Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

August 10, 2011

In This Issue
Still Time To Divide Iris
Hardcore Tomatoes
Garden Toppers
Garden Plans For You
Bitter Cucumbers?
Compost Considerations
Oh Say Can You Seed?

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~ 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


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This Week's Phots



Wow, what a day! I couldn't believe how cool it was this morning. It was cloudy, cool and sprinkling. I was thrilled to see some rain drops but then disappointed when they dissipated. Why do those thunderstorms keep missing us? Even though the sky appeared threatening on Sunday all we got was a few sprinkles and some very high winds. Not exactly what I was hoping for. It feels as if I have been waiting for a day like today for months. Beautiful blue sky, a not too hot sun, a soft breeze, and a manageable temperature. We've turned the corner and can now look forward to fall planting. Thank goodness! 

I was outside early today getting a jump on things that I have been putting off due to the unbearable weather. I cleaned out a huge bed of lamb's ear, cut back my out of control geraniums, pruned a row of yews, dead-headed my knockout roses and did some edging. I had a blast! Yep you read it right, it was fun! Just me doing my thing all by myself. Can you hear me smiling? 

I am the luckiest gal. Monday I was at KU Med for a doctor's appointment and I am waiting in a patient room and in walks Kristen. We made small talk and then she says, "You look just like the gal who publishes the Savvygardener newsletter". And I say, "Well, I look like her because I am her". She let's out a little squeak, (it was so cute by the way) and says, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it's you!" So you can probably imagine what happened after that. We fell right into garden talk. It was so much fun! I love meeting our readers. If I have to have some blood drawn I feel lucky that Kristen, a very loyal Savvygardener, is the one to do it. A big thanks to Kristen for making my day!
~ Shelly

Still Time To Divide Iris...

Late summer is ideal for dividing, moving and planting iris. The old foliage wilting from the summer's heat can be trimmed back at least halfway. Trimming also helps when dividing iris to prevent moisture loss while the plants get established. Follow these simple steps to divide your iris plants:

  • Dig Iris with a potato fork, being careful not to damage the rhizome.
  • With a sterile knife, cut the rhizome vertically. Each division should be approximately 2 inches long with 2-3 fans.
  • Dig a shallow hole mounded in the middle and spread the roots around the mound.
  • Set the plant with fans facing to the outside of the garden to make room for expanded growth.
  • Fill the hole with soil, being careful to leave rhizomes partially exposed, and water well.
  • Water the newly planted iris regularly if the weather is hot and dry being careful to avoid overwatering.



Hardcore Tomatoes...

During stressful weather (and usually aggravated by excessive fertilization) the central core of a tomato may become tough and turn greenish white. The walls also may become pale and corky. This is usually a temporary condition known as "hard core." Fruit that develops later is often free of this condition.


Older varieties of tomatoes normally have five distinct cavities that are filled with seeds and jelly-like material called locular jelly. However, many newer tomato varieties possess genetic traits to make the fruit meatier and firmer with the seeds being produced all over the inside of the fruit rather than in the five distinct cavities. These types of tomatoes do not seem to produce a hard central core nearly as readily as ones that are not as meaty.


The older variety, Jet Star, which has been widely grown for many years by Kansas gardeners, has a tendency to produce a hard core when stressed. Newer varieties such as Mountain Spring, Mountain Fresh, Daybreak, Sun Leaper, Sunmaster, Celebrity, Carnival, and other 'semi-determinate' varieties are less likely to suffer from this condition.



Garden Toppers...


If you have a vegetable or annual garden that is normally empty in the fall and through winter you should consider planting a green manure crop there at the end of this growing season. The name green manure is given to any crop which is grown only to be tilled back into the soil. As it rots, the nutrients in the crop foliage and roots will be taken up by the next crop planted in the same place. Green manures from the legume family, such as peas, beans, and clovers, have an added bonus - nitrogen-fixing bacteria living around their roots can draw nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form the plant can absorb. This nitrogen will then be available to subsequent crops.


Green manures also act as "cover crops" protecting the soil from compaction and erosion caused by wind and rain, as well as reducing the extent that weeds take over bare soil.


Garden Plans For You To Enjoy...


If you have big landscaping plans for this fall it's time to start making decisions on which plants you will purchase and where they will be placed. As you do your shopping try to imagine how long you will live in your current home. The average American family moves every five years. If you think you might move within five years consider buying the biggest plants you can afford. If you buy small you won't be around to fully appreciate your garden when it matures.  

Bitter Cucumbers or Better Cucumbers?


Wondering why your cucumbers are bitter? Well, the 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.  Sometimes these happen at the same time.

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 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. A mulch helps conserve moisture and keep roots cool during hot, dry weather.
  • Adequate water especially during the fruiting season.
  • Disease and insect control.




Compost Considerations...


We get a lot of e-mail about compost piles. There's always a question or two about what should not be composted. Here are a few don'ts when it comes to back yard composting:

  • Weeds- Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.
  • Pet Waste - While many animal manures make valuable soil amendments, parasites carried in dog and cat feces can cause diseases in humans.
  • Meat, Fish, Bones - These items will develop an awful odor, attracting rats and other unwanted critters.



Oh Say Can You Seed?


Yes you can! The best time to start new cool-season grass seed is late summer/early fall. As long as it doesn't get crazy hot in the next 7-10 days you'll be able to get started. Seeding this time of year takes advantage of warm weather for proper seed germination while allowing the new turf to thrive as the temperatures cool into fall. 


""We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

~  Abraham Lincoln

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