enough - throw acorns into the mix and I
am likely to go crazy!
Timing Is Everything...
Some of us are morning people, others need more time to get going every
day. The same is true for garden vegetables! The time of day you pick your
vegetables can actually have a dramatic effect on their taste and texture.
For instance, your lettuce and cucumbers will be crispier if picked early -
before the hot sun has had a chance to wilt your crop. On the other hand
corn and peas will be sweeter if you wait until later in the day when
their sugar levels are highest. Yum!
Tomatoes On Potatoes?
Under favorable weather conditions, potatoes produce fruit. These
structures are borne on the top of the plant and look much like
small tomatoes. (Tomatoes and potatoes are closely related).
Potato fruits are not edible. They contain a toxic substance (solanine)
that can cause illness if eaten. Also, potato fruits should not
be saved for seed because progeny does not come true. Rather,
remove and dispose of fruit so that they are not eaten by
Shake It Up...
Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they need movement to
transfer pollen. If it is hot and calm for several days you may
need to gently shake your plants to assure that pollen is
properly transferred. Very hot temperatures can also interfere
with blossom set. One solution is to mist the plants
periodically throughout the day. Careful here! Wet leaves can
promote other diseases. If you choose to mist do it during the
day when plants will have adequate time to dry out before nightfall.
Nurturing Natures Night Lights...
Some things just mean summer to me. Fireflies (lightning bugs to some
of you) fit that category nicely. My kids could spend hours catching
these magical creatures and putting them in a jar or cage. Before
calling it a night however, I make sure they let the fireflies escape.
Anglers call it catch and release. We call it good gardening.
You see, the larvae of fireflies dine on cutworms, mites, slugs,
snails, soft-bodied insects and the larvae of other insects. They
apparently have voracious appetites and quietly do wonders keeping
pests at bay.
The exact time to harvest blackberries varies by cultivar,
and thorny blackberries normally ripen earlier than thornless
types. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when
- Do not pick blackberries too early or berry size and
flavor will be sacrificed.
- Blackberries usually develop a dull, black color with plump,
juicy fruitlets as they ripen. The berries soften and produce
the characteristic flavor.
- Full color often develops before the berries separate easily.
berries by gently lifting the berry with the thumb and fingers.
The receptacle, or center part of the fruit, remains in the fruit
when blackberries are harvested, unlike raspberries, which leave
the receptacle on the bush. Take care not to crush the berries or
expose them to the hot sun. When possible, avoid picking berries
when they are wet. They'll probably need picking every second or
third day. Cool the berries immediately after harvest to extend
shelf life. Keep them refrigerated under high relative humidity
and use within three to five days.
Too Hot To Handle...
When the weather gets really oppressive (like last week and surely
in weeks to come) it's all too easy to want to stay inside and neglect
the garden. Try to do your watering early in the morning, take the
afternoon off, and do your weeding, dead-heading, etc... in the evening.
Remember, in high heat watering must be thorough and deep. If
you can't water adequately during hot, dry weather you are
actually better off doing nothing at all and I mean nothing.
Plants under severe summer stress compensate by becoming
inactive. Pruning, fertilizing, spraying or otherwise
encouraging growth can do more harm than good if water is
Battling Brown Patch (continued)...
You will recognize brown patch in your lawn by thinning of the turf in clustered,
roughly circular patches. The patches will expand as the problem gets worse.
This is a disease that remains in the soil, so you're not going to get rid
of it completely. All you can do is prevent it through smart
horticultural practices and treat it when necessary with
appropriately labeled fungicides. Smart practices include:
- Avoiding heavy,
early spring and summer fertilization, particularly with
- Watering in the
early morning. Late afternoon and evening watering should be
- Remove and
dispose of clippings from infected areas or when conditions are
conducive to disease development. (Mulching mowers that chop
inch or less do not contribute to brown patch development.)
"It may be argued further that real beauty is neither in garden nor landscape, but in the relation of both to the individual, that what we are seeing is not only a scenic setting
for pool and fountain and parterre, but a background for
~ Sir George Sitwell