This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Still Time To Divide Iris ~ Garden Plans For You To Enjoy ~ Oh Say Can You Seed?
~ Hard Core Tomatoes ~ Bitter Cucumbers Or Better Cumbers? ~ This Week's Photos
~ Garden Toppers ~ Compost Considerations ~ 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
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This Week's Photos

~ 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.

~ Shelly   

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 mound.
  • Set the plant with fans facing to the outside of the garden to make room for expanded growth.
  • 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.


Garden Toppers...
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, dry weather.
  • Adequate water especially during the fruiting season.
  • Disease and insect control.


Compost Considerations...
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 composting:

  • 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 fall.

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."

~ Lewis Grizzard



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