Gardening Daily Tips June 27

Monday June 27, 2011

Blazing Star, Gayfeather (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’)

Today’s Featured Plant
Blazing Star, Gayfeather (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Squash

Question: When is the best time of day to water squash since the blooms only last one day. I noticed that the blooms close at night and does early morning watering wash off the bee polination?

Answer: You can water in the morning. If possible, keep the water on the soil and not on the plants themselves. It’s not so much a problem with rinsing off the pollen as it is subjecting your plants to possible fungal diseases from leaves that remain wet for extended periods of time. Watering in the morning will give the plants a chance to dry out before nightfall. Best wishes with your squash!

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Q&A: Controlling Cabbage Loopers

Question: Every year I have problems with cabbage loopers on my cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Any suggestions on getting rid of them?

Answer: The best way to protect plants from cabbage loopers and cabbageworms — the larvae of two different moths — is to exclude the moths by using fabric row covers. You can also treat the loopers with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). For best results, treat the plants while the caterpillars are still young. The older and larger they get, the more resilient they become. Use Bt sparingly, however, because it is toxic to all caterpillars, including the larvae of your favorite butterflies.

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Q&A: Extracting Pyrethrum from Mums

Question: I have several pyrethrum daisies. I know that pyrethrum is an insecticide. How can I use the plants to control insect pests?

Answer: You are correct that pyrethrum is a botanical insecticide derived from the flowers of pyrethrum daisies. It’s possible to dry the flowers, then grind them into a fine dust to use on flowers, or to use alcohol to create a liquid extract. Since the active chemical is toxic it is important to keep it away from children and pets. Also, don’t use your regular kitchen equipment to prepare the spray or dust. Finally, it’s impossible to give dilution rates since homemade concoctions will vary widely in strength. Why not eliminate the guesswork and use a commercially prepared, pyrethrum-based insecticide?

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Tip: Prevent Tall Containers from Tipping

To prevent tall container-grown plants from tipping over on blustery days, use a length of rebar to secure the pot. In most cases a 3 or 4-foot long rod will suffice, with half its length driven into the ground and the other half above the soil level. If not yet planted, move the container where you want it and pound the rebar through the drainage hole and into the ground below. Otherwise, drive the rebar in place first, then have a friend help you lift the pot and push the metal stake up through the hole. Be careful not to obstruct drainage, however. (And be sure to locate any underground electrical or cable lines before you begin.)

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Tip: Mow Frequently

For the lushest and most weed-free lawn, mow frequently, removing no more than one-third of the leaf blade at each mowing. This technique produces a thick turf that crowds out weeds.

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