Week 20 (8/4/05)
It’s August, we’ve got some great tell tale signs that August is here. Like, "you know its August, when the birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground, or when the cows are giving evaporated milk!"
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – As this newsletter is being written, it is hot, and it is dry. Looking through the woods and even in the landscapes, many trees have taken on that really, really dry look; some have begun major leaf shedding on the inside of the plant. I can only hope that the front moving through later today and tomorrow will bring much needed rainfall, and of course, cooler temperatures. Your plants are thirsty; why join them for a drink?
By the way, we’re getting reports in some areas of the state that it has been so hot and dry, even the tall fescues have gone into a dormant stage. Now that’s pretty hot and dry!
[You know its August, when hot water comes out of both taps.]
*WHATS BUGGIN YOU? – With the heat and drought here, I wanted to remind you to be very cautious before applying pesticides to heat and drought stressed plants. I have had several emails from folks who sprayed plants during the heat, that were drought stressed, and the sprays defoliated the plants. In some cases, it could kill the plants. If you definitely need to spray pesticides on plants, read the label, follow the instructions, there are temperature warnings, and make sure the plants have been well watered in advance, and are under no drought stress. Who knows, by watering, you may just blow a few of those pesky bugs off the plant! So be careful spraying; fertilizing is the same – make sure the plants are watered / irrigated.
[You know it’s August, when you actually burn your hand trying to open the car door, only to discover that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron, and that indeed you can steer the car with only 2 fingers.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"When is the best time to trim off some of the lower limbs of my pear tree?" -Anytime you feel like it! Be sure to remove ½ of the branch to reduce the weight, and then remove the rest which is connected to the tree. Be sure that the branch collar remains, so cut off the limb ¼ to ½ inch away from the tree trunk. Don’t use tree paint on the fresh cut; just let the tree seal itself over.
"I have black spots on my Rudbeckia foliage. What’s the cause and how do I get rid of it?" -There are several leaf spots that can occur on Rudbeckia, and are enhanced by overhead irrigation, lots of rainfall, etc, over-crowded plantings, etc. Fungicidal sprays are needed beginning mid June to help control it. Stopping over watering helps, as well as thinning the clumps will help, and at the end of the season, cut all foliage off at ground level and pitch it out.
"When do I pick pears from my pear tree? I want to get them before the squirrels do." -Well, pears are actually better when they are allowed to ripen off the tree. So don’t wait until they turn yellow, pick them when the color changes from dark green to lighter green, and they’re fairly easily twisted off the spur. Not that picking earlier will save them from the squirrels! Good luck on that one.
By the way, if you have fruit trees that are loaded with fruit, as that fruit gets bigger, it also gets heavier. So be prepared to help support those branches.
"You’re always saying spray bugs off with a hose. Don’t they just crawl back on the plant?" -Great question! Sure some may crawl back, but you hose them off again. But, many are too small to crawl back. Some are now susceptible to predators and are eaten. And some are just like guys; they won’t ask for directions, get lost and never find their way back!
"I have a problem with deer, and someone claims he heard about a fertilizer that discourages deer. Do you know what that is?" -Sure do! It’s Milorganite. We’ve gotten mixed results, and you’re probably better of using that and backing it up with DEERSCRAM and LIQUID FENCE.
[You know its August, when farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.]
[You know it’s August, when you can make sun tea instantly, and that you feel a bit chilled if the temperatures drop below 90 degrees.]
[You know its August, when you’re biggest bike wreck fear is, "What if I’m knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"]
*MUMS THE WORD AND ITS ONLY AUGUST! – Do you know what the number one selling fall plant is? Nope, it’s not hosta, and not rudbeckia. It’s the garden mum, and right now, you’ll start seeing garden mums being sold in the local garden stores for summer and fall color. Summer and fall colors you say? Ours look beautiful
Yep and here’s the bottom line. Once the flower buds on mums start to show color, depending on the weather, those mum flowers could last about 6-8 weeks. So, picking a mum that has color showing now, will probably last until late September, which is fine if you’re looking for some August summer color.
But, if you’re looking for mums to give you color through September and October, then you need to either wait to buy your mums until late August or in September, or buy them now with absolutely no colors showing. They should have some very small, very tight green buds, or no buds at all. Again, depending on the weather, planted now, these mums may take another 3-4 weeks before they start to show color, and then last another 6-8 weeks with color, putting you through September and into October. Or planted in September, will last through October.
[You know its August when the potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RITA WHAT’S COOKIN? –
Ed, Shane’s wedding is this weekend, and, yes, I’m doing the food with help from family and friends. So even though the blackberries are begging to be picked, I won’t be able to get out this week to harvest them. You know I have to love that boy a lot to forego wild blackberry picking!
I had a couple of requests to share this recipe which is one of my favorites. Don’t be put off by the technique of pouring cold water over the cobbler before you bake it, either. My friend, Evelyn Cress, received this recipe from her daughter, and it has since become one of my most requested.
By the way, if the berries are real sweet, you may not need the entire 2 cups sugar. I also made half of the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 pan. And, if you’re using frozen berries from the store, don’t thaw them.
Best Blackberry Cobbler
1/2 (1 stick) cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup milk
6 cups blackberries
1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar
2 cups cold water
Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Stir flour and baking powder together. Pour flour into butter mixture and mix. Add milk and blend well. Spread into sprayed 9x13 pan. Pour blackberries on top. Sprinkle 1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar evenly over berries. Pour cold water over all. Bake until batter rises to the top peeking through berries and is golden brown, 45-55 minutes. Cobbler will be runny at first but sets as it cools.
Tips from Rita’s kitchen: Berry good for you!
Blackberries are great sources of fiber and vitamins. Don’t wash before freezing. Pour onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze hard. Pour into baggies and freeze. To use, place in a colander and run cool water over them. This will wash the berries and thaw them just a tiny bit, making them perfect for baked goods.
You can also use a mix of berries, like raspberries and blueberries along with the blackberries. Try adding a diced peach to the cobbler!
Remember that green bean salad I shared last week? Try adding a sprinkling of feta to it. – Wow!
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s 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]
[You know its August you break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30am, only to hear the trees whistling for the dogs.]
*YARDBOYS PLANTS TO PONDER – This week, let’s ponder perennial hibiscus also commonly known as Rose Mallow. It is found natively growing in wetland areas such as swamps and marshes. But even thought that’s where they’re best served, we have found they can be very tolerant of drier soils, and thus planted in our perennial gardens. So, they’ll grow in moist or drier loamy soils and in full sun to very light shade.
They’re bold perennials, some varieties getting as much a 6-8 feet tall, and the stems are very woody. Their leaves can range anywhere from 3-6 inches wide, and are regular or lobed into 3, 5, or 7 jagged finger like lobes. Granted the foliage is very attractive, but it’s the mid to late summer flowers that simply blow you away!
Perennial Hibiscus flowers range in size from 3 inches to the size of dinner plates, and come in a multitude of colors. For example, ‘Fantasia’ with its rosy pink flowers, ‘Blue River’ with its clear white flowers and red center, ‘Old Yella’ with its white flowers, ‘Lady Baltimore’ with her pink flowers and satiny red center, ‘Lord Baltimore’ with his vibrant red flowers, and ‘Kopper’ King with its maroon green foliage and pink flowers with a red eye. And one of my favorites is ‘Fireball’, with large outstanding purplish red flowers backed by its purple cut-leaf foliage. And they’re always loaded with enough flower buds to be flowering well into September.
Perennial hibiscus are very hardy, and even thought they are woody and get pretty good size in the garden, each spring, they’re cut back close to the ground, and a whole new plant comes back up for the growing season, giving your garden a great show with these outstanding flowers.
[-Money can buy a fine dog, but only love can make his tail wag.]
That’s it for this week. T minus 30 days and counting for Badger Football, Packer Football, and, well, most all of college football! Yee-haw! Now, do yourself a favor. Go out and have the best weekend of your life. Don’t forget to watch the Brickyard 400!