~ July 21, 2010 ~
She Packs A Punch...
Mother Nature flexed her muscles once again last night and unleashed one heck of a storm.
The sky lit up for hours, the rain came down in buckets and I could not believe the strength
of the wind. Fortunately we did not lose power but I know that there were many homes without.
That gal can really pack a punch. We received three and one-half inches here and I know that some areas received as much
as five. That is a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Too bad most of it is lost to run off.
It is times like last night when I wish I owned a rain barrel. Seems like a good idea to have one
I've been busy this week picking bag worms off the arborvitae
(photos). Thanks to Alex McClain, our
Ryan Lawn &
Tree irrigation specialist, for bringing it to my attention. They were easy enough to pick off and destroy
so I am keeping a close eye on them for further infestation. It's not a very glamorous job but hey, we
gardener's will go to great lengths to save our plants.
So is this heat getting to anyone else? UGH!
A 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
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 often 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 helps
conserve moisture and keep roots cool during hot, dry weather.
- Adequate water
especially during the fruiting season.
- Disease and
If your basil and thyme look like they need an extreme makeover you
can revitalize them by cutting them back severely. This will stimulate
a clean new flush of growth, free of any insect and disease damage
incurred since spring.
Thump Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers may have some pretty big fruit by
now. You don't want to harvest your melons too early! Just
check for these tell-tale indicators of ripeness:
- The underside
ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow.
- The tendril
closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels.
- The rind loses
its gloss and appears dull.
- The melon
produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
The Cutting Gardener...
When gardens are blooming the way they
have been lately it's a shame not to spread the beauty around.
How? By bringing some of it inside! Before you try it yourself
there are some procedures to follow if you really want to do it right:
- Start when flower
stems are full of water - either early morning (6 to 8 AM) or
late evening (7 to 9 PM).
- Carry a clean
bucket filled with very warm (100 to 120º F) water.
- Always use sharp,
very clean scissors or pruners when cutting.
- Immediately place
any cut flowers in the bucket of warm water.
- When you bring
the flowers in, re-cut each flower under water. This pulls
water into the stems more quickly. Flowers that are not re-cut
immediately after picking can lose up to 60% of their
- Place the bucket
of re-cut flowers in a cool area, such as the basement and
allow them to hydrate or harden for at least one hour (although
overnight is best).
- Arrange, display,
Deadheading petunias is a sure-fire way to keep them blooming all summer long.
But sometimes gardeners have trouble knowing which ones stay and which ones go.
Spent blossoms often look very much like unopened petunia buds. If you're unsure
just remember that spent petunia blossoms are shrunken and have little substance
to them and come off with a gentle tug. Immature buds feel full and hang on a little
Bulbs That Bloom In Autumn...
The savviest of Savvygardeners know that there are a number
of autumn-blooming bulbs that really perk up the fall garden and
landscape. Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) also known as
meadow saffron, mysteria, or naked boys produces pink to lavender
crocus-like flowers in the fall and there is no foliage present
when the plants are in bloom. Dark green leaves will emerge in
the spring, remain until summer, then turn yellow and die to the
ground. After which, the flowers magically appear in the fall
Colchicums should be planted immediately after purchase or delivery in
August or September or they will start to bloom in their
packaging. Plant the corms in clumps, 2-3 inches deep in
well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Pretty!
Too Tall Turf?
If you've been away on vacation and your
lawn is extra tall be careful about cutting too much at once. As
a rule you should cut no more than one-third of the grass height
at a time. If necessary, try setting your mower height to the
highest setting for a first cutting. Then wait two-three days
and cut again at a reduced height.
"O for the sunshine
and the motion of waves
in a song! "
~ Walt Whitman, A Song of Joys