~ June 30, 2010 ~
Away From Home...
I have left Kevin home to tend to the gardens this week. My mom had open heart surgery on Monday and I
am in Wichita staying with her and my father during her recovery period. I'm lucky to have a great gardening
partner. Kevin knows when to water, how much, etc... so I feel as there are no worries about losing any plants
while I'm away. The weather in Wichita has been pleasant. Monday was dry and in the mid 80's - it felt
like a perfect June day. Tuesday the humidity was back and today is much of the same. The temperatures
are holding steady in the high 80's but the humidity has increased making the heat index feel much warmer and
stickier than I would prefer. I guess we all need to acclimate ourselves to the humidity. July is upon us
and August to follow, months known for hot days and high humidity.
July arrives tomorrow and it looks as if we will have great picnic weather for the holiday weekend. There seems
to be a chance of rain in the next few days but hopefully we will get through the holiday weekend without getting wet.
I look forward to coming home soon if all is well with my mom. It is hard to be away from my own family for too long.
I am lucky to have great kids and a wonderful husband and I really miss them.
Timing Is Everything...
Some of us are morning people, others need more time to get going every
day. The same is true for garden vegetables! The time of day you pick your
vegetables can actually have a dramatic effect on their taste and texture.
For instance, your lettuce and cucumbers will be crispier if picked early -
before the hot sun has had a chance to wilt your crop. On the other hand
corn and peas will be sweeter if you wait until later in the day when
their sugar levels are highest. Yum!
Lawns Becoming Forests?
Based on the number of e-mails we are receiving it's safe to say that many area lawns are
starting to look like small forests
(photo). Conditions have been very favorable for the germination of
saplings (baby trees) and there is a profusion of them across the metro. Left alone for a decade
or so they will indeed turn a lawn into a wooded lot. Luckily, simply following a normal mowing
routine will prevent these upstarts from becoming mighty oaks (or maples, or whatever). The ones in your
garden are a bit more challenging. You're going to have to treat them like weeds a remove them individually. Sorry.
Shake It Up...
Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they need movement to
transfer pollen. If it is hot and calm for several days you may
need to gently shake your plants to assure that pollen is
properly transferred. Very hot temperatures can also interfere
with blossom set. One solution is to mist the plants
periodically throughout the day. Careful here! Wet leaves can
promote other diseases. If you choose to mist do it during the
day when plants will have adequate time to dry out before nightfall.
Nurturing Natures Night Lights...
Some things just mean summer to me. Fireflies (lightning bugs to some
of you) fit that category nicely. My kids could spend hours catching
these magical creatures and putting them in a jar or cage. Before
calling it a night however, I make sure they let the fireflies escape.
Anglers call it catch and release. We call it good gardening.
You see, the larvae of fireflies dine on cutworms, mites, slugs,
snails, soft-bodied insects and the larvae of other insects. They
apparently have voracious appetites and quietly do wonders keeping
pests at bay.
The exact time to harvest blackberries varies by cultivar,
and thorny blackberries normally ripen earlier than thornless
types. But there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when
- Do not pick blackberries too early or berry size and
flavor will be sacrificed.
- Blackberries usually develop a dull, black color with plump,
juicy fruitlets as they ripen. The berries soften and produce
the characteristic flavor.
- Full color often develops before the berries separate easily.
berries by gently lifting the berry with the thumb and fingers.
The receptacle, or center part of the fruit, remains in the fruit
when blackberries are harvested, unlike raspberries, which leave
the receptacle on the bush. Take care not to crush the berries or
expose them to the hot sun. When possible, avoid picking berries
when they are wet. They'll probably need picking every second or
third day. Cool the berries immediately after harvest to extend
shelf life. Keep them refrigerated under high relative humidity
and use within three to five days.
Too Hot To Handle...
When the weather gets really oppressive (like last week and surely
in weeks to come) it's all too easy to want to stay inside and neglect
the garden. Try to do your watering early in the morning, take the
afternoon off, and do your weeding, dead-heading, etc... in the evening.
Remember, in high heat watering must be thorough and deep. If
you can't water adequately during hot, dry weather you are
actually better off doing nothing at all and I mean nothing.
Plants under severe summer stress compensate by becoming
inactive. Pruning, fertilizing, spraying or otherwise
encouraging growth can do more harm than good if water is
Battling Brown Patch (continued)...
You will recognize brown patch in your lawn by thinning of the turf in clustered,
roughly circular patches. The patches will expand as the problem gets worse.
This is a disease that remains in the soil, so you're not going to get rid
of it completely. All you can do is prevent it through smart
horticultural practices and treat it when necessary with
appropriately labeled fungicides. Smart practices include:
- Avoiding heavy,
early spring and summer fertilization, particularly with
- Watering in the
early morning. Late afternoon and evening watering should be
- Remove and
dispose of clippings from infected areas or when conditions are
conducive to disease development. (Mulching mowers that chop
inch or less do not contribute to brown patch development.)
"In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day.
No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them."
~ Aldo Leopold