Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

June 22, 2011

In This Issue
Beat The Heat
Hey Bud, Get Outta' Here!
Trees Shedding Bark
Seen Any Spittlebugs?
Timely Tomato Tips
Beware Of Brown Patch
Ozone, Mow Zone

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~Pruning Clematis 
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~Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
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~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


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This Week's Phots


Now that summer is officially here, the weather feels more like late spring. It was 63 this morning at 6 AM as Sam Parker and I headed out for our morning walk. It was a bit chilly to me but Sam Parker was quite pleased by the recent turn in the weather. He slogged along, you really can't call it walking anymore. It's more of me standing around while he smells everything we saunter by. Every now and then I have to give him a good tug on the leash so we can keep moving. He's 10 years old now and to say he is slowing down is an understatement. He still enjoys his walks and if you look at him and say, "Do you wanna go for a walk?" he gets wildly excited. Still a puppy on the inside, old dog on the outside. I can so relate!  


How about this crazy weather? Last week's heat and humidity really stirred up the atmosphere causing late evening thunderstorms which included some very vivid lightning, thunder, hail in some places and strong gusty winds. It was difficult to get a good night's sleep due to the thunderstorms firing up at two and three in the morning. The rain has been plentiful so no need to run the irrigation for now. More rain forecast for the weekend. Sounds like it could be wet, wet, wet for the rest of the week. Not so good for outside plans but good for all things growing. Mild temperatures and lots of rain; not too bad of a start to summer.

~ Shelly
Beat The Heat...

Looks like we're getting a much needed break from the summer-like heat - at least for a few days. When the heat returns (and it will) make sure you're practicing safe gardening. Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:

  • Tasks that occur outdoors in sunny areas should be done in early morning or late afternoon whenever possible, not during the midday heat. Most watering, pruning, dead heading, etc., is better for plants when done in early morning. Many chemicals, especially insecticides, are better applied late in the day when the wind is down and beneficial insects are not present.
  • Allow yourself to acclimate to the heat slowly. Over a period of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time spent in hot, still areas or in direct sun.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, drinking as many liquids as possible. Don't wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, as thirst is an indicator that your body is already dehydrated. Water is preferred, except when heat cramps occur (then drink a lightly salted beverage like a sports drink). The water's temperature should be cool, not cold.
  • Though tempting, do not work in the yard in a tank top or without a shirt due to the potential for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes. Keep the fabric content high in cotton to aid sweat evaporation. Neckbands, headbands, wristbands, visors, and hats can increase evaporation to keep the body cool.
  • Lastly, take frequent breaks to reduce the amount of time spent in the sun or heat. After working for an hour, take a break to cool down and have a drink in the shade to reduce the build up of heat stress on your body.


Hey Bud, Get Outta' Here!

One of the most common pests of petunias is the budworm caterpillar. These small green worms appear in late June and July and feed on the flower buds, making small holes in the buds and the leaves. You won't often see the worm itself. Instead, you'll see the droppings, which resemble small, black seeds. Because of their size, removing them by hand may not be practical. If you are so inclined, Dipel, Thuricide, Talstar and Scimitar are reasonably effective insecticides. Sevin and Diazinon aren't effective, because budworms have become resistant to them. If left unchecked, the presence of the caterpillars will cause your petunias to stop blooming.



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 bare wood.



Seen Any Spittlebugs?


The spittlebug derives its name from the white, frothy "spittle" the nymphs produce. Adults are large, black leafhoppers about 1/3-inch long with two red stripes that go crosswise across the back. The eyes and abdomen are bright red. Though the nymphs resemble the adults, they are smaller and wingless. Color varies from yellow to white to orange, but the eyes are always red.


Spittlebug nymphs suck plant juices like aphids, but they remove so much water and carbohydrates that excess fluid is produced. They cover themselves with this fluid and then produce the spittle by bubbling air from the tip of the abdomen into the liquid. The spittle mass helps protect the nymphs from drying and from predators.


Spittlebugs normally do not achieve high enough populations to cause damage. If they do, forcefully hosing the plants several times should achieve the level of control needed.



Timely Tomato Tips...


Tomatoes are growing vigorously now. However, the end of spring and the onset of hot, dry weather can lead to several problems in tomatoes. Tomatoes that experience early vigorous growth often drop some blossoms during the transition to summer weather. Don't worry. New blooms should develop rapidly to replace the fallen ones.


Also, tomato plants may be subject to leaf curl where the leaves roll up from the edges. This is a short-term condition that develops as the tomato is trying to reduce it's leaf surface to allow the roots to develop.




Beware Of Brown Patch...


It's getting to be that time of year that brown patch starts showing up all over the area. This turf disease is favored by warm night temperatures and extended periods of leaf wetness. If you go outside in the morning and the lawn is covered with dew and the temperature is in the high 60s and above, it means that conditions are right for brown patch. During severe outbreaks, the fungus may invade the lower leaf sheaths and crown and kill plants. But in most cases the turfgrass can recover from brown patch. This recovery may take two to three weeks depending on weather.

Unfortunately there is no way to eliminate brown patch from a lawn as it will persist indefinitely in the soil. In almost all cases, the limiting factor for brown patch development is the weather. Although you can't eliminate the fungus, cultural practices - especially irrigation - can help control it.

  • Don't water in the evening; instead, water early in the morning. This will help decrease the number of hours the leaf tissue remains wet and susceptible to infection. The frequency of irrigation is not as important as the time of day you do it.
  • Don't overfertilize, and certainly don't fertilize when brown patch is active.
  • Make sure your seeding or overseeding rates are not too high.



Ozone, Mow Zone...


Small gasoline engines like those found on lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers lack pollution controls. According to the Mid-America Regional Council the average lawnmower produces as much pollution in one hour as forty late-model cars! Do yourself, and your fellow gardeners, a favor by not mowing on ozone alert days. If you have to mow, try to do it after 7 PM. 


"The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying. Its fragrant, delicate petals open fully and are ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun. It is so every summer. One can almost hear their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass: "Summer summer, it will always be summer."

~ Rachel Peden

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