This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Invigorating Irises ~ When To Pick A Pepper ~ Shady Characters
~ Trees Shedding Bark ~ Fall Crops Begin Now ~ This Week's Photos
~ When Is A Tomato Ripe? ~ Dormez Vous Fescue? ~ 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

~ July 8, 2009 ~

Up On The Roof...
It looks like cooler mornings and milder days may be a thing of the past. The temperature today is 88° with a heat index of 92°. The temperatures for the next 10 days look pretty steamy with a chance of occasional rainfall. I can certainly feel a rise in the humidity. It is July and we are in Kansas so it really is just a matter of time. I remain fairly happy as long as we don't have any more of those weeks where the temperatures are in the high 90's with the heat index well into the 100's. Wasn't that just plain awful?

Speaking of weather, we just returned from a fast and furious 4th of July weekend in New York City. The weather there was perfect. The temperatures were in the high 70's during the day and cool 60's at night. It was fantastic! We did lots of sight seeing and had the opportunity to watch the Macy's 4th of July fireworks on the Hudson river. What an unbelievable night! We also toured the city by bus and noticed all of the rooftop gardens. We visited the Top of Rockefeller Center and had quite a view. I keep thinking that maybe some day Kevin and I can move there and have a rooftop garden of our own. Wouldn't that be fun? What a great challenge to create a rooftop full of living things. Certainly something I would love to try.

~ Shelly   

Invigorating Irises...
To promote growth, vigor and optimum flowering, iris clumps may be raised and divided every three years or so. Dig up the rhizomes carefully to avoid damage to rhizomes and their roots. Examine them for the presence of worm-like insects called iris borers, which may seriously damage or destroy the plant. If they are found, remove them, cut out the affected tissue and dust with a garden insecticide, such as Sevin, before replanting. Select sound rhizomes with two or more growing points. Rhizomes may be cut apart with a sharp knife, or snapped apart by hand. Be sure to preserve as many rhizome roots as possible. The best time to divide iris is in mid-summer while the plants are dormant. Late July through mid August is preferred.

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.


When Is A Tomato Ripe?
Early July starts tomato ripening time in Kansas City. We’ve all heard of ‘vine ripe’ flavor but does a tomato have to remain on the vine until it is completely ripe? The answer is no. When a tomato reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins the ripening process which is regulated by an internal gas produced within the fruit called ethylene. After the tomato reaches a stage when it's about ˝ green and ˝ pink (called the ‘breaker stage’), a layer of cells forms across the stem of the tomato- sealing it from the main vine. At this point there is nothing moving from the plant into the fruit. At this stage the tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of flavor, quality or nutrition.

Red pigments in tomatoes don’t form above 95°F so tomatoes ripened in extreme heat will have a orange-red color. Tomatoes held at cooler temperatures will ripen slower. You can speed up or slow down the ripening process by raising the temperature (to an optimum of 85°F) or lowering the temperature (to a minimum of 50°F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor, nutrition, and color when the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this doesn’t have to occur on the plant!


When To Pick A Pepper...
Depending on what variety of bell pepper you are growing and what color you want it to be you have different guidelines to follow for the timing of your harvest. Green bell varieties are usually picked when they are fully grown and mature - 3 to 4 inches long, firm and green. Colored bell peppers start out green but should be left on the plant until they develop full flavor and ripen fully to red, yellow, orange or brown.

Fall Crops Begin Now...
A fall harvest of cabbage, vine crops, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts means setting transplants in late July.  For lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale, and spinach, you should sow seeds in late July to early August.

Brussels sprouts are especially good fall crops as their flavor is enhanced by a mild frost.  They are hungry little guys so make monthly applications of 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of ˝ cup per square yard from the time the plants are 4 inches tall through harvest.

Dormez Vous Fescue?...
We've had a number of Savvygardeners ask about letting lawns go dormant during summer. This time of year many cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and perennial rye will naturally go dormant and turn brown due to lack of water or too much heat. Remember, the lawn is not dead - it's only dormant and will green up again when the weather is more favorable in the fall. Mow it regularly to about three inches and water during extended dry periods.

Now, we've been around long enough to know that most of you can't stand the idea of brown grass all summer. If you wish to keep the lawn green you will need to follow a regular watering routine before the lawn begins to brown. Once the lawn goes dormant watering will not generally green it up until fall. You will need about 1 inch of rain or irrigation per week. It is better to give the lawn a good soaking (to a 6 inch depth) once a week than frequent light watering. Always water early in the day to reduce disease occurrence.

Shady Characters...
Looking for a good, low exertion chore for the hot weather? Try inspecting your shade trees and the grass below them. They may be getting so full of branches that not enough sunlight filters through to your grass. If your grass is just not making it under a particular tree you can stand in its shade and make some notes for future pruning. You'd be surprised how well grass will respond to even a moderate amount of increased sunlight.

"I don't know when tree houses for adults went out of fashion - and still less why. I myself would rather have an arboreal retreat than a swimming pool any day."

~ Eleanor Perenyi



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