Gardening Daily Tips July 13

Wednesday July 13, 2011

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Today’s Featured Plant
Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Watering a Vegetable Garden

Question: I have a garden with squash, cucumbers, tomatos,green beans and okra. How often should I be watering?

Answer: How often you should water depends on how often it rains, how long your soil retains moisture, and how fast water evaporates in your climate. Soil type is another important factor. Clay soils hold water very well — sometimes too well. Sandy soils are like a sieve, letting the water run right through. Both kinds of soil can be improved with the addition of organic matter. Organic matter gives clay soils lightness and air; it gives sandy soils something to hold the water. So much depends on climate and the ability of different soil types to hold moisture that it’s difficult to give specific directions for watering your garden. Generally, however, vegetable plants need about an inch of water a week. The best time to water your garden is in the morning. If you water at night when the day is cooling off, the water is likely to stay on the foliage, increasing the danger of disease. When watering your vegetable garden, there is one rule you should follow: Always soak the soil thoroughly. A light sprinkling can often do more harm than no water at all: It stimulates the roots to come to the surface, where they are killed by exposure to the sun. One way to determine when to irrigate is to take a soil core sample from the plant root zone and squeeze it into a ball. If the ball holds together in the palm of your hand, the soil has sufficient water. If it crumbles, apply water. At the crumble-stage, the average soil will hold 1 inch of water per foot. If this water is applied with a sprinkler, determine its delivery by placing three or four cans under the sprinkler pattern to see how long it takes to accumulate an inch of water. Best wishes with your garden.

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Q&A: Crab Apple Tree Suckers

Question: Should we cut off the suckers that are sprouting around the base of our crab apple tree? Do these suckers mean that something is wrong with the tree?

Answer: Suckers should be removed, and the best way to do this is to tug them off. If they are too large for that, cut them as close as possible to their origin. Also rub off any little sprouts along the trunk of the tree. Some rootstocks are more prone to suckering than others, and in some cases, a rootstock will sucker as an indication that the graft is imperfect or that there is some other problem at the top of the tree. As long as the tree seems to be healthy and growing well, don’t worry.

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Q&A: When to Release Beneficial Bugs

Question: When is the appropriate time to purchase and release ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings?

Answer: If you’re purchasing predacious insects to help balance the population of destructive insects in your garden, you need to wait until there are enough bad guys out there to provide enough food for the good guys. If you release ladybugs and lacewings and they find nothing to eat, they’ll just fly away to another, more promising garden. Wait to purchase and release the insects until you’re sure you have aphids and caterpillars chomping on the leaves of your plants. You can attract beneficials to your garden by planting flowers, especially members of the daisy family, umbel-shaped flowers, such as dill and parsley, and yarrow.

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Tip: Plant Extra Containers for Instant Color

Plant some extra flowering containers periodically for backup color. When one starts looking spent you can just move another into its place and replant the old one or take it back behind the garage to the plant hospital for recuperation! Color containers provide a versatile addition to the landscape.

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Tip: Prevent Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is a problem on tomatoes that don’t receive a consistant supply of water. Prevent it by mulching plants and supplying enough water to keep soil evenly moist.

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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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