~ August 26, 2009 ~
Everyone's All American...
As I sit here at my desk, contemplating what to write, it is lightly raining. The bright lightning and loud thunder is
gone for now along with the many buckets of rain falling from the sky. Whatever happened to slow, soaking rains? It
seems as if the rains these days come fast and furious. One to two inches of rain in a hour is hardly what I call a
rain. Hard rains lead to run-off and in the end give us relief for only a short time. I equate hard rains to watering
with a hand nozzle and spraying your plants from above for a short time. The plants are happy for the moment but hours
later are thirsty again. Always think slow, deep watering. It really is the best type of watering for all plants. It
looks as if I need to have this conversation with Mother Nature.
The 2010 All-America Selections have been chosen. I am always delighted when I receive the packet of information announcing
the 2010 winners. It is always so much fun to see what is new or how they have perfected different varieties so they are
hardier in different zones. The big winners this year are; Viola, "Endurio Sky Blue Martein" for cool season planting.
"Twinny Peach", a double flowered snapdragon, was chosen for the best Bedding Plant Award along with "Zahara Starlight
Rose", a zinnia that is disease resistant with a rose and white bicolor. And the big Flower Award Winner goes to "Mesa
Yellow", Gaillardia (better known as blanket flower). It has 3-inch daisy-like yellow flowers which continue to bloom
throughout the summer. Good for cutting and butterfly gardens. A compact plant which can be used for smaller spaced
gardens. For more information on the above, visit
Longer shadows and shorter days a sure sign that
is gradually coming to an end. Make sure you don't miss
out on any tomatoes by employing a couple of tricks to
get the most out of your tomato plants.
- By removing some of the leaves, more sunlight will be
allowed to reach your tomatoes. The shady protection they
provide is not needed as much now that fall is closing in.
- Lopping the tops off the plants will help ensure that the plants'
energy will go into finishing existing fruit production rather than
the now hopeless task of producing new fruit.
These tricks (and a little luck) will help keep those tomato plants
producing as long as possible.
There's still time to seed some fall salad crops for this season. With
milder weather and rainfall (hopefully) around the corner some fall-season
vegetables can still be seeded now with a decent chance of developing
before freezing weather stops their progress. To increase your odds, try
lettuce, radishes, and spinach. These salad crops grow rapidly and can
withstand a light freeze. A hard early freeze could stop everything in its
tracks but it's certainly worth the risk for fresh salad greens.
The Great Divide...
Savvygardeners who took good care of their perennials this summer might notice
them bursting from their beds. Sound familiar? If so, they need some relief.
Once they are done blooming for the year it's time to divide them.
You'll know your plants need to be divided if:
- They are spreading beyond your desired range for them.
- The flowers are not producing as well as in the past.
- The center of the clump of flowers is dying.
- The lower areas of foliage are sickly.
For a quick but effective description of the dividing process you can read
"Spring Blooming Perennials" in our
Packing Up The Peonies...
Peonies aren't particularly fond of being uprooted and transplanted but from time
to time it may become necessary. Maybe their plot has become too shady or another
project is displacing them. Here are a few simple steps to get it done right:
- Cut the stems to near ground level this month.
- Carefully dig up as much of the root system as possible.
- Replant the peony in a hole large enough for the roots.
- Make sure the buds are one to two inches below the soil surface.
- Toss in some bone meal and firm the soil around the plant.
- Water thoroughly.
Keep in mind - transplanted peonies often refuse to bloom the first spring after transplant.
Your patience however should be rewarded in subsequent years.
Root pruning is a practice sometimes
used in late fall to restore blooming on older Wisteria plants. It serves to check top growth and
favor flower production and must be combined with summer pruning to be effective. Use a spade to
cut vertically into the soil (about 18 inches deep) and about four feet from the main trunk, all
around the vine.
Dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf weeds that were a problem this spring and summer should
be controlled this fall. The period from late September to mid-November is the ideal time to control
broadleaf weeds in turfgrass because broadleaf weeds are most susceptible to herbicides at this time.
(We recognize that the best and safest controls are cultural. i.e. keep your turf healthy. However
we also know that many of our readers will use herbicides. Using them effectively is certainly better
than using too much at the wrong times of year.) The turf and weeds must be actively growing for this to
be effective so be sure your lawn is well-watered before applying. Apply on a sunny day with moderate
temperatures, no wind, ample soil moisture and no rain in the 24-hour forecast. An herbicide containing
two or more active ingredients including 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, triclopyr, or clopyralid will control most
broadleaf weeds with one application. As always, be careful when using broadleaf herbicides as they may
damage the stuff you want to keep - like flowers, trees, shrubs, or vegetables.
Late Season Grubs...
If your lawn has large dead patches, check to be sure that the damage has not been caused by grubs. This is
easily done by pulling up handfuls of dead turf. If the turf comes up like a carpet, then you have grubs.
Chemical treatments this late in the season are best done with trichlorfon (Dylox, Bayer 24-hr Grub Control).
It is important that this product be watered in immediately after application. Waiting as little as 24 hours
can reduce effectiveness to the point that grubs are not controlled. Apply 1/4 inch of water to insure the
insecticide reaches the grubs.
A non-chemical alternative may be beneficial nematodes. There are a number of commercially available
products that claim effectiveness against white grubs (the ones that work against
Japanese Beetle grubs
are of little use in the Kansas City area).
"Gardening shouldn't be a grim business.
If you've forgotten that, it's time you
learned a lesson from your children."
~ Richard Nichols