Gardening Daily Tips July 10

Sunday July 10, 2011


Phlox, Annual (Phlox drummondii)

Today’s Featured Plant
Phlox, Annual (Phlox drummondii)

Read the full profile of this plant at ArcaMax.com.

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Q&A: Bitter Cucumbers

Question: What makes cucumbers bitter?

Answer: In my experience cuccumbers are bitter if they are grown without enough water or in soil that is not rich enough or a combination of both. Usually, a moist but well drained (not soggy) soil amended with lots of organic matter and compost works the best along with a regular watering program and a good layer of mulch. Also, some varieties simply taste more bitter than others.

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Q&A: Rust On Hollyhocks

Question: I have on my hollyhocks red/orange spots on the undersides of the leaves. It is slowly killing off the leaves, but the plants are still flowering, although not well. What is it and how do I control it?

Answer: Rust disease is common on hollyhocks. Rust fungi are ever-present in the environment, just waiting for warm, humid conditions to favor their growth. The best deterrent is to grow your hollyhocks in a sunny place with good air circulation to help the leaf surfaces dry quickly, which helps minimize spread of the disease. Practice good sanitation by cleaning up old, dead stalks and leaves and destroy. Remove and destroy infected leaves as soon as you notice them. Many people grow hollyhocks as biennials; the plants grow foliage the first year, and flower the second season. By planting seeds each year you will get an annual show of flowers.

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Q&A: Fertilizing Container Plants

Question: We have planted a variety of vegetables and flowers in large clay pots on our patio. The plants were very healthy before being planted, but now the leaves look pale. What is wrong? Do they need fertilizer and, if so, what should I use?

Answer: Container plants need regular fertilizing, since their roots can’t travel through the garden soil in search of nutrients. Try fertilizing with fish emulsion- and seaweed-based fertilizer. These contain small quantities of highly available nitrogen which will help plants green up without stressing them. It’s also possible the plants have been stressed by drying out. Clay pots are porous and you need to be diligent with your watering to maintain consistent soil moisture. Check the soil with a finger; if the soil is dry down to your knuckle, then water. Also mulch the soil with bark chips or hay to conserve moisture.

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Tip: Train Climbing Roses

Climbing roses do not climb but lean, using their thorns to secure support. Help your climbers make a framework of upright canes with proper training. In the first years, allow the roses to produce long, sturdy canes, then begin shortening side shoots to two or three buds. In time, thin the plant by removing older, woody canes that bear few flowers, removing only one or two canes a year. Orient the shoots horizontally so they will produce flowers along their length, and leave room between branches for air circulation.

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Tip: Trim Back Perennial Herbs

Trim back mint, thyme, oregano and other perennial herbs that have already flowered, to encourage branching and new, tender growth.

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— From the ArcaMax editors

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Gardening Daily Tips July 9
Saturday July 9, 2011


Sage, Scarlet (Salvia splendens)

Today’s Featured Plant
Sage, Scarlet (Salvia splendens)

Read the full profile of this plant at ArcaMax.com.

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Q&A: Mulch and Termites

Question: Are there certain kinds of mulch that are better then others at NOT attracting termites?

Answer: There have been several studies made by universities throughout the U.S. with the general consensus being that termites will consume some bark mulches but tend to stay away from cypress chips. If the cedar mulch comes from heartwood, it, too, is somewhat resistant to termite feeding. Of course it’s difficult to tell how much heartwood might be included in any batch of cedar. If it were my landscape and termites were a problem, I think I’d opt for cypress chips or use rocks as mulch rather than cedar. Best wishes with your landscape!

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Q&A: Earwigs

Question: Are earwigs harmful to a garden? Other than being very ugly, should I treat my garden for these unsightly creatures?

Answer: Earwigs can, and do, feed on flower petals and leaves. They don’t do a great deal of damage to the average garden, but if you want to get rid of them, you can trap them. Earwigs like dark, damp places, so just fold a piece of newspaper and put it in the garden. Usually the nighttime or morning dew is enough to dampen the newspaper. Earwigs will crawl between the folds to hide. In the morning, pick up the paper and toss it on the compost pile, or into the trash can. You can also make a trap by using tuna or cat food cans, filling 1/3 with water, floating some vegetable oil on top, and placing the cans in the garden. The earwigs will be attracted to the oil, crawl into the cans and drown. Try it, it really works!

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Q&A: What is Greensand?

Question: What exactly is “greensand”?

Answer: Greensand, also known as glauconite, is a mineral deposit found on the ocean floor. Greensand supplies marine potash, silica, iron oxide, magnesia, lime, phosphoric acid, and 22 trace minerals. It works as a fertilizer and a soil amendment to help loosen clay soil.

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Tip: Divide Irises

Now is the time to lift and divide old clumps of bearded iris that are lagging behind in their blooming. Lift the clumps with a strong spading fork and divide. Keep the outermost rhizomes and discard the old, spent, center portion.

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Tip: Rejuvenate Annuals

If your annual flowers are looking leggy and blooming is reduced, rejuvenate them by trimming them back by about a third. Cut some stems right back to the base — they’ll sprout and fill out the center. Then give them a good dose of fertilizer.

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Today’s Reader Submitted Photos

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