Gardening Daily Tips June 22

For Hoang Kim
Wednesday June 22, 2011

Spirea, Bridalwreath (Spiraea prunifolia)

Today’s Featured Plant
Spirea, Bridalwreath (Spiraea prunifolia)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: When to Harvest Winter Squash

Question: We raised a lot of winter squash successfully last year, but when we harvested them, some were really good eating and some were not. We did not know when to pick them – or at what point they would be ready to eat, or, how long to store them before eating them. Thank you!!

Answer: For winter squash, harvesting occurs once the squash reached its mature size and full color. At this point, the vine tendril opposite the fruit will be now positioned opposite it and will also be brown and shriveled. Another sign of maturity is the squashes’ skins hardening. Gently push your fingernail against the skin – if it is hard, the squash is mature. Carefully cut your squash from the vines, leaving two inches of stem attached if possible. Avoid cutting and bruising fruit. Store your squash in a cool, dry place such as a (temps should be between 50 and 55 degrees. F for storage).

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Q&A: Root Crops

Question: I seem to have a problem growing root crops such as beets and carrots in my garden. Everything else grows fine. Any suggestions?

Answer: Root crops need a deep, loose, well-drained soil to grow well. Is the soil in your garden compacted, or heavy and blocky? If so, work in some organic matter. As organic matter decays, it releases compounds that make soil more “workable,” as well as promoting good moisture retention and providing nutrients to plants. You may find that building a raised bed makes a difference for your root crops, since they’ll have a looser soil to grow in. As long as you thin the seedlings and water your crop regularly throughout the growing season. Another thing that comes to mind is fertilization. If you feed root crops too much nitrogen, they’ll produce a lot of top growth and little in the way of roots. Have your soil tested to see if you need to balance your soil’s nutrients — that may make the difference. Good luck!

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Q&A: Attracting Ladybugs

Question: I would love to have some ladybugs and other helpful insects to aid in pollination and pest control….how do I attract them? Should I buy some?

Answer: Beneficial insects will arrive like magic if there are insects to eat. The best way to attract them is not to use any pesticides. You can also purchase beneficial insects to release but unless there is a food supply for them to eat they won’t stay around very long!

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Tip: Deadhead Perennials

Deadhead perennials as needed to keep them blooming as long as possible. Many will rebloom if deadheaded regularly. Some perennials such as coreopsis and geraniums benefit from a shearing back once the spring flush is finished. Use hedge shears and cut plants back by half. They will make attractive new foliage with sporadic blossoms the rest of the summer.

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Tip: Watch the Lawn for Signs of Thirst

One symptom that your lawn needs water is when your footprints remain in the grass an hour after you’ve walked across it. Also, the color of the turf changes from green to a bluish gray.

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Submit Your Favorite Photos

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