~ August 12, 2009 ~
Warmth & Goodness...
This week's quote is so true. There is nothing in the world that tastes better than a homegrown tomato!
When I was younger my grandfather would take me out into his garden and he would start picking them off
the vine and we would proceed to eat them right there in the garden. No washing, just a little
polishing with his shirt tail. We would then finish picking and once we returned my grandmother would say,
"Is that all?" My grandfather would chuckle and say, "Yep, and those we already ate." What is it about
the taste of a homegrown tomato? Is it the texture? Is it the color or the taste? Yes to all of those.
I love the flesh of a home grown tomato. Fleshy, not too chewy. The color, red, which happens to be my
favorite color. And then there's the taste. It is like eating a slice of sunshine. For you tomato lovers
out there you know exactly what I am talking about. You bite into the tomato and your mouth is filled with
this overwhelming sense of warmth and goodness. It makes my mouth water just writing about it. Tomatoes
are one of the many pleasures of summer. I wish I could grow my own.
Nothing new on the weather front. It is August and it is pretty hot! It looks like we dodged the bullet Monday
night as there was a flurry of storms that went south of us. Could have used some more rain. School starts next
week and that is when the temperatures usually sky rocket. Let's just hope that the weather stays in the mid to
upper 80's. I am fine with that for now.
Still Time To Divide Iris...
Late summer is ideal for dividing, moving and planting iris. The old foliage
wilting from the summer’s heat can be trimmed back at least halfway. Trimming
also helps when dividing iris to prevent moisture loss while the plants get
established. Follow these simple steps to divide your iris plants:
- Dig Iris with a potato fork, being careful not to damage the rhizome.
- With a sterile knife, cut the rhizome vertically. Each division should be
approximately 2 inches long with 2-3 fans.
- Dig a shallow hole mounded in the middle and spread the roots around the
- Set the plant with fans facing to the outside of the garden to make room for
- Fill the hole with soil, being careful to leave rhizomes partially exposed,
and water well.
- Water the newly planted iris regularly if the weather is hot and dry being
careful to avoid overwatering.
Hard Core Tomatoes...
During stressful weather (and usually aggravated by excessive
fertilization) the central core of a tomato may become tough
and turn greenish white. The walls also may become pale and
corky. This is usually a temporary condition known as “hard
core.” Fruit that develops later is often free of this condition.
Older varieties of tomatoes normally have five distinct cavities
that are filled with seeds and jelly-like material called
locular jelly. However, many newer tomato varieties possess
genetic traits to make the fruit meatier and firmer with the
seeds being produced all over the inside of the fruit rather
than in the five distinct cavities. These types of tomatoes do
not seem to produce a hard central core nearly as readily as
ones that are not as meaty.
The older variety, Jet Star, which has been widely grown for
many years by Kansas gardeners, has a tendency to produce a hard
core when stressed. Newer varieties such as Mountain Spring,
Mountain Fresh, Daybreak, Sun Leaper, Sunmaster, Celebrity,
Carnival, and other ‘semi-determinate' varieties are less likely
to suffer from this condition.
If you have a vegetable or annual garden that is normally empty
in the fall and through winter you should consider planting a
green manure crop there at the end of this growing season.
The name green manure is given to any crop which is grown only to
be tilled back into the soil. As it rots, the nutrients in the
crop foliage and roots will be taken up by the next crop planted
in the same place. Green manures from the legume family, such as
peas, beans, and clovers, have an added bonus - nitrogen-fixing
bacteria living around their roots can draw nitrogen from the air
and convert it to a form the plant can absorb. This nitrogen
will then be available to subsequent crops.
Green manures also act as "cover crops" protecting the soil from
compaction and erosion caused by wind and rain, as
well as reducing the extent that weeds take over bare soil.
Garden Plans For You To Enjoy...
If you have big landscaping plans for this fall it's time to start
making decisions on which plants you will purchase and where they
will be placed. As you do your shopping try to imagine how long
you will live in your current home. The average American family
moves every five years. If you think you might move within five
years consider buying the biggest plants you can afford. If you
buy small you won't be around to fully appreciate your garden
when it matures.
Bitter Cucumbers Or Better Cumbers?
Wondering why your cucumbers are bitter? Well, the
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 season. Sometimes these happen at the same time.
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 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. A mulch helps conserve moisture and keep roots cool during hot,
- Adequate water especially during the fruiting season.
- Disease and insect control.
We get a lot of e-mail about compost piles. There's always a question or two
about what should not be composted. Here are a few don'ts when it comes to back yard
- Weeds- Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when
the compost is used.
- Pet Waste - While many animal manures make valuable soil
amendments, parasites carried in dog and cat feces can cause
diseases in humans.
- Meat, Fish, Bones - These items will develop an awful odor, attracting
rats and other unwanted critters.
Oh Say Can You Seed?
Yes you can! The best time to start new
cool-season grass seed is late summer/early fall. As long as it
doesn't get crazy hot in the next 7-10 days you'll be able to
get started. Seeding this time of year takes
advantage of warm weather for proper seed germination while
allowing the new turf to thrive as the temperatures cool into
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
~ Lewis Grizzard