Gardening Daily Tips July 3

Sunday July 3, 2011

Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

Today’s Featured Plant
Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Established eggplant plant

Question: My eggplant has been getting flowers for a couple of months now but there are no eggplant growing. What can I do? Do they require a special fertilizer? I also have the same problem with my cantaloupes.

Answer: When an eggplant has flowers but no fruit, this is due to one of two issues. The first thing that can cause eggplant flowers to fall off is a lack of water and the other is a lack of pollination. When an eggplant plant is stressed, its blossoms will dry up and drop off without producing fruit. The most common reason a eggplant gets stressed is due to a lack of water. Your eggplant needs at least 2” of water a week, more in very hot weather. The majority of that water should be gotten in one watering so that the water goes deeper into the ground and is less likely to evaporate quickly. Deep watering also encourages the eggplant to grow deep roots, which helps it to find water deeper in the ground and even out its water needs so it will be less likely to drop a single eggplant flower. An eggplant flower is normally wind pollinated, meaning it does not rely on insects like bees and moths to pollinate it. A pollination problem can occur when the weather conditions are very wet or very humid or are very hot. When the air is very humid, this causes the pollen eggplant flower to become very sticky and it cannot fall down onto the pistil to pollinate the flower. When the weather is very hot, the pollen becomes inactive because the plant thinks that it cannot support the stress of an additional fruit along with the hot weather. In a sense, the plant aborts the blossom so as not to stress itself further. If you suspect your eggplant flowers fall off due to a lack of pollination, then you can hand pollinate. All you need to do is take a small, clean paintbrush and move this around the inside of the eggplant flower. Same goes for your cantaloupes.

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Q&A: Edging Flower Beds

Question: Is there a tool or machine I could rent or buy that would dig a trough between my yard and flower beds? I’ve seen very straight neat barriers in others yards and it doesn’t look like it was done by hand. I also don’t want to dig by hand. I don’t know what to ask for at a store or rental place.

Answer: Edging can be a lot of work, especially if your soil is dense and compacted, and the sod very tough, so I don’t blame you for not wanting to do it by hand! The tool you’re looking for is a lawn edger. Some edgers are simple and small, such as those that attach to small garden tillers, or you can get specialized lawn edgers from rental outlets. Once you have created the clean edge, you can install edging material that creates a barrier between your lawn and flower beds.

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Q&A: Do Climbing Plants Damage Siding?

Question: The front of my brick home is very plain and faces eastward. I would like to liven it up by planting a climbing perennial. I’ve recently heard that a study showed that ivies are no longer considered a threat to the brick and mortar. Is that true?

Answer: Yes, research has shown that ivies and peennial vines that cling to brick or wood with sticky pads do not cause damage. In some cases dampness can be a problem, especially with wood siding, if the vine holds a good deal of moisture against the wall. Since your exposure is east, the morning sun should dry things out enough to prevent problems. To be on the safe side, though, you might consider erecting a trellis and planting a vine that climbs by twining.

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Tip: Ants and Aphids

Ants crawling on garden plants are often a sign that aphids are present. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant, and even taking them underground into the anthill for overnight safety. The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary substance secreted by the aphids, on which the ants feed. Discourage aphids by hosing them off your plants with a strong steam of water. Ants will probably move on when there are no more aphids to herd.

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Tip: Leave Grass Clippings

Leave grass clippings on the lawn after mowing, and you’ll provide about one-third the nitrogen the grass needs to flourish — and it won’t cost you anything! Rake up any thick clumps and compost them.

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80 Comic Strips Now Available by Email!

ArcaMax has added dozens of new comic strips to its Comics page, including Archie, Hi and Lois, and 77 others. Subscribe to as many as you like via email, and start your day with a laugh!

Visit the Comics page and subscribe or read online right away.

— From the ArcaMax editors

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Today’s Reader Submitted Photos

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