~ July 29, 2009 ~
Gotta' Get Movin'...
It is that time of year. It is almost August 1st and I am tired of looking at the annuals
that have been in the ground, pots, and baskets since May. Everything is still in pretty
good shape. My potted petunias are leggy but for the most part I would have to say I
certainly got my money's worth. Time to shake things up a bit. I will probably start
planting asters and mums the first week of September. I know that seems a bit early but by
then I will be sick and tired of looking at my begonias and will replace them with some
colorful, fresh looking pansies. The hardiest pansies will last through November depending
on the weather and sometimes over winter. Even though the calendar still says summer I will
be planting for fall. It is the way I do it. Creating something different gives me a renewed
sense of being. It is great for recharging the gardening spirit.
I am going to try and tackle some heavy duty planting this fall. Time for a new project.
I have a real shady spot that needs planted and a part sun - part shade area that needs to
be filled with plants as well. Design doesn't come easy to me and I have been pondering
(since we moved into this house three years ago) what to do in these areas. I am more
likely to walk around my favorite nursery for hours looking at shrubs, trees and perennials.
I am easily sidetracked and Kevin has said that, "This fall is going to be the time we plant
those gardens". So... I'd better get this creative mind a movin' and develop a
plan fast or Kevin will be throwing plants haphazardly into the ground. Not
exactly a bad idea but it is not my favorite approach. :-)
Stink Bugs On Tomatoes...
When tomatoes on the vine develop white, pink or yellow-gold
spots, the likely cause is stinkbugs. Stinkbugs are the skunks of the insect
world. "Like skunks, these shield-shaped insects emit a foul odor
when disturbed", said Ward Upham, who coordinates K-State Research
and Extension's Master Gardener program. "A stinkbug injures
fruit when it uses its mouthparts to probe for food. That not
only affects the tomato's color development but also causes a
whitish ‘callous' to develop under the skin at the wound site."
Upham said. Typically, the exterior result is an off-color,
cloudy spot. If stinkbugs are feeding heavily, however, the
entire tomato may develop a gold hue, with pinprick-size puncture
wounds in the middle of each of the overlapping spots, he said.
"Unfortunately, stinkbug control is basically impossible. By the
time you notice the spots, the stinkbugs usually are gone," Upham
added. "Fortunately, though, the affected tomatoes are safe to
Garlic is a cook's best friend. Home-grown garlic is
an extra special treat. Making sure your garlic is harvested
correctly is simple but important:
Garlic should be harvested when the foliage begins to dry. Using a
garden fork or shovel, carefully dig the bulbs with the foliage
still attached. Dry the garlic on an elevated wire screen or
slotted tray in a warm, well-ventilated location for 3 to 4
weeks. When properly cured, cut off the dry foliage ˝ to
1 inch above the bulbs, trim off the roots and brush off any
loose soil. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool
(32 to 40°F), dry (60 to 70% relative humidity) location.
Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for 6 to 7 months.
Time To Divide Iris...
There's some very rewarding summer work to be done right now.
It's time to divide your irises. After 3 to 5 years of growth
irises will become crowded and should be divided so they don't
starve each other for soil nutrients. Here's a few simple steps
to get the job done:
- Cut the leaves
back to one-third their length.
- Dig the rhizome
clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
- Cut the rhizomes
apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of
leaves and firm, white roots.
- Discard soft
rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of
- Plant the
divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny
- Water immediately
and again in ten days if rain is scarce.
Following these steps now allows adequate time for the divisions to get
established before winter and also reduces the chance of frost
heaving in late winter.
Preventing Pesticide Problems...
During summertime it is especially important to take care when applying pesticides.
If rain has been scarce, make sure you take the time to water your plants several
hours before applying pesticides. You see, drought-stressed plants have less
water in their plant tissues and the chemicals that enter the leaves will consequently
be more concentrated. This in turn can lead to an unwanted burn-like condition on the
A Perfect Pear...
Unlike some crops, pears are usually best when ripened off the tree. You
don't want to wait for the fruit to turn yellowish before picking. Instead,
harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from dark green to lighter
green and when it is easily twisted and removed from the spur.
Support Your Fruits...
When fruit on fruit trees starts getting
bigger the stress on tree limbs can be substantial. So much so
that your trees may need some extra support to prevent limbs from
breaking. Here are some support suggestions from K-State
- Wooden Props
- Use one-inch thick boards to prop up limbs. Cut a ‘V’ on the
top edge of the board on which the limb will rest so that it
doesn’t slip off. Long, heavy limbs may need a prop in the
center and another near the outer part of the limb.
- Belt Webbing
- A 2-inch, plastic, belt-like material can be tied to a
heavily loaded limb, then to a large diameter limb above for
support. Where a large limb is used for support, it is good to
have it supporting limbs on opposite sides so the weight is
- Taping -
Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around
the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they
break. Heavy twine may be used, but it should be removed when
the fruit is picked or soon after so it does not cut into the
bark on the limb.
Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty...
Have you discovered an orange dust clinging to your shoes after walking
through the lawn? You're not alone. Rust diseases attack all turfgrasses,
but are most often found on susceptible Bluegrass, tall fescue ryegrass
and Zoysia in late August and early September. Unlike some other turf fungi,
this particular fungus (Puccinia), can do serious damage resulting in thinning
and winterkill. The best protection is healthy turf management, including
proper levels of fertilizer, watering, and mowing at the recommended height
(normally 3 inches at this time of the year).
As always (this time of year) avoid evening and nighttime watering.
"Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors."
~ Mary Cantwell