Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

August 3, 2011

In This Issue
Lush Lawns Are Looming
Helpful Harvest Hints
Waste Not, Want Not
Another Water Saver
Getting Ready For Winter?
Thump Goes The Melon
Final Feeding

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This Week's Phots



Get out your jackets! Tomorrow's predicted high 88. Finally - a little relief! After almost four weeks of temperatures in the high 90's and 100's we may get to see the 80's! It would be nice to get some rain. I have been watering non-stop since we returned home from vacation Monday. I hired someone to water the potted plants but after returning home and surveying the damage I am now more worried about my hydrangeas, rhododendrons and other shrubs. They are so dry! I have been deep watering for two days straight so a little assistance from mother nature would be greatly appreciated. I am terrified to think how high my water bill is going to be. Oh well, what's a gardener to do? Let everything die? I don't think so. 

I was out today for a couple of hours (still in the shade) cutting back perennials. I have pretty much given up on my annuals. Pulled some ageratum today that looked just awful. After dead-heading and cutting back, things are starting to take shape again. If all else fails, cut it back. This philosophy works for me every time. And most of the time I see another round of blooms. So a win-win situation. 

90's for the rest of the week and into the weekend. Maybe those horrible 100's are gone. I can only hope!
~ Shelly

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 killer.


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 further production.
  • 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.  

Another 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...

good idea

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 thumped.

Final Feeding...


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.



"Remain true to the earth."

~  Friedrich Nietzsche

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