Gardening Daily Tips August 18

Thursday August 18, 2011

Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

Today’s Featured Plant
Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: Hot Peppers

Question: I have planted Habaneros, Fresno, Cayenne and Jalapeno peppers. When do I pick them and after picking, what are my options for keeping them? Do I have to dry them or will they “keep” for a while so that I can use them in the future. How would I store them if this is possible?

Answer: Peppers taste best if allowed to fully mature before harvesting. Habaneros are one of the hottest peppers around, especially if used dried. They will mature about 90 days after planting and should be a bright red when harvested. Fresno is a medium hot 4-inch long chile. Maturing in 75 days, Fresno will turn from green to red when mature. Cayenne is a dark green pepper that matures to bright red. It grows 4-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Jalapeno peppers are small, thick walled peppers that taste best green but will mature to red. All peppers will keep for several days to a few weeks if stored in the refrigerator. You can use them fresh, or as part of a salsa that you freeze or can. If you want longer storage times, the peppers should be dried and stored in airtight containers. Dried peppers have an intense taste, so use them sparingly until you can predict how hot the finished product will be.

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Q&A: Christmas Cactus

Question: What is the secret to getting a Christmas Cactus to rebloom?

Answer: Christmas Cactus is a tropical plant that requires a highly organic soil mixture and lots of moisture. The plant likes bright light and average household temperatures. You can take your Christmas Cactus outdoors during the summer and fertilize it monthly with a diluted houseplant food. Then bring it back indoors at the end of September and provide total darkness for 16 hours each day so the plant can set flower buds. The easiest way to accomplish this is to place it in a bright room for 8 hours and then either put a box over it, or put it in a closet for 16 hours. It needs absolute darkness; even a short burst of daylight will retard the formation of flower buds. During this bud forcing period, keep the temperature between 60F and 70F, and do not fertilize the plant. In early December your Christmas Cactus can be brought into ordinary light and will bloom in a few weeks.

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Q&A: Pruning Miniature Roses

Question: How do I prune or deadhead miniature roses in order to keep them blooming abundantly?

Answer: As soon as the blossoms have faded, clip them off just below the flower with a pruning shear or scissors. This will keep the plants looking their best and encourage them to send energy into producing more flowers this summer. In regions with very hot summers, roses may take a break in midsummer because of the heat, but start flowering again in fall. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful blooms.

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Tip: Watch for Armyworms

Early detection of fall armyworm infestations is essential, so keep a close watch for these large caterpillars named for their habit of marching in troops and devouring everything in their path. The fall armyworm relishes a wide variety of garden vegetables, such as corn, beans, cabbage, and tomato, and can polish off a lawn in a single night

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Tip: Pick Up Fallen Fruit

Decaying fruits and vegetables are an open invitation to insect pests so pick up fallen fruit or overripe produce and add to the compost pile.

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