~ July 22, 2009 ~
Weird... it is July 22nd and the temperature is around 80°. I am not complaining but you would
have to admit that the weather this summer has been different from summer's past. It is hard
to believe that a month ago we were experiencing temperatures in the high 90's with the heat
index screaming past 100°. Have we been displaced? All I can say is that if the remainder of
our summer continues the way it has gone this month, I will be more than pleased. Change is good!
It has been a lot like Wild Kingdom around our neighborhood this week. I was driving home the
other day from dropping one of the kids from only God knows where and out of the corner of my eye
I see a large deer running through my neighbors yard. You can only imagine my reaction. I stopped
the car, blinked a couple of times and when I decided that it was real I automatically started to
think about how to help this poor creature. Of course this happened in a matter of seconds and once
I got my wits about me the deer was long gone. I called City Hall to give someone a heads up and
they had already received a few calls. I really felt sorry for the poor thing. A sheer look of
fright was on its face. I only hope it didn't get hurt and that someone rescued it and put it back
where it belongs, whereever that might be. Foxes, geese, rabbits, a few toads and now a deer.
We must be living "Where the Wild Things Are".
A bitter taste in cucumbers is the result of stress that can
be caused by a number of factors, including heredity, moisture,
temperature, soil characteristics and disease. Most often this
occurs during the hot part of the summer or later in the growing
Two compounds, cucurbitacins B and C, give rise to the bitter taste.
Though often only the stem end is affected, at times the entire
fruit is bitter. Also, most of the bitter taste is found in and
just under the skin. Bitter fruit is not the result of cucumbers
cross-pollinating with squash or melons. These plants cannot
cross-pollinate with one another.
Often newer varieties are less likely to become bitter than older ones.
Proper cultural care is also often helpful. Make sure your plants
have the following:
- Well-drained soil
with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.
- Plenty of organic
matter also helps.
- Mulch helps
conserve moisture and keep roots cool during hot, dry weather.
- Adequate water
especially during the fruiting season.
- Disease and
If your basil and thyme look like they need an extreme makeover you
can revitalize them by cutting them back severely. This will stimulate
a clean new flush of growth, free of any insect and disease damage
incurred since spring.
Thump Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers may have some pretty big fruit by
now. You don't want to harvest your melons too early! Just
check for these tell-tale indicators of ripeness:
- The underside
ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow.
- The tendril
closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels.
- The rind loses
its gloss and appears dull.
- The melon
produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
The Cutting Gardener...
When gardens are blooming the way they
have been lately it's a shame not to spread the beauty around.
How? By bringing some of it inside! Before you try it yourself
there are some procedures to follow if you really want to do it right:
- Start when flower
stems are full of water - either early morning (6 to 8 AM) or
late evening (7 to 9 PM).
- Carry a clean
bucket filled with very warm (100 to 120º F) water.
- Always use sharp,
very clean scissors or pruners when cutting.
- Immediately place
any cut flowers in the bucket of warm water.
- When you bring
the flowers in, re-cut each flower under water. This pulls
water into the stems more quickly. Flowers that are not re-cut
immediately after picking can lose up to 60% of their
- Place the bucket
of re-cut flowers in a cool area, such as the basement and
allow them to hydrate or harden for at least one hour (although
overnight is best).
- Arrange, display,
Deadheading petunias is a sure-fire way to keep them blooming all summer long.
But sometimes gardeners have trouble knowing which ones stay and which ones go.
Spent blossoms often look very much like unopened petunia buds. If you're unsure
just remember that spent petunia blossoms are shrunken and have little substance
to them and come off with a gentle tug. Immature buds feel full and hang on a little
Bulbs That Bloom In Autumn...
The savviest of Savvygardeners know that there are a number
of autumn-blooming bulbs that really perk up the fall garden and
landscape. Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) also known as
meadow saffron, mysteria, or naked boys produces pink to lavender
crocus-like flowers in the fall and there is no foliage present
when the plants are in bloom. Dark green leaves will emerge in
the spring, remain until summer, then turn yellow and die to the
ground. After which, the flowers magically appear in the fall
Colchicums should be planted immediately after purchase or delivery in
August or September or they will start to bloom in their
packaging. Plant the corms in clumps, 2-3 inches deep in
well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Pretty!
Too Tall Turf?
If you've been away on vacation and your
lawn is extra tall be careful about cutting too much at once. As
a rule you should cut no more than one-third of the grass height
at a time. If necessary, try setting your mower height to the
highest setting for a first cutting. Then wait two-three days
and cut again at a reduced height.
"Birds by day and skunk by night search for juicy grubs
under damp mulch covering the potatoes. They hurl the
thatch aside, unearthing the biggest and best spuds, it
green, toxic and fit only for compost. It is nip and tuck
whether the sun or I will get to them first. Robins are
especially vigorous in searching our the grubs. The garden
feeds a large and varied clientele."
~ William Longgood