Gardening Daily Tips July 6

Wednesday July 6, 2011

Canna (Canna x generalis)

Today’s Featured Plant
Canna (Canna x generalis)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: When to Pick Watermelons

Question: My watermelons are getting big and my mouth is watering! How do I know when to pick them so they are at their sweetest?

Answer: Many of us have heard that we should thump on our watermelons to tell if they’re ripe. Supposedly a dull, hollow sound rather than a ringing tone indicates a melon ready to pick. The trouble is that the difference between “dull” and “ringing” isn’t always clear. Instead look for these clues that your watermelon is at its peak of ripeness. The curly tendrils on the stem near where it attaches to the fruit should have changed from light green to dry and brown. The spot on the bottom of the melon where it rested on the ground should be yellow, not light green or white. And the skin should have turned dull and be tough enough that its hard to dent with a thumbnail.

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Q&A: Picking Beans

Question: When picking bush beans, should you pick every bean off the plants or pick only the ready beans, and a couple of days later, go over the plants again?

Answer: If you don’t mind visiting the garden every few days, go ahead and pick the mature beans, and let the small ones grow larger. There’s no harm in picking the small ones — you just get a smaller crop. Bush beans tend to mature over a shorter period than pole beans, so if you want to pick beans over a longer period, consider planting a few pole bean plants.

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Q&A: Shearing Back Mums

Question: It is now the beginning of July and our chrysanthemums are already flowering. I recently read that I was supposed to cut them back to 6 inches in July. Now that they are flowering is it too late to cut them back? I would like to have flowers this fall.

Answer: Many gardeners pinch back or shear off their mums every few weeks starting in early spring and continuing up until about the fourth of July. This forces the plants to become thick and bushy and also delays flowering until the fall. Since yours are already flowering, I would enjoy the blooms. You may be able to get a second flowering from your mums if you pick the flowers for bouquets and then cut the plants back by about a third, but do it right away so they have the maximum amount of time to regrow and set buds. Then, make sure they receive adequate moisture and nutrients for the rest of the summer and do not pinch them. With luck they may bloom again but very late this fall. Good luck with your mums!

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Tip: Okra is Okay!

July Some call it nasty and sticky, while others love it fried and stewed, but love it or hate it, okra is in season. Pick frequently while the pods are small, keep the plants watered and fertilize only lightly once the plants are producing. Leaf miners may show up on lower leaves. Pick them off as soon as you see the affected leaves and throw them away. If you see ants climbing the okra stems, they are farming aphids. Look for them on the pods or flowers and blast them off with a strong stream of water.

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Tip: Encourage Roses to Rebloom

Prune off faded flowers off reblooming rose varieties and apply fertilizer to encourage more blooms. Avoid fertilizing after early fall so the plant will enter dormancy on time.

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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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