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July Garden Issues - July 10th, 2018

JULY ISSUES

July brings with it lots of issues for the garden.  One thing we have to deal with is the heat.  At this point, with about one third of July gone we are already in the mid-teens in the number of days the temperature has exceeded 90 degrees this summer.  As a general rule most vegetables don’t mind hot weather.

The problem arises when people misinterpret what happens to a plant in hot weather.  When many gardeners see their tomatoes flopped in mid-afternoon their first thought is to grab a hose and give the plants a good dose of water.  In fact, the plants likely do not need water at all.  Flopping is nature's way of protecting the plant from the heat. Go back out about nine o'clock at night and the leaves have come out of the flop and the plants look great. This is true of other plants as well.

This year we have had nice rains most of the growing season gardens planted in the ground have not needed to be watered.  Raised beds and containers have needed extra water.  I looked at a large garden last night that was beautiful.  It starts with almost 100 tomato plants, several rows of various types of beans, a long row of peppers, several rows of corn, cukes and melons all of which look great.  Some disease caused mostly by the rain standing on the leaves.  The point is that all the water this garden has received was furnished by Mother Nature.  It has not been irrigated at all.

Even in dry years this particular garden receives no water except that provided by rainfall.  It is one of the most productive gardens year in and year out that I know of.  My opinion, for what it is worth, is that most gardens planted in the ground would be more productive if people watered little or none and cut their fertilizer use by half.

Plants don’t flower and set fruit when they are growing.  Excess water and fertilizer produce beautiful plants but usually very little produce. In the garden I talked about above, the tomato plants are only waist to chest high but hanging with large tomatoes. My guess is that the plants will produce 30 to 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant.

Also, a last point is that this garden is bothered very little with garden pests.  Healthy plants have very few pest problems.  The beneficial insects far out-number the pests in the garden.  Spiders do a great job on controlling a lot of pests. Birds and bats clean out a lot of bugs.  A bad crop of beetles or potato bugs can be controlled with a light application of Sevin.

Enjoy your garden, work with Mother Nature and things will work out just fine.  One of the best ways I know to not stress over the garden is to leave the garden alone.  If you don’t have something to do in the garden don’t go check on it.

HAPPY GARDENING

P. S. Let me know how some of the advice I give works out for you.  I would like to hear what is working for you.

 
Deer O Deer - June 12th, 2018

DEER O DEER

I thought that was a cute way to begin.  We hear so much about the problems people have with deer.  Recently, I have seen a number of posts with pictures on Facebook of deer in yards. Pictures of deer strolling along the street in broad daylight doing no harm.  Just out for a stroll.

In my own case I have looked out the window about midnight, four nights in a row, to see deer grazing in my yard.  I have not seen any damage they have done to my plants.  I haven't tried to scare them away.  Just taken a kind of live and let live attitude.

I don’t think they do as much damage as they get blamed for. There are other animals that damage our plants and deer get the blame.  Rabbits, squirrels, racoons just to name a few.  Damage down close to the ground is likely not a deer.  Taller plants and plants with the top eaten out is probably deer.  Regardless, we don’t want our plants destroyed by wildlife.  I understand that.

When we were running the garden center I always thought it was funny to hear people complain about deer problems.  First, they always seemed to think the deer picked on them exclusively.  No one else had a deer problem.  If they said they had four in their yard last night and I said I just had a customer left the store that had six in their yard.  With the next breath the ones in their yard had grown to eight.  I always wondered how they multiplied that fast.

Let me say here that generally what will keep one animal away will keep most if not all animals away.  Plants that one animal will eat most animals will eat.  So as a general what works for one works for all.  Nothing seems to work all the time.  Wish I could give you a hard and fast rule.

In my case, I spray plants that I really want to protect with Deer Off every three months.  Ones that I am not too concerned about I leave alone.  They get nipped sometimes but usually not enough to worry about.  I will point out here that Deer Off does not have edible plants on the label.  However, the cost of testing and putting edible plants on the label was so expensive that the Company that produces Deer Off made the decision not to put edibles on the label.

Animals generally do not eat plants with a fragrance.  Very few herbs are subject to being damaged by animals.  They also suffer very little insect damage.  White flowers are very seldom bothered by animals.  Why, most white flowers have anywhere from slight to overpowering fragrances.  Fragrant roses have less damage than non-fragrant roses.

Mixing herbs and highly fragrant flowers such as marigolds in plantings of edibles or flower beds can help animals away.  I have containers of vegetables and flowers on my deck.  I usually stick a marigold in all the planters because I have a problem with squirrels. So far it has worked.

Animals have tastes just like we do.  What they eat tonight they may walk right by tomorrow night.  What they don’t eat in your neighbor's yard, they may totally destroy in your yard.  Just Mother Nature.

So' I would say don’t let the deer or other animal decide what you are going to plant.  Plant what you like where you like it.  Use a little common-sense and the damage will be little or none.  I use pesticides where needed. If you make the decision to use them read the label.  I have found they rarely work for people that don’t read the label.

REMEMBER IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE ADDRESSED LET'S KNOW.

 

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Plant of the Week - Crepe Myrtle

Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle

  • Colorful and long-lasting flowers
  • Colors vary from deep purple to red to white, with almost every shade in-between
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