~ June 2, 2010 ~
A Good Soak...
I really enjoyed the rain we received this morning. We had been out of town for the weekend and after returning home I
noticed that many plants were looking dry. Particularly the four hydrangeas I have in the back yard underneath the canopy
of some very large trees. I need to remind myself that since they are planted with those trees they need to be watered
often due to the tree roots taking in a large quantity of moisture. I really need to purchase some new soaker hoses.
Slow deep watering is really the only way to keep them happy.
We spent the weekend in Colorado with my family. It was my Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary and they wanted us
all to spend time together as a family. It was great! I have not been to Colorado in a few years and I forgot how
majestic the mountains are. We spent some time in Estes Park and then made our way to Grand Lake. The drive was
breathtaking. Up in the higher elevations they still had about 5 to 6 feet of snow. We saw lots of elk, beavers,
deer and even a few skiers
(photos). It was quite an adventure for our sons, Noah and Jake, who have never been to the mountains.
It was a family fun filled weekend. One that I hope my parents will remember for sometime.
Controlling Critters On Your Cukes...
The striped cucumber beetle is a serious threat to cucurbits,
such as squash, cucumber, melon and pumpkin. The larvae will
cause severe damage to roots and beetles can do a real number on
an emerging plant by feeding on the lower surface of its leaves.
These menaces also spread bacterial wilt, cucumber mosaic, and
squash mosaic virus.
Although there are several insecticides that control the cucumber
beetle, only a few chemicals can be used on cucurbit plants
because of their sensitivity to chemical injury. Hand-picking is an
organic approach and should be done in the early morning when most
feeding occurs. These beetles are easy to kill but reinforcements
arriving on the plants make this a very time consuming job.
Insecticides labeled for vegetables containing pyrethrum, rotenone,
methoxychlor, or carbaryl (Sevin) should control the beetles. As always,
follow directions and warnings carefully when using chemicals.
One of the reasons we love daylilies is their fuss-free
nature. Generally they don't need to be divided as often as many
other perennials. However if you want to increase the number of
your favorite cultivars you may want to divide them once in a
while. Savvygardeners should be able to get four new plants from
a healthy, 4-year old daylily. Divide them immediately after
flowering, and replant them right away.
Monitor Those Melons...
Recent and upcoming warmer temperatures are sure to
give watermelons a growth boost. Keep an eye on them! As
vines from different plants begin to intermingle, and the canopy
becomes thicker, the chances of developing anthracnose increase.
It's a good idea to scout watermelon patches once or twice a week
for this disease. Look for multiple small brown to black spots
on leaves. These spots are typically associated with leaf
veins. As the spots coalesce and dry out, the leaf may appear
Crop rotation and the use of resistant cultivars are your best non-chemical
preventive measures against anthracnose. If you want to use chemicals it's a
good idea to implement a preventive fungicide spray schedule, especially during
rainy periods. Available fungicides change yearly so check with your local garden
center and follow the directions carefully.
Give 'Em Room To Breathe...
Just because your plant is wilting don't assume it's due to lack of
water. Plants can wilt from lack of oxygen too! Soil can
become over-compacted and cause root systems to suffocate. The
problem is often made worse by assuming the plant is thirsty and
adding water unnecessarily.
Improving the soil for better air and water circulation is easy.
Simply add peat moss or other loose organic material in and around
the root area of your plants. Everyone will breathe easier!
New Trees From Cuttings...
Now is a good time to start new trees and shrubs from existing ones. Many
ornamental trees and shrubs can be reproduced by taking cuttings from new
growth that occurred this spring. Though these softwood cuttings
root relatively easily, they are susceptible to wilting and need close
attention to watering and relative humidity.
- It is best if cuttings are taken after a rain or several
hours after the plant has been well watered.
- Stems should be mature enough that they snap rather than
bend when placed under pressure.
- Cuttings should be about 6 inches long with cuts made at
an angle just below a node, the area where a leaf joins the stem.
The angle provides a larger cut surface and more area for the
cutting to callus and root.
- Strip off the lower leaves and place the cutting in a moist
rooting media after it has been dipped in rooting powder. Several
rooting mediums are suitable including sand with peat moss, sand
with vermiculite, perlite with peat moss, and perlite with vermiculite.
A suitable medium should provide good moisture-holding capacity
and be open enough to provide good aeration to the roots.
- Relative humidity should be kept at a high level by enclosing
the container or containers in a plastic bag. Use wooden dowels or
a similar object to keep the plastic off the top of the cuttings.
- Place the rooting container in bright, indirect light and check
often for watering needs.
Though some plants can be rooted directly in water, roots formed in water do
not adapt well to soil. When roots are about 1 inch long, cuttings can
be removed from the propagation chamber and potted.
Dividing Ornamental Grass...
If large clumps of ornamental grasses such as maiden grass have
hollow centers, this is a sign they need dividing for best growth.
Large clumps can have massive roots and be quite heavy, so we find
it easier to just divide pieces off the sides rather than to lift
the whole clump. A square-tipped spade works best for this. You
may even need to get such divisions started with a hatchet!
If the appearance of your lawn after mowing is not what you expect there are
a few things worth evaluating.
- Check your mowing height. You should mow as high as possible
for the specific grass type (2½ to 3 inches is a healthy height for
most lawn grasses).
- Consider your mowing frequency. A higher mowed turf will need to be
mowed less frequently and scalp less often than a closely mowed turf.
- Probably most importantly, check the sharpness of your mower blade.
Dull or damaged mower blades do not cut cleanly and leave ragged leaf tips.
These ragged wounds are very stressful to the turf plant, and provide an
excellent opportunity for some disease pathogens to penetrate and infect
"When I take the kitchen middens from the latest canning
session out to the compost before going to bed, the orchestra
is in full chorus. Night vapors and scents from the earth
mingle with the fragrance of honeysuckle nearby and basil
growing in the compost. They merge into the rhythmic
pulse of night."
~ William Longgood