This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Bitter Cucumbers? ~ The Cutting Gardener ~ Too Tall Turf?
~ Revitalize Herbs ~ Plucking Petunias ~ This Week's Photos
~ Thump Goes The Melon ~ Bulbs That Bloom In Autumn ~ Inspiration

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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ 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 around.

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!

~ Shelly   

Bitter Cucumbers?
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 season.

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 insect control.


Revitalize Herbs...
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 120 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 vase life.
  • 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, enjoy!


Plucking Petunias...
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 tighter.

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 again.

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



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