~ July 7, 2010 ~
Weeding In The Rain...
I remember as a child singing the words to this song, "Rain, rain, go away come again another day". Well if I could
make a few changes to this song it would sound something like this, "Rain, rain, go away, but please come water my
gardens twice a week". It's not as catchy as the original but hey, I'm a gardener not a songwriter. Lately the
rain seems to come in three or more consecutive days. We either get 3-5 inches in a short period of time or we go for
days without anything. All I can say is that after these last three days I'm starting to get a little stir crazy.
All of this rainy weather is good for something - pulling weeds. Sunday, I was on my hands and knees most of the day
pulling the tiny oaks out of our yard. I know it sounds silly but I for one do not like the look of all of those little
saplings growing out of the lawn. We don't have many because in the fall I am the acorn warden at this house. Everyone
is required to help pick-up the millions that fall. It is an arduous job, one that hardly anyone in the family enjoys
(but me) but we (I) do it so that I don't have all of those little saplings making a mess of the lawn this time of
year. Sure we miss some, hence the having to pull the little boogers out of the ground. Some of the roots on those little
guys are 8-9 inches long. Another foe of the garden is milkweed. Always plenty of that around. So I guess what I'm saying
is that even though it is too wet to plant it is a good time to weed.
To promote growth, vigor and optimum flowering, iris clumps
may be raised and divided every three years or so. Dig up the
rhizomes carefully to avoid damage to rhizomes and their roots.
Examine them for the presence of worm-like insects called iris
borers, which may seriously damage or destroy the plant. If they
are found, remove them, cut out the affected tissue and dust with
a garden insecticide, such as Sevin, before replanting. Select
sound rhizomes with two or more growing points. Rhizomes may be
cut apart with a sharp knife, or snapped apart by hand. Be sure
to preserve as many rhizome roots as possible. The best time to
divide iris is in mid-summer while the plants are dormant. Late
July through mid August is preferred.
Trees Shedding Bark...
Trees naturally shed bark as they grow. The amount of bark shed
varies significantly from one year to the next and is usually not
noticeable. But some trees, such as sycamore, London Planetree
and silver maple, shed bark in large patches or strips. During a
year with heavy shedding homeowners may become concerned that the
tree is sick or dying. Such usually is not the case. Sycamore and
London Planetree normally show a bright green color on the
branches when the bark first falls off but soon return to normal.
Maple reveals an orange color after shedding but it, too, soon
returns to normal. There is nothing wrong with the tree as long
as the shedding bark simply reveals underlying bark rather than
When Is A Tomato Ripe?
Early July starts tomato ripening time in Kansas City. We’ve all heard
of ‘vine ripe’ flavor but does a tomato have to remain on the
vine until it is completely ripe? The answer is no. When a tomato
reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins
the ripening process which is regulated by an internal gas
produced within the fruit called ethylene. After the tomato
reaches a stage when it's about ˝ green and ˝ pink (called the
‘breaker stage’), a layer of cells forms across the stem of the
tomato- sealing it from the main vine. At this point there is
nothing moving from the plant into the fruit. At this stage the
tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of
flavor, quality or nutrition.
Red pigments in tomatoes don’t form above 95°F so tomatoes ripened
in extreme heat will have a orange-red color. Tomatoes held at cooler
temperatures will ripen slower. You can speed up or slow down the ripening
process by raising the temperature (to an optimum of 85°F) or lowering the
temperature (to a minimum of 50°F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor,
nutrition, and color when the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this
doesn’t have to occur on the plant!
When To Pick A Pepper...
Depending on what variety of bell pepper you are growing and
what color you want it to be you have different guidelines to
follow for the timing of your harvest. Green bell varieties are
usually picked when they are fully grown and mature - 3 to 4 inches
long, firm and green. Colored bell peppers start out green but
should be left on the plant until they develop full flavor and ripen
fully to red, yellow, orange or brown.
Fall Crops Begin Now...
A fall harvest of cabbage, vine crops, broccoli, cauliflower, and
Brussels sprouts means setting transplants in late July. For
lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale, and spinach, you
should sow seeds in late July to early August.
Brussels sprouts are especially good fall crops as their flavor is
enhanced by a mild frost. They are hungry little guys so make
monthly applications of 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of ˝ cup per
square yard from the time the plants are 4 inches tall through harvest.
Dormez Vous Fescue?...
We've had a number of Savvygardeners ask about letting lawns go
dormant during summer. This time of year many cool-season
grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and perennial rye will
naturally go dormant and turn brown due to lack of water or too
much heat. Remember, the lawn is not dead - it's only dormant
and will green up again when the weather is more favorable in the
fall. Mow it regularly to about three inches and water during
extended dry periods.
Now, we've been around long enough to know that most of you can't
stand the idea of brown grass all summer. If you wish to keep the lawn
green you will need to follow a regular watering routine before
the lawn begins to brown. Once the lawn goes dormant watering will not
generally green it up until fall. You will need about 1 inch of rain or
irrigation per week. It is better to give the lawn a good soaking (to a
6 inch depth) once a week than frequent light watering. Always water early
in the day to reduce disease occurrence.
Looking for a good, low exertion chore for the hot weather?
Try inspecting your shade trees and the grass below them. They
may be getting so full of branches that not enough sunlight
filters through to your grass. If your grass is just not making
it under a particular tree you can stand in its shade and make
some notes for future pruning. You'd be surprised how well grass
will respond to even a moderate amount of increased sunlight.
"The stillness of the early morning scene enables me to take
in and enjoy many things which pass me by during the
bustle of the day. First there are the scents, which seem
even more generous with their offerings than they are in
the evening. The good old-fashioned dog-rose in the hedge-
row was almost effusive in its fragrance and the leaves of
the Sweetbriar or Eglantine, so loved by the Elizabethans,
had a richness, which must have been caused by the dew,
far surpassing anything they usually provide, except after
~ Rosemary Verey