~ August 4, 2010 ~
I guess I'll start with "Boy it sure is hot out there!" We returned from vacation late Sunday evening which
was a good thing. If we would have come home mid-day to this heat I may have gotten back on that plane and
headed straight back to the beach. Every summer we spend a week with Kevin's family in the Outer Banks, North
Carolina. What a time we had. We arrived there on Saturday, July 22nd to similar weather we are receiving
here now. It was hot! Even down by the ocean. There was no air and the flies were biting like crazy! The good
news is that we only had to deal with the hotter temps for a couple of days. On Monday a cold front passed
through and dropped the temperatures into the high 80's low 90's. Great beach weather :-) The last day on the
beach was a bit wacky. It was actually cool. I'm guessing low 80's but the wind was blowing like crazy. In fact when
we all headed to the beach for the day we were covered up with towels to stay warm. There is some crazy, crazy
weather going on everywhere and it sure makes you wonder what Mother Nature has in store for us next.
While visiting Kevin's family on the East coast we had the opportunity to stay with Kevin's mom and dad for a couple
of days. They have just finished a huge landscaping project. It is beautiful but unfortunately they too have been
having way too much heat making it a full time job to care for everything planted. Kevin's mom, Mary, is quite a
knowledgeable gardener and she was kicking herself for allowing the company they hired to plant most of the trees and
shrubs this time of year. She and I talked at great length about how perhaps she should have waited until fall but didn't. Isn't that
the case? Here you have this huge project going on and you want it completed. The landscape companies will typically
plant anytime of the year but we as gardeners need to speak up and think about what's going to be best. You would think
that the landscape company itself would have given her some advice but they went forward and planted thousands of dollars
of plant material. Most of it is going to be fine. I think she's going to lose a couple of trees, shrubs and a few
perennials but other than that things look pretty good
(photos). Of course when they started the project in June no one could
have guessed that they would be receiving some of the hottest weather in years. It is a tough situation to be in.
I keep crossing my fingers for a little rain. It looks like we got some while we were gone but we sure could use some more.
The local forecasters are calling for a chance this evening. Here's hoping for a great chance!
Lush Lawns Are Looming...
Fall is just around the corner and there's no better time of
year to renovate your lawn. Take a hard look at your grass and
decide just how much work you have ahead of you.
- If you just need to thicken it up, a round
of over-seeding will probably do the trick. To ensure good
seed to soil contact you might want to make use of a
verticutter. This handy machine, which can be rented locally,
makes nice vertical cuts in your existing lawn and soil. Over
this cutting you can broadcast your seeds. Seeds should find
their way into the soil where they will germinate nicely.
- Every other year or so you should try core aerating your
lawn. Doing so will control and prevent problems such as
thatch and soil compaction. Core aerating machines will pull
up numerous plugs of soil about the diameter of a pencil,
making holes into the lawn. Leave the plugs on the surface and
work the lawn as usual.
- If your lawn is so overridden with perennial weeds or you're ready to
try a new type of grass altogether you will need to eliminate
what's there with Round Up or other appropriate herbicide.
Once the grass and weeds are dead use a verticutter or roto-tiller
to prepare the soil for new seed.
A note about weeds - If crabgrass is appearing in your lawn in mid
to late summer, remember that it's an annual and will die-off as
temperatures drop later this fall. For perennial weeds it is
best to delay herbicide applications until a newly planted lawn
has been mowed at least 3 times. This gives the new grass time
to mature to a point where it is not so sensitive to the weed
Helpful Harvest Hints...
Vegetable harvest can be confusing - especially if
you're still new at it. Here are some quick tips to help with a
few local favorites:
- Harvest onions after the tops yellow and fall, then cure them in
a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. The necks should be free of
moisture when fully cured in about a week's time.
- Harvest potatoes after the tops yellow and die. Potatoes also
need to be cured before storage.
- Pick beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage
- Harvest sweet corn when kernels are plump and ooze a milky juice
when punctured with your fingernail. If the liquid is watery,
you're too early; if the kernels are doughy, you're too late.
Waste Not, Want Not...
Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to
preventing drips in our faucets and other indoor
plumbing. For some reason however we are ready to ignore
dribbles and trickles in our garden hoses and spigots. Unless
those leaks are falling right where moisture is needed (not
likely) it is simply a waste of water. Depending on the rate of
the leak it is entirely possible to waste hundreds of gallons
of water every day. In most cases it's a matter of simply
tightening hose connections and fittings. Applying Teflon tape
to threaded connectors will stop more stubborn leaks. It may
also be time to replace that old leaky hose altogether.
One More Water Saver...
Speaking of stopping wasted water... When was the last
time you looked at your automatic sprinkler system in action?
If you haven't seen it in a while (or ever) you might be
surprised where you are watering (and where you're not).
Pop-up sprinkler heads can get out out of alignment over time
and as a result will wind up watering sidewalks, driveways,
adjacent roads, or other areas that don't need watering. So,
take a few minutes to manually activate your watering system and
see if any of those sprinkler heads need some adjustments.
Getting Ready For Winter...
While it may be August it's actually time for your trees and shrubs to
start preparing for winter. They've got some tough conditions to prepare
for and it begins now. The best thing you can do to help is lay off the
fertilizer. Fertilizing now will only stimulate late growth that won't
have time to harden-off properly before winter. Keep watering however.
You still want to keep them alive after all!
Thump Goes The Melon...
Watermelon growers probably 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
Savvygardeners growing warm-season grasses like zoysia should
make their last application of fertilizer this week. Fertilizing
into fall can interfere with the all important hardening-off
process that prepares the grass for winter.
"Space for the sunflower,
Bright with yellow glow
To court the sky."
~ Caroline Gilman