Week 15 (6/30/05)
Itís the last day of June. Where did this month go? Oh well, itís 4th of July Weekend, and itís a 3 day-er! Woo-hoo! Be careful, be safe, and enjoy the time off!
[The quickest way to get a childís attention is to take a nap.]
*WHETHER ITíS THE WEATHER Ė Hot and dry continues to hang around the area. Yes, isolated storms (some very severe) have moved through, but with very spotty and isolated showers. Keep up with your watering, even if a shower moves through. Moist soils help to wick quick showers down into the soil.
By the way, when we talk about irrigating the turf with 1 inch of rainfall every 7-10 days or so, itís based on replenishing the evapotranspiration (ET) rate. This is a figure derived from the amount of water lost from the soil surface (evaporation) coupled with the loss from the plant (transpiration). And many factors can affect this. Last week, ET rates were ranging between 0.2 and 0.26 inches per day! Remember that 1 inch per week is to help keep the lawn actively growing. If the lawn goes dormant, Ĺ inch every 10 days or so will at least keep the crowns alive, without having the lawn break dormancy.
Mowing will really slow down during periods like weíre having right now. Keep the mowing height high (2 Ĺ to 3 Ĺ inches) and your lawn will perform much better than those mower lower and kept under low mowing stress.
[Mummies Ė Egyptians that were pressed for time.]
*WHATS BUGGIN YOU? Ė Well, Iím finally getting a few isolated emails and calls from frustrated gardeners being graced with the presence of Japanese Beetles. Cucumber beetles have appeared on the cucs, so keep an eye open for them. Also be prepared for squash vine borer on your viners in the garden. Cover with grow covers, repeat sprayings of sevin, eight, Bt, rotenone, etc at the center of the plant out about 2-3 feet, and possibly covering some of the vine further out with soil so it re-roots may help if the borer gets into the vine back at the center of the plant. If you see them, you can dig them out with an exacto knife, and then cover that over with soil. Bagworms have hatched and I finally have seen a few batches! Woo-hoo! Spray early with Bt, and it becomes hand picking after they reach about Ĺ inches or longer.
[Talk to yourself. Itís a good way to find out what youíre thinking.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS Ė Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"We have a groundhog that has burrowed into our garden. What do I do?" -If it has become a nuisance, you can try trapping it yourself, or hire a professional animal removal service to do it for you.
"Thereís light brown stuff in our mulch that looks like vomit or the creeping blob. Any clues on what it is and how to get rid of it?" -Dog Barf (Vomit) Fungus, a slime mold which generally grows in shredded hardwood mulches. All a part of the decomposition process happening in the mulch. Turns brown, yellow, orange, etc. Wonít kill plants or the pets or the kids, just looks funky. Scoop it up and throw it away, or fluff it up in the mulch. Thatís all you can do. No preventatives, no curatives, just a part of the process.
"Mosquitoes are already eating me alive. What can I do?" -Remember that the mosquitoes you fight in your yard are from your yard or the immediate neighborís, as thatís about as far as mosquitoes will fly. So the first step is for you and the neighbors to eliminate any and all breeding grounds for the mosquitoes, especially any standing water. Thatís ANY standing water. ANY. Second step is to protect yourself with repellents, wear appropriate clothing, and try to stay inside during mosquito timeís outdoors. Then, and only then, do you try all the other goodies like spraying the shrubs, using scented candles and torches, foggers, Joy in water saucers, "Mosquito repelling plants", and the "mosquito traps", of which I continue to read mixed reviews of those things!
"I have bagworms on my blue spruce, and canít use the horticultural oils on blue spruce. What else should I use?" -Good Point, and glad you read the label! Oils cannot be used on Blue Spruce, as it will turn the blue, green. (Although this can be a great trick to play on the neighbor. No-no, just kidding. Although it would be a good joke. But donít do it!) Sevin, Eight, Bt, Orthene, and all the rest will work, as well as handpicking if you have the time. Helps to clear the mind!
"Can I still plant trees and shrubs and such this time of the year?" -Absolutely! With so many things being grown in containers, plant selection has never been better for summer sales. As for watering, itís no different watering a plant planted today, than watering one that was planted 2 months ago. They still need regular watering. The only big drawback is that you will sweat more! But that may be good for you!
[One good thing you can give and still keep is your word.]
*TOP 10 MOST FRAGRANT ROSES Ė The most fragrant AARS winning roses were announced this week, chosen from all the winners since 1960. In order, they are 1.) Double Delight (hybrid tea 1977), 2.) Elle (hybrid tea 2005), 3.) 4th of July (climber 1999), 4.) Honey Perfume (floribunda2004), 5.) Memorial Day (hybrid tea 2004), 6.) Midas Touch (hybrid tea 1994), 7.) Mr. Lincoln (hybrid tea 1965), 8.) Scentimental (floribunda 1997), 9.) Sheer Bliss (hybrid tea1987), and 10.) Sun Sparkles (miniature 2001). Youíll want to stop and smell these roses!
ARE YOUR ANNUALS GETTING LEGGY? FEEL FREE TO CUT THEM BACK. THEY MAY LOOK A LITTLE FUNNY FOR A COUPLE WEEKS, BUT WILL COME BACK FULLER AND WITH MORE COLOR AND MAY EVEN THANK YOU FOR THE HAIRCUT!
*CONTAINER GARDENING WITHOUT SOIL! Ė If you like water gardens, but donít have the space or the commitment it takes, why not try Ďcontainer water gardeningí? All spring, weíve taken a look at different types of container gardening. Today, weíll look at another, but this container gardening requires ĎNO SOILí! Its container water gardening and all you need for this is a container that holds water, a little water, a few water plants, and a little imagination.
Now any container will work, but I like to use something thatís 20 to 24 inches square or larger. That allows for more water and more room for a nice assortment of plants. Once youíve chosen your pot, put it in a sunny location, and fill with water. Now, chose water plants that you like best. Be sure to start with adding Anacharis first, which is one of the best water purifies and oxygenators. You have to have Anacharis!
Then, choose plants with varying heights, textures, and maybe even a few that flower. In this water garden, Iím using Purple Pickerel Weed for medium height, texture and summer flowers, as well as this Red stem taro for those large leaves and, red stems! If you want to adjust heights, simply add an upside down pot in the water as a plant stand.
Now, Iím adding a few floaters like water hyacinths, and water lettuce, again for texture, the hyacinth will flower, and to give more surface cover (helps reduce algae). Water lilies could also be used, but again, there are many water plants for you to choose. Just let your imagination go when planting your container water garden.
And if youíre concerned about clear water and mosquitoes, donít be. The right combination of plants will keep the water clear as glass, and if a few mosquito larvae show up, use Mosquito Dunks, or toss in a goldfish or two. Then youíve added a little wildlife to your container water garden!
[Cross a salmon and a feather, and youíll get a fish thatís tickled pink.]
[When elephants fight, itís the grass that suffers.]
*KEEP THOSE CONTAINERS WATERED - If youíre a container gardener, then youíre committed to watering. But what happens when you need to go away for a few days? Well, here are a few hints to keep your plants watered, without having someone stop by and do it for you.
1.) If possible, group your plants (indoors or out) together in a semi shadier location. Grouped plants shade each other, wonít dry out as quickly, and the shadier location helps slow down water loss as well.
2.) If you used Soil Moist when first planting your containers, great! These small crystals absorb 200 times their weight in water, and re-release it back to the plants roots when the soil dries out, cutting your watering as much as in half. If you donít have Soil Moist in the soil, it can be added by punching several long holes with a pencil or dowel, and then dropping a few crystals in each hole.
3.) Water your plants thoroughly just before you leave, whether they need it or not. That way the soil, the plant, and the Soil Moist have been recharged with maximum amounts of water.
4.) Supplement additional water needed by adding an Aqua Cone or 2 to each container. These cones, when attached to a 2 liter bottle filled with water, will slow drip water into the soil over an extended period of time, adding moisture to the soil as it is used up by the plant. Again, extending the amount of time before the next watering would be needed.
5.) And lastly, if youíre going to be gone for a week, this is one time, and the only time, we will suggest placing a saucer under the pot and leaving water in the saucer. Again, this is the only time we would recommend doing this, but it will extend the time before the next watering is needed.
In some cases, doing all this may last for a week or so without adding more water. Experiment before you leave, to make sure you know how long it will last for your plants. Soil Moist and Aqua Cones; two great ways to help you water, whether youíre home or on the road.
[The Romans had to stop holidays. The lions were eating up the prophets.]
GARDENING BY THE BALE Ė Early this spring, someone asked if I had even heard or read about gardening in bales of straw or hay. I had not, but was curious and did some research on the subject. Come to find out, there have been several folks who have been successful growing plants in bales of straw. The trick is to get the bales, and perform a little pre-planting preparation (adding water, ammonium nitrate, fertilizer, more water, a little manure, more water, etc. to get the bale started rotting) which takes about 2-4 weeks. Then you plant in bales and watch your plants grow. If you have done this before, or know someone who has, let me know. If time allows, I may still try this yet this year just to see what happens. Hey, itís different!
[Never take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN Ė HEY RITA, WHATS COOKIN? Ė ED, Iím in a Southwestern mood this week. The cilantro I planted last fall is quickly bolting to seed due to this hot weather, and the new seedlings have just sprung up. Hereís a great way to use that cooling herb. Yes, Ed, cilantro is paired with spicy foods because it really does tame a hot tummy. It also helps digestion and has a large amount of nutrients, including carotene, calcium, protein and minerals. So cilantro is good and good for you!
If youíre adventurous, Ed, you can always add other items into the quesadilla, like refried beans spread on the tortilla before you fill it, chopped tomatoes, whatever.
QUICK & EASY CHICKEN CHEESE QUESADILLAS
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups cheddar, Monterrey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
1 bunch green onions, sliced or couple handfuls of chopped onion chives
Handful or so of chopped cilantro (opt but good)
Diced canned green chilies to taste (2 oz can) or fresh jalapenos, diced
1 package flour tortillas
Garnish: Sour cream, salsa, guacamole, black beans, etc.
Combine filling ingredients. Spread mixture on each tortilla to within 1" of edge. Fold in half to enclose filling, or top with another tortilla. Heat a 10" skillet and add a bit of olive oil. Get the olive oil hot and add tortilla. Cook until golden on each side. Serve with garnishes.
Tips from Ritaís Kitchen:
-Feel free to use the stems of cilantro as well as the leaves. This is one herb where the stems are always tender enough to use. And remember, nutrition starts in the root, so anytime you can use the stems of herbs, go ahead.
-Cooking with cilantro: Generally itís best to add cilantro during the last 5 minutes of cooking time, for great flavor. It doesnít hold up well to long periods of heat.
-Coriander is the seed pod of cilantro. It has a lemony, assertive flavor and is used in marinades, stews, and root vegetables. Coriander and cilantro are not interchangeable in recipes.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macyís Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
* BONUS DIP RECIPE! Ė I just had to add this dip recipe, as I did this time last year. It comes from a good friend and co-worker, Darla Simms, who makes this for us in our office on special occasions. Once I start eating it, I just canít stop!
DARLAíS SALSA DIP - Youíll need 8 ounces soft cream cheese, 1 cup Thick & Chunky Salsa (Chi-Chi Hot Ė use mild or medium if youíre not a spicy person!), 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and diced jalapenos (to taste). Mix the cream cheese and salsa, then add the cheddar cheese and mix well. Add diced jalapenos to taste. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and jalapeno rings. Serve with Triscuits. (Darla bets you canít eat just one! I know I canít! This stuff is great, and you can make it as hot or as mild as youíd like. Itís the 4th, so fire it up!)
[Constant use will wear out anything Ė especially friends.]
*YARDBOYS PLANTS TO PONDER Ė This week, letís ponder a plant just gets better looking as the season goes along. Itís a woody ornamental, tough and easy to grow (hardy in zones 4-8), prefers full to part sun, are not particular about soil types and are quite drought resistant once established. The new growth is a vivid chartreuse green, quickly changing to bright yellow. The leaf stems are fuzzy purplish-pink and form a dramatic contrast with the lemon lime foliage. The branches angle upward while the deeply cut leaflets drape downward, giving what I think is an oriental look. In the fall, the foliage turns a combination of bright yellow, orange and scarlet. This ornamental Ďtreeí only gets about 6-8 feet tall, and easily controlled as a single stem or multi-stemmed specimen. Our plant to ponder this week is Tiger Eyes Sumac, and donít let the name Ďsumací throw you off. Come see this great plant.