Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

July 27, 2011

In This Issue
Stinkbugs On Tomatoes
Growin' Garlic
Time To Divide Iris
Prevent Pesticide Problems
A Perfect Pear
Fruit Support
Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty

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~Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~When to Divide Perennials
~Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
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This Week's Phots



Is it ok for me to say I've had enough? My gardening desire has been extinguished by the dog days of summer. My annuals look dreadful and I really couldn't care less. The weeds are consuming my beds and I'm allowing them to take on a life of their own. Insert sigh... I am distracted by thoughts of rain and cooler days. I can't believe I'm saying this but I wish it were fall.

My youngest sister is home visiting my parents who live in Marion, Kansas. She lives in Denver and has forgotten about the humidity. She asks, "How do you do it?" I say, "You used to live here, silly. It is like anything else, you just get use to it." I can say for certain that she probably won't be moving back to Kansas anytime soon. I guess I can't blame her. Denver is experiencing hot days but is dry and much cooler in the evenings. The mountains are right outside her door. Sounds pretty nice doesn't it? That reminds me of the famous song by the Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". So true!
~ Shelly

Stinkbugs On Tomatoes...

When tomatoes on the vine develop white, pink or yellow-gold spots, the likely cause is stinkbugs. Stinkbugs are the skunks of the insect world. "Like skunks, these shield-shaped insects emit a foul odor when disturbed", said Ward Upham, who coordinates K-State Research and Extension's Master Gardener program. "A stinkbug injures fruit when it uses its mouthparts to probe for food. That not only affects the tomato's color development but also causes a whitish 'callous' to develop under the skin at the wound site." Upham said. Typically, the exterior result is an off-color, cloudy spot. If stinkbugs are feeding heavily, however, the entire tomato may develop a gold hue, with pinprick-size puncture wounds in the middle of each of the overlapping spots, he said. "Unfortunately, stinkbug control is basically impossible. By the time you notice the spots, the stinkbugs usually are gone," Upham added. "Fortunately, though, the affected tomatoes are safe to eat."


Growin' Garlic...

Garlic is a cook's best friend. Home-grown garlic is an extra special treat. Making sure your garlic is harvested correctly is simple but important:

Garlic should be harvested when the foliage begins to dry. Using a garden fork or shovel, carefully dig the bulbs with the foliage still attached. Dry the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray in a warm, well-ventilated location for 3 to 4 weeks. When properly cured, cut off the dry foliage to 1 inch above the bulbs, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool (32 to 40F), dry (60 to 70% relative humidity) location. Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for 6 to 7 months.



Time To Divide Iris...


There's some very rewarding summer work to be done right now. It's time to divide your irises. After 3 to 5 years of growth irises will become crowded and should be divided so they don't starve each other for soil nutrients. Here's a few simple steps to get the job done:

  1. Cut the leaves back to one-third their length.
  2. Dig the rhizome clump with a fork or spade and wash the soil off with a hose.
  3. Cut the rhizomes apart so that each section has at least one healthy fan of leaves and firm, white roots.
  4. Discard soft rhizomes and any older leafless rhizomes toward the center of the clump.
  5. Plant the divisions 12 - 18 inches apart in shallow holes in a sunny location.
  6. Water immediately and again in ten days if rain is scarce.

Following these steps now allows adequate time for the divisions to get established before winter and also reduces the chance of frost heaving in late winter.

Prevent Pesticide Problems...


During summertime it is especially important to take care when applying pesticides. If rain has been scarce, make sure you take the time to water your plants several hours before applying pesticides. You see, drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues and the chemicals that enter the leaves will consequently be more concentrated. This in turn can lead to an unwanted burn-like condition on the leaves. 

A Perfect Pear...


Unlike some crops, pears are usually best when ripened off the tree. You don't want to wait for the fruit to turn yellowish before picking. Instead, harvest pears when the color of the fruit changes from dark green to lighter green and when it is easily twisted and removed from the spur.  

Fruit Support...

good idea

When fruit on fruit trees starts getting bigger the stress on tree limbs can be substantial.  So much so that your trees may need some extra support to prevent limbs from breaking. Here are some support suggestions from K-State Extension:

  • Wooden Props - Use one-inch thick boards to prop up limbs. Cut a 'V' on the top edge of the board on which the limb will rest so that it doesn't slip off. Long, heavy limbs may need a prop in the center and another near the outer part of the limb.
  • Belt Webbing - A 2-inch, plastic, belt-like material can be tied to a heavily loaded limb, then to a large diameter limb above for support. Where a large limb is used for support, it is good to have it supporting limbs on opposite sides so the weight is balanced.
  • Taping - Other solutions include wrapping a tape or belt material around the tree in a spiral to prevent limbs from bending until they break. Heavy twine may be used, but it should be removed when the fruit is picked or soon after so it does not cut into the bark on the limb.


Orange And Dusty? Probably Rusty...


Have you discovered an orange dust clinging to your shoes after walking through the lawn? You're not alone. Rust diseases attack all turfgrasses, but are most often found on susceptible Bluegrass, tall fescue ryegrass and Zoysia in late August and early September. Unlike some other turf fungi, this particular fungus (Puccinia), can do serious damage resulting in thinning and winterkill. The best protection is healthy turf management, including proper levels of fertilizer, watering, and mowing at the recommended height (normally 3 inches at this time of the year).

As always (this time of year) avoid evening and nighttime watering. 


"Summer has set in with its usual severity."

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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