Gardening Daily Tips July 28

Thursday July 28, 2011


Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Today’s Featured Plant
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

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

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Q&A: Flowers but No Pumpkins

Question: My 4 yr old planted pumpkins that can be 200 lbs and he is very excited about them. It’s almost August and the vine has just started getting flowers is he going to get any pumpkins or is it to late in the season? When would they be harvested?

Answer: Pumpkins are harvested after frost kills the vines back. If you don’t have small pumpkins already on the vine, your chances of getting a harvestable crop are pretty slim. Pumpkins really need hot weather to produce well. They also need all day sunshine and plenty of water. You can sometimes help things along by laying black plastic over the soil before planting your pumpkins. Black plastic helps absorb and radiate heat down into the root zone, which helps the plants perform well. I hope your son gets to harvest a pumpkin this year! If not, try a smaller variety of pumpkin next year. Good luck!

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Q&A: Removing Fallen Cherries

Question: I have 2 cherry trees on my property that are quite productive each year. However, most of the cherries are never picked and ultimatly find themselves on my lawn. Last year I spent a lot of time each day picking the cherries off the lawn with the assumption that rotting cherries might not be good for the grass. Is this really necessary? Will the rotting cherries hurt the lawn?

Answer: Cleaning up the fallen fruit is really important, so keep up the good work! If you allow the fallen fruit to remain, it can harbor insect and disease problems that can affect the cherries in subsequent years. One trick you can try to make this task easier: lay a fine-mesh net under the tree to collect the fallen fruit. Pull it up every day or two and discard the cherries, then lay it back in place. Also, you may have neighbors who would love to help you pick those extra cherries.

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Q&A: Using Grass Clippings as Mulch

Question: Is it all right to use grass clippings from the lawn mower as mulch in the garden?

Answer: Grass clipping make a fine mulch. Just make sure the turf was not treated with a broadleaf weed control product as this can damage some sensitive garden plants. Also, don’t apply fresh clippings in too thick a layer or they may rot and produce a foul smell. Instead, add thin layers every few days, allowing each layer to dry before adding another. Remember, however, that those grass clippings could be fertilzing your lawn as well, if you mow frequently and use a mulching mower.

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Tip: Mound Soil Around Carrots

If the tops of your carrots are exposed to sunlight while growing, they will develop green shoulders. The green gives carrots a bitter taste. Mulch carrots with soil to keep the roots covered at all times.

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Tip: Keep an Eye on Water Needs

Make sure plants are getting enough water. Frequent light rains do not penetrate the soil to the full root depth. Dig down to check moisture levels and water if necessary. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are useful for applying water slowly so it soaks in.

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Sincerely,
The ArcaMax Editors

Gardening Daily Tips July 27
Wednesday July 27, 2011


Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Today’s Featured Plant
Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

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

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Q&A: Harvest Size for Peppers

Question: How many inches should a typical jalapeno pepper and cayenne pepper be before I can pick them?

Answer: Average mature size for a jalapeno would be about 3 inches, a cayenne type would probably be in the 6 inch range or more depending on the variety. Average time to harvest for these types is about 70 to 75 days. (Your seed packets or labels should also tell you this information for your specific variety.) However, you can always pick a few for fresh use as soon as they are large enough to suit you — try one and see! Enjoy your peppers!

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Q&A: Salt for Weed Control in Asparagus Bed

Question: Someone once told me that I can use salt in my asparagus bed to keep down weeds. Is this true, and if so how much salt should I use?

Answer: Although in the past salt was used to manage weeds, this method is no longer recommended. Asparagus is more salt-tolerant than most weeds, so adding salt to beds would kill weeds without killing the asparagus. However, it is now known that added salt tends to seal the soil surface, inhibiting water penetration, and may also damage soil structure (the way soil particles are clumped into aggregates). Salt can also leach laterally through the soil, possibly damaging nearby plants. Keep your bed weeded the old fashioned way, by pulling as needed and then keeping the bed well mulched. An organic mulch applied annually will also feed the soil.

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Q&A: Orchid Leaves Turn Black

Question: The new leaves on my orchids turn black and mushy when they are about 6 inches long. I have had cymbidiums a long time and never had this problem. What is wrong?

Answer: There are two fungal diseases that can cause the symptoms you describe; black rot and bacterial soft rot. Black rot (caused by a fungus, Phytophthora) attacks the leaves, pseudobulbs, and roots of orchids, causing them to turn black. You can cut out the damaged portion of the pseudobulb and remove the affected leaves to stop the spread of the disease. Be sure to isolate the sick plants so the disease doesn’t spread to the healthy ones. Bacterial soft rot symptoms begin with amber-colored spots on the bases of the affected leaves. These turn brown and spread very rapidly, eventually becoming a chestnut brown and then black as the disease progresses. Sometimes it’s best to discard diseased plants rather than risk the spread to other plants. Orchids thrive in average household temperatures, bright light (10 to 15 hours each day), and moist soil. They require moist air, so put the pots on a tray filled with pebbles in which you keep a half-inch of water. Mist the leaves occasionally, too. Orchids don’t like cold drafts or direct sunlight. If you’re meeting all of these cultural requirements and the plants continue to show signs of disease, you may want to toss out the affected plants and start all over with new plants, sterilized pots and fresh potting soil.

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Tip: Repel Slugs and Snails with Coffee Grounds

Save those coffee grounds! Yet another reason to save your morning coffee grounds. Caffeine can repel or kill snails that might otherwise eat and ruin plants. An environmentally acceptable, natural compound, caffeine has great potential as an alternative to today’s snail-and slug-killing chemicals.

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Tip: Harvest Garlic

Harvest garlic when about 40 percent of the leaves have browned. Dig the bulbs gently and let dry in a breezy, shady spot for 2 weeks.

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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

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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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