Gardening Daily Tips July 19

Sunday July 19, 2011


Columbine (Aquilegia x hybrida)

Today’s Featured Plant
Columbine (Aquilegia x hybrida)

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

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Q&A: Citrus Trees

Question: My orange tree is in full bloum but a lot of leaves started to become yellow and curl. Is it a problem? What do I need to do? This is my first year having a citrus garden.

Answer: Although citrus trees are evergreen, they do lose some of their oldest leaves – those toward the center of the plant. The lost leaves will be replaced in a few weeks. So, if only the oldest leaves are yellowing, it is normal. If new leaves are yellowing it indicates a need for fertilizer (and possibly iron). Apply a citrus food in amounts as recommended on the fertilizer label. Hope you have a great harvest!

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Q&A: Stopping Stumps from Sprouting

Question: What is the best way to keep suckers from growing back on the stump of a maple tree? (The tree was cut down 1 1/2 years ago.)

Answer: The suckers indicate the roots of your maple are still alive, attempting to gather energy through the process of photosynthesis (where plant leaves convert sunlight into carbohydrates). As long as there’s an ounce of energy left, the roots will continue to produce suckers. Cut the shoots down as soon as they appear and before they develop leaves. Eventually you’ll starve the roots out; they will have expended all of their energy producing suckers. Without reciprocation from the process of photosynthesis, the roots will die out.

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Q&A: Cilantro Flowering

Question: This is the first time I have planted cilantro. I purchased the plants from a local nursery, and just days after planting them they started to flower. One of my fellow gardeners said to leave the flowers and the plant would start to bush out. Another gardener said to pinch the flowers off, and the plant would grow bushy. A third said that the plant is kaput, and to start new plants. Which one is correct? How can I get my cilantro plant to bush out?

Answer: It’s difficult to coax cilantro to grow tasty leaves once it flowers. Your best bet is to go with gardener number three: start new plants. Cilantro is an annual herb, a member of the parsley family. The seed is generally sown in cool spring temperatures for a summer crop, or as summer wanes for a fall crop. For good quality cilantro, harvest foliage prior to the formation of flowers. When the plant sets blossoms, foliage quality declines. Since yours has bloomed, you can leave the flowers on until the plant dies and then harvest the seeds (the seeds are the spice called coriander!). Grind the seeds to use in the kitchen, or save some to plant in August for a fall crop of cilantro.

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Tip: Experiment with Late Peas

Although not the easiest of fall crops to grow, peas are a welcome addition to the fall kitchen. Try both “regular” green peas as well as snow and snap peas. Sow seeds 70 to 90 days before the first frost date in your area. Cool the soil before planting by laying old carpet or boards on the soil for a week or so before planting. Plant seed 1 to 2 inches deep, mulch around seedlings, and water in the late afternoon on very hot days.

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Tip: Divide Daylilies

Once they’re done blooming, divide overcrowded daylilies. Dig up the clumps, separate them into smaller clumps with three or four leaf sections, and replant. Daylilies make a good ground cover for difficult-to-mow hillsides.

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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.

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Gardening Daily Tips
July 18
Monday July 18, 2011


Montbretia, Crocosmia (Crocosmia x)

Today’s Featured Plant
Montbretia, Crocosmia (Crocosmia x)

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

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Q&A: Colorado Blue Spruce Tree

Question: I bought a Colorado Blue Spruce this spring. I have it planted in full sun. It was doing fantastic but lately it has stopped new growth. The growth at the top is turning brown and dying. Also alot of the needles are falling off. It is not dead it still has green left on it. I know it is not from under watering. I water it alot. Am I watering it too much? Should I try fertilizing it?

Answer: Sometimes new trees and shrubs go through a stressful period of adjustment the first season it is planted so what you are seeing might be normal. While it is important to water regularly, new trees and shrubs need only about one inch of water per week during the growing season. If you’re watering more than once a week, the soil may be soggy and the roots can suffocate in overly wet soils. The best way to water your spruce is to build a watering well or watering basin beneath it by mounding a few inches of soil up in a circle, about 12″ from the trunk. Fill this basin with water, allow to drain, then fill it a second time. Do this once each week. Watering in this way will concentrate the moisture directly over the root system and allow it to trickle down, wetting the entire root mass. Don’t fertilize your spruce – it is already under stress and feeding will just stress it more. Feed it in the spring when new growth begins.

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Q&A: Potting Gerber Daisies

Question: Do Gerber daisies do well in pots/containers?

Answer: Yes, gerberas are good container plants because they do well in situations with good drainage. Gerberas thrive in full sun and rich soil with excellent drainage. To water, provide a thorough dousing and then allow the soil to dry before flooding again. The plants need frequent feeding during the growing season and will produce new leaves and flowers if the old leaves and flowers are pinched off regularly. You can bring them indoors to a brightly lit location for the winter, too.

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Q&A: Trimming Sweet Basil

Question: My sweet basil plants are about 10 to 15 inches tall–no flowers yet. Can I cut off the top of the stems to make the plants bushy, or do I have to wait for the first flower?

Answer: Actually, it is best to keep basil from flowering because, as an annual, once the plant flowers and sets seed it will go into decline. Usually gardeners encourage bushiness by a process called pinching. They begin literally pinching off or trimming off the growing tip(s) of the branches when the plants are quite small. (You can eat the pinchings!) They repeat this several times until the plants are as bushy as desired. When the plants become quite dense, some gardeners simply trim or shear them regularly and use the shearings in cooking. Other gardeners will cut off a larger proportion of the plant for harvest, especially if they plan to dry or freeze a quantity of basil all at one time. These more drastic harvests can be done just a few times a season as they are stressful on the plants and eventually the plants just “wear out”. In either case, the trimming prevents the plant from flowering and it regrows in order to try to flower. Since your plants are already quite tall, I would suggest cutting them back by about a third. This will give you a nice harvest and allow you to begin pinching as it grows back. When you do this, be sure the plant receives adequate water and nutrients to regenerate itself. Enjoy your basil!

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Tip: Grow Summer Lettuce

Having fresh, crisp, mild-flavored lettuce in the middle of summer is not an impossible task. First, choose heat-tolerant varieties. For looseleaf lettuce, try ‘Thai Green’. Good romaines include ‘Diamond Gem’, ‘Jericho’, and ‘Green Towers’. With butterheads, consider ‘Buttercrunch’, ‘Capitane’, ‘Cobham Green’, ‘Esmeralda’ and ‘Optima’. Provide afternoon shade or use shade cloth and mulch.

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Tip: Control Webworms and Tent Caterpillars

Fall webworms and tent caterpillars make nests in trees and shrubs. When you find the masses of webbing, cut them out or poke a hole in the webs and spray inside with a pesticide containing the biological control Bt.

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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

Click an image above to see full size and read caption.
To see more of our subscriber photos visit our full Photo Gallery.

Enter your Gardening Daily Tips pictures so you can show them off to other readers right here in this ezine and on the ArcaMax.com Web site. Click here to submit your photo.

Sincerely,
ArcaMax Editors

Gardening Daily Tips July 17

Tuesday July 17, 2011


Primrose, English (Primula vulgaris)

Today’s Featured Plant
Primrose, English (Primula vulgaris)

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

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Q&A: Rust on Hollyhocks

Question: What can we use to prevent rust disease on hollyhocks?

Answer: Hollyhock rust is a very common fungal disease. It begins with yellow or orange spots with red centers on the top side of the leaf, along with brown pin-head sized dots on the underside of the leaf. Eventually gray pustules form on the underside of the leaf, and all the spots run together, killing big areas of leaf tissue. Hollyhock rust overwinters on the basal leaves and old stems of the plant. In the fall, after killing frosts, remove and destroy the old leaves and stems. During the growing season you can remove and destroy infected leaves. Disturbing plants while the leaves are wet spreads the disease, so allow plants to dry before working around them. Other cultural practices that keep hollyhocks healthy include growing them in full sun, in rich moist soil and making sure they have good air circulation. Another tip is to grow them in the back of the garden with shorter plants in front of them to conceal the damage. Some gardeners grow them as biennials, starting new plants every year, and removing them after they flower in their second season. This keeps diseases from building up on older, weaker plants.

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Q&A: Problems Growing Onions

Question: I’m an experienced gardener but I always have trouble with onions. I start mine from sets. The greens grow really well above the soil but I just can’t get the bulbs to grow. What can I do?

Answer: Onions can sometimes be tricky to grow because they are photoperiodic plants, meaning they regulate their stages of growth by the duration of the light/dark cycle. An onion plant will make top growth until the critical light duration is reached; then it begins to form bulbs. The amount of growth and development prior to bulbing will determine the bulb size. You need to match the onion variety with your locale — there are “short-day” onions for southern areas, and “long-day” onions for northern regions.

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Q&A: Geranium Pointers

Question: I have a troubled variegated geranium. It seemed happy for a while, and sent up lots of new flower shoots. Once the flowers went by, I removed the spent blooms. However, lately the plant has begun yellowing all over. I repotted it in new container with new potting soil; I’ve also tried altering the water and/or light it receives. Should I have left the flower stalks on? Practically everyone in my neighborhood grows geraniums with little or no effort! What can I do for my poor plant?

Answer: Geraniums do best with full sun (a little afternoon shade in really hot summer areas), a little less than average watering, and minimal fertilizing. You were correct to remove the spent flowers–pruning them off was not the cause of the problems. It’s possible you are “killing it with kindness.” With too much water and/or too much fertilizing, geraniums quickly succumb to root and stem rots. Once they become infected, there is little you can do to stop the infection (including repotting in clean soil since the infection is in the plant’s system). I suggest giving the plant as much sun as possible, holding back on the water significantly (but not to the point of desert conditions), and cutting off any soft, mushy, brown-to-yellowish stems (dip your pruning shears in a 10 percent bleach solution between each cut). Hopefully, it’s not too late.

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Tip: Make More Flowers

Perennials that are capable of either reblooming or continuously flowering will be more likely to do so if they are cut back as the flowers fade, then fertilized, mulched, and watered. Try this with delphiniums, summer phlox, spiderwort, gaillardia, achillea, coreopsis, and salvias. Petunias and other annuals that are beginning to get a bit leggy and bedraggled also respond well to a trim and feeding.

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Tip: Vacation Lawn Care

Before leaving for a summer vacation, mow the lawn and water it well, if necessary. If you’ll be gone for more than one week, be sure to make arrangements to have someone cut it while you’re away so it doesn’t get overgrown, and water it if there’s a dry spell.

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Today’s Reader Submitted Photos

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To see more of our subscriber photos visit our full Photo Gallery.

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Gardening Daily Tips July 16
Saturday July 16, 2011


Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila elegans)

Today’s Featured Plant
Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila elegans)

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

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Q&A: When is Garlic Ready for Harvest

Question: How do I know when garlic is ready to harvest? My garlic is in full bloom?

Answer: When flower heads develop, cut them off. This forces more nutrients into the root to develop larger garlic cloves. When foliage begins to turn yellow and dry out later in summer, stop watering. Press any foliage over towards the ground. Let the foliage completely dry out and then dig the garlic. Clean the dirt off completely and let them continue drying if necessary, in a shaded location. Enjoy that garlic!

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Q&A: Successive Cropping

Question: I planted green beans early and have harvested a ton of beans. Should I pull these vines up and try to plant a second crop — or will they bloom and produce more beans if I let them go?

Answer: Sounds as though you’re enjoying a bumper crop of beans! Bean blossoms tend to fall off when the weather gets hot so production may begin to slow within the next few weeks. I’d harvest as long as the plant’s are willing to produce, then pull the plants up and sow seeds for a second crop. Beans usually take 10-14 days to germinate and about 60 days to produce, so you’ll have plenty of beans to harvest in the fall if you sow seeds around the first of August. Enjoy!

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Q&A: Fertilizing Roses

Question: I understand that roses need lots of fertilizer, but I have no idea what to use, how much, how often. What do you recommend?

Answer: You’re certainly right about how confusing the subject can be. But there are so many different kinds of fertilizers, different kinds of roses, and different kinds of gardeners. Start with this last point, the different kinds of gardeners: Most important is to find a product(s) that works for you, your schedule, and your habits. Your region is important too: Roses growing ten months of the year in the south or west will need more fertilizer than roses that only grow for three or four months in the north. Controlled-release fertilizers are the simplest to use. One or two applications and you’re set for the season. Organic fertilizers, such as an equal mix of alfalfa and cottonseed meals, are popular. Apply 10 cups of this mix around the base of each plant every 10 weeks, then cover it with mulch or compost. Many other organic fertilizers are available. Liquid-soluble fertilizers that dissolve in water are fast-acting but require the most frequent applications, sometimes as often as weekly. Whatever product you ultimately select, always apply fertilizer to moist but not soggy soil, and water after application. Start fertilizing in early spring about four weeks before spring growth begins. In cold winter regions, stop fertilizing in late summer.

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Tip: Try Conifers in Containers

Add year-round appeal to your home’s entrance or to a patio, deck, or terrace with container plantings of conifers, such as junipers, spruces, pines, firs, or arborvitae. You can use any type, be it mounding, bushy, columnar, or weeping, but the key to success is to choose conifers that are hardy to at least two zones colder than where you live. For instance, if you live in Zone 6, choose a conifer hardy to Zone 4

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Tip: Add Color with Containers

There’s still time to plant containers and hanging baskets with annual flowers. It’s an economical way to spruce up porches and patios, decks and doorways. Be especially diligent with watering — check new plantings frequently to make sure they don’t dry out.

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ArcaMax on Twitter and Facebook

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Sincerely,
The ArcaMax Editors

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Today’s Reader Submitted Photos

Click an image above to see full size and read caption.

To see more of our subscriber photos visit our full Photo Gallery.

Enter your Gardening Daily Tips pictures so you can show them off to other readers right here in this ezine and on the ArcaMax.com Web site. Click here to submit your photo.

Sincerely,
ArcaMax Editors

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