Overcast or is the smoke from the fires that is clouding the sky???? Some are having a hard time breathing which seems so unreal when we are outside in the summer. Hope this clears up soon. We like many need rain, and so far today haven’t received any. Hope we do, looks like on the map we should. Humidity is down. Temperature is only 72 so a big difference from earlier this week. Enjoy it all.
I have been checking over my plants and noticed that some of my non stop begonias were not blooming the double blooms. So I took care of all the single blooms as I knew this was why the doubles were not blooming. You see those single blooms are the female and the plant wants to survive so it will produce a seed pod which is on the back of that single bloom. You need to fool the plant to produce all more blooms. Here is my technical about deadheading non stop begonias.
How to Deadhead a Tuberous Begonia Written by Anubhav Kapoor
A begonia is among the most preferred of household flowering plants. It has an exotic flower bloom that adds to the aesthetic appeal of the garden. Most gardeners prefer the tuberous begonia variety, as they are the easiest to maintain and need little care.
Of course, all varieties need basic care, such as a well-shaded location to grow, easy-to-drain soil, and protection from harsh winds. In terms of nutrition, most have to be fed plant food every two weeks. However, there is one demanding feature of growing the tuberous variety: they need constant deadheading.
Step 1 - Understand Deadheading
Deadheading is the process of removing worn-off, aged flowers and foliage from the plant. It will help the flower bloom faster, producing a thicker, all-season foliage. It also helps prevent the development of seed pods that can hamper the plant vigor.
As a general practice, old flowers, male or female, are constantly deadheaded to rid the plant of dead or decaying pieces. The fewer decaying flowers attached to the main plant, the lesser the chances of the plant being infected with fungal diseases.
To deadhead your tuberous begonias, pinch the faded bloom from the stem with your thumb and fingers, squeezing the stem just behind the bloom.
Inspect your plant daily and remove blooms that have begun to fade. Signs of fading include faded color, brown spots, and shriveled, or withered, appearance.
There is no specific time for deadheading the begonia. You should start as soon as some of the new shoots start to show and you can clearly see three nodes on each plant stem. Nodes are the small joint-like structures in the stem where the leaves seem stuck to the stem.
Step 2 - Disbud Begonias
Disbudding sounds a lot like deadheading, but it is actually a different practice. While deadheading is removing a spent flower, disbudding concerns removing a not yet bloomed bud.
Why would you want to remove a healthy flower bud? Well, because tuberous begonias grow their flowers in clumps of three, two females and one male. The female flowers will be small, probably with only four petals, growing on either side of the male. The male flower will be large and vibrant, perhaps with multiple ruffled rows of petals. So, before they bloom, gently pluck off the two smaller female buds.
By doing so, the plant will put all its energy into the full male bloom, which will be much more vibrant and beautiful as a result.
Step 3 - Pinch Begonias
Pinching is the process of carefully removing the growing tips of the begonia plant. This forces the plant to grow more side shoots and stimulates growth of more branches. Pinching is a technique best used for small to medium-sized begonias, especially those grown in a basket. Large thick begonias with large flowers may not benefit from pinching, and may develop ugly scarring.
Pinching does slowdown blooming, but this is a temporary effect. Eventually, it will lead to denser blooming.
Each tip of the stem has to be patiently pinched-off. Firmly grab the growing tip between your forefinger and your thumb. Your grasp should be just below the new leaf bud. Using your fingernails, pinch the stem in one quick movement, i.e. breaking-off the stem.
You should carefully pick-out the smaller begonia blooms for pinching, as they are close to the larger blooms that shouldn't be harmed.
Note: The growing tip is the plant’s unopened bud at the very tip of each stem. It is where the new leaf is supposed to emerge. It should be completely removed, or malformed leaves will develop.
Step 4 - Pluck Begonias
Now that you have pinched the stems, you might want to make the deadheading more effective, i.e. complete it with a bit of plucking.
Choose some of the pinched stems for plucking. (Remember, not all the stems have to be plucked. Approximately two out of five begonia stems should be plucked.) Follow the chosen stems, right to their base. Pluck or snap off these stems with a firm downward movement.
You should try not to use pruners or shears for this, as they can damage the surrounding branches.
Taken from https://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-deadhead-a-begonia
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365
image from truleafmarket.com
Sunny, still warm, but the humidity is to go down this afternoon. Here is Dougherty we didn’t get rain. I know there was some in the area. Hope you were one of them. I watered this morning and all were very dry.
I had the question asked when should I pick my cucumbers? I guess I would just pick them and not realize when or if it was the right time. Here is some information on that.
When to Harvest Cucumbers? The Right Time You Need To Know
How much do you know about cucumbers? Most people don't think much about this plant. Well, not unless you learn its healthful benefits. Cucumbers are popular warm, tender-season vegetables that bloom providing that proper care is given to them.
The plants need frequent watering during the growing season, and they have shallow roots. Besides, they are quick to grow, which is why regular harvesting is essential to prevent it from turning into yellow.
Lots of hard work goes into a productive vegetable garden, which includes preparation of the area, watering and weeding. Don't let all your effort go down the drain by inaccurately timing your harvest! Reap a successful harvest by knowing when to pick cucumbers.
So, When To Harvest Cucumbers?
It may be hard for some gardeners, in particular for the novice ones, to determine exactly when to harvest cucumbers. There are a few visual signs and scales that will tell you the right time. And these signs are as follow:
Right in Size
Not like other fruits, cucumbers stop to mature after picking. The fruits require an extended growing period and are ready to pick in fifty to seventy days. If you harvest ripe cucumbers at the exact time, rest assured that it will only give your throat a sweet taste.Harvest the fruit when you know it is already right in size (which is typically 8 to 10 days after the earliest female flowers open.
Color and Firmness
You'll also know a cucumber is ready to harvest by its color, firmness, and size. When planting the vines, ensure to read the seed pack or plant label. It must consist of a precise measurement of how long the vegetables will get. Also, the seed pack or plant tag will indicate the number of days you can pick the cucumber after germination.The climate condition also affects the vegetables' growth rates, so you may find the harvesting period not exact. When you softly squeeze the cucumber, it must give you a firm touch, plus the color should be a good medium to dark green. The color depends on the type of variety you're growing. A yellowish or white shade may occur to some cultivars.
It is best to pick the cucumbers as early and often as possible, so the vine will be encouraged to produce longer during the season. Do not allow the vegetables to become over ripe. Also, do not leave it on the vine for a longer period; otherwise it will develop a harsh taste. The cucumbers become fully matured at different times on the vine; hence it is important to harvest them as they're ready.
For those who are asking when to harvest cucumbers prickly for making gherkins or sweet pickles, they must be 2 to 6 inches long.Dill pickles are best to harvest when they're already three to four inches long. Burpless varieties are ideal for picking at 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter, while the slicing cucumbers should be harvested if it's already 6 inches, depending on the variety.
You are likely to pick the fruits every day or two in the peak of the season. It is suggested to harvest it early in the morning when the vines are still cool.Now that you know the visual signs and scales of accurately picking the cucumbers, the next concern that may be arising into your mind is how to harvest the fruits.
As mentioned above, it is ideal to check the fruits and harvest them in the morning. But in off-peak season, pick them every other day, so they will not get too ripe or too large.
Those fruits that are past their maturity, not growing, undersized or have moldy ends should be removed.
Use garden pruners or shears when picking the ripe fruits, do not bend and pull them off the vine.
When picking the vegetables, leave a one-inch, small area of stem affixed to the cucumber. The purpose is to prevent the end of stems from rooting inside the storage space if you don't use them immediately. All you need to do is cut the fruits from the vine using pruners or sharp knife.
Wear gloves, since some of these fruits are prickly. Remove the spines with a vegetable brush or a rubbing cloth.
As you collect the burpless varieties of cucumbers, put them gently inside the box or container since they are prone to yellowing.
If you are planting lemon cucumbers, make sure to pick them before they turn into yellow. Do not wait until they start turning yellow because the cuke may become too seedy and give a pungent taste. With these guides, harvesting a ripe cucumber is relatively easy. You only need to bear these tips in mind knowing that you are already guided with the idea on whether when is the right time to pick the said fruits.
Taken from https://www.leekgarden.com/when-to-harvest-cucumbers
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365
image from OLD Farmers Almanac
Heat advisory out for today Wed July 28. It is overcast this morning so not too bad but you can feel the level of humidity is high. I worked outside for 3 hours now trying to cool off. I am adding more things to my garden on the blacktop. Moved the basket holders to show off more baskets. I will take pictures soon. Stay cool and drink plenty. I haven’t been for the last 2 days so need to make sure I do today or I will be in trouble.
WATERING WISELY IN DROUGHT OR HOT WEATHER
DEALING WITH DROUGHT IN THE GARDEN
Water your garden wisely, especially in the heat of summer or in areas with drought. See 12 ways to avoid wasting water in the yard and garden—and help your plants survive and even thrive!
An inch of water a week, is that too much to ask for? It doesn’t seem like much but that is the optimum amount for growing most vegetables and ornamentals. If you spread that inch of water out over a 10x10 foot space it equals 62 gallons! What’s a gardener to do, especially when some areas have restricted or even banned outdoor water use?
Drought across the West has gardeners rethinking their use of water so it’s not wasted. Let’ consider how to water as efficiently and effectively as possible, while ensuring our garden plants thrive!
12 TIPS ON WATERING WISELY
What’s the smartest way to water our plants?
Water deeply, less often. Soak your garden thoroughly when the soil is dry; this encourages a strong, deep root system that grows down in search of water and nutrients. Sprinkling or lightly watering daily will result in a shallow root system; they will become stressed if they don’t get their frequent drink of water and won’t be resilient with changing weather.
To “water deeply” means to water with a hose or watering can at least 6 to 8 inches below the soil surface level! In normal weather, water deeply about every 10 days—and 2 to 3 times that in high heat. Container plants may need to be watered every single day when it’s super hot.
Only water the plants that really need it. Not all plants are the same so check different areas of the garden for soil moisture at root level if you’re unsure by digging a small hole with a trowel, or simply by poking your finger in. If it’s cool and damp, just move on.
We also recommend a cheap water meter; they come on a spike that you quickly put into the ground in different areas and will tell you when to water!
Avoid mid-day watering to discourage evaporation. It’s best to water in the morning. (In drought areas, avoid watering between 10 A.M. and 8 P.M.) If you use a sprinkler, water in the morning so that the foliage will dry early and quickly to minimize disease risk.
Trap water. Plant into natural depressions where water pools. Or build up soil around plants to capture water. Another idea is to build up small berms to create miniature reservoirs that hold the water in place so it has a chance to soak into the soil and avoids run-off.
Or, sink a plastic pot into the ground up to the rim next to especially thirsty plants (example: squash). Water into the pot which will then feed the water directly to the root zone.
Look for “indicator” plants. Droopy plant leaves are an easy cue that it’s time to water. (The first crops to wilt are usually squash or cucumber.)
Water at the plants’ roots, not from above! Avoid wetting plant leaves! Aim water at the base of your plants. Keeping foliage dry has the added benefit of reducing disease problems.
Weed! Unwanted plants in your vegetable bed is simply competition for soil moisture, so keep on top of them. Annual weeds can just be hoed off and left on the soil surface, but take the time to dig out the roots of more pernicious perennials such as bindweed or ground elder.
Protect plants from water loss by using shade clothes in hot weather and protecting plants from wind with windbreaks. Use taller crops such as corn to also cast shade and protect smaller plants. Sprawling vines also protect the soil.
To automate watering, look into drip irrigation or leaky hoses over sprinklers which waste a lot of water. These types of irrigation deliver water closer to the plants’ roots where it is needed. An inch of water slowly dripped onto the soil over a six hour period will soak in and not run off. Dig into the soil an hour after watering to see how deep the moisture went. Adjust the flow and timing accordingly.
If you already have an irrigation system, be sure to check the emitters each year as the may watering plants or shrubs that no longer exist; cap them off or move them to avoid waste.
If you are using a sprinkler, use a rain gauge or tuna can in different parts of your garden and measure the water. This helps you test the spread of water over your lawn and see if the sprinkler is watering evenly, so you can make adjustments. Once you get a sense of the watering schedule, consider using timers. Also look for sprinkler heads that use larger droplets (vs a finer spray), as you will be less likely to lose water due to evaporation.
If you are watering with a hose, avoid wasting water by using a long watering wand with a push button or easy shutoff lever. This way you can carefully water each plant at ground level.
Over-watering plants can be just as damaging to plants as drought.
Incorporate lots of organic matter. This is critical for a good garden and even more important during a dry season. Build up your soil by adding lots of compost. Good soil absorbs water like a sponge and improves water-holding capacity.
Mulch around the base of your plants to conserve water. Place straw, bark, pine needles or leaf mulch around your plants to help slow the evaporation of water from the soil.
It takes 1 inch of water 8 times longer to evaporate from mulched soil than from bare soil.
Mulch prevents compaction and acts as a cushion during heavy rainfall helping water to soak in rather than run off. Runoff not only wastes water but can pollute nearby streams. Bare soil can lose up to 3/4 of the rain that falls on it to runoff and evaporation.
Mulch moderates soil temperatures and also squelches those weeds that compete with your plants for precious moisture.
Collect rainwater off your roof, greenhouse, shed, and gutters into water barrels close to where you’ll most need the water.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/watering-wisely-drought-or-hot-weather
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
images from Old Farmers Almanac
We had a week of fair, which Larry attended and helped at Grandpa’s Farm. I didn’t go with my racks, tables and booths this year because of my hip giving me so much pain. We just got back from vacation with our 3 adult children and their families in South Dakota. Great time, great memories. BUT I am tired. It was hot out there but wasn’t humid. Now we are back and it is hot and humid. We had a little shower this morning, just enough to wet the street. I had good help to keep my plants watered so I can wait till tomorrow to do them.
HOW is your garden doing? I have heard that the vegetable gardens are doing well. Green beans, broccoli, cabbage, sweet corn is coming on. Tall tomatoes I have heard some say. Those are your produce for working up a vegetable garden.
My flower garden is just gorgeous. It is large pots, baskets and racks of plants on the blacktop. I will post pictures this week. Are you having butterflies in your garden? Here is the scoop on milkweed that has been domestic for use in the gardens, not like the wild milkweed.
MILKWEED ON THE MENU! By Robin Sweetser
Monarch butterfly populations have declined by a shocking 90% over the past 20 years! One thing we can do is to plant native milkweed. Not only does it provide nectar for the adult butterflies, but also it is the only plant on which they will lay their eggs.
THE MISSING MONARCHS
What has happened to our Monarch butterflies? Many factors have contributed to this horrific loss, including climate change, weather extremes, loss of winter habitat in Mexico, and widespread use of pesticides. While these are problems that will take years to change, one thing we can do in our own yards today is use less or no chemicals. A very easy thing we can do is to plant milkweed!
Not only will you help these valuable pollinators, but you’ll treasure the presence of fluttering friends in the garden!
Milkweed is the only food Monarch “babies” eat! It’s that simple. When the caterpillars hatch out, they can start feeding immediately on the milkweed leaves. Toxins in the plant make the adult Monarchs and their larvae taste bitter to predators, protecting them from hungry birds. It is such an effective deterrent that other butterflies, such as the similarly-colored Viceroy, are also avoided by predators just in case they are bitter too. If you decide to grow milkweed in your yard, be aware that the cardiac glycosides contained in the plants are toxic to pets and people also.
The milkweed genus (Asclepias) is fairly large, with 73 species native to the US and over 100 in North America. They support 12 species of butterflies and moths, including the Monarch. Choose ones that are native to your region and are right for your situation. Here are a few to consider; they have wide native ranges and are frequently available as seeds or plants:
Common milkweed smells so sweet they should make a perfume from it!
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a hardy perennial that will thrive almost anywhere in the US, especially east of the Rockies and into Canada. It needs sun, reaches 2 to 6 feet tall with wide, gray-green, velvety leaves, and is an aggressive grower. Don’t plant this in your flowerbed or it will take over. It has a wide-spreading root system and needs an area all its own, where it can really stretch out. It has pale purple-pink flowers that are very fragrant and attract many pollinators in addition to Monarchs.
Butterfly weed is a bright spot in the garden that attracts all kinds of pollinators.
Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa) is less aggressive than its common cousin, growing only 1 to 2-1/2 feet tall. It is commonly grown in gardens, adapts well to moist or dry soil, and its orange flowers are very showy. It likes full sun and is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Swamp milkweed has thinner leaves and more colorful flowers than common milkweed.
Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) is also more well-behaved than common milkweed, forming clumps rather than spreading out. It grows 2 to 4 feet tall, has deep rose-pink flowers, and is shade tolerant. It will grow in wet soil near lakesides or damp marshlands, but also grows well in average garden soil and is hardy in Zones 3-9.
Showy milkweed (A. speciosa) is native from west of the Mississippi into California and north to Canada. It has pastel pink flowers on 2- to 4-foot tall plants. It is drought tolerant, making it a good plant for arid plains and prairie-lands, though it grows well in moist garden soils as well. It needs full sun and is hardy in Zones 3-9.
There are some milkweeds that are not beneficial to Monarchs. Gardeners in southern states should avoid planting tropical milkweed (A. curassavica). It is a beautiful plant with bright yellow/red/orange flowers, but it hosts a parasite that infects the caterpillars and weakens the butterflies when they emerge from their chrysalis. Since the plants don’t die back until late into winter, the Monarchs stay there until it is too late to make their yearly trip to Mexico. Learn more about Monarch butterfly migration.
Another no-grow is climbing milkweed (Cynachum nigrum), also called black swallow-wort. It is an incredibly invasive twining weed in the milkweed family. If a Monarch lays her eggs on it, those caterpillars won’t grow large enough to turn into butterflies. It is a tough one to get rid of, since it spreads by wind-blown seeds and has a large root crown and deep roots.
BECOMING A WAY STATION
Planting milkweed and other native wildflowers, especially late season nectar plants such as goldenrod and asters, will add to the survival chance of visiting monarchs and other pollinators by acting as an energy source and a shelter for adults, as well as host plants for larvae.
You can create a Monarch Way Station in your backyard in a 100 sq. ft. sunny space with well-drained soil. Plant at least 10 plants of two or more flower species native to your region that flower at different times, including some milkweed. Once it is up and growing, register it at MonarchWatch.org. Over 31,000 gardeners across the country have done it so far!
Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/best-milkweed-varieties-monarch-butterflies
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
image from Old Farmers' Almanac
Sun is starting to come out from under the haze this morning. We had rain and we missed the storms. I know some that were not so fortunate. This weekend good temperatures, and then next week the temperatures go up. ENJOY and Be safe.
I didn’t realize that dragonflies like water. I have had them in the greenhouse early in the season and with all the watering we do in there, I can see why now. Also they eat mosquitoes, so that is good.
DRAGONFLIES: FACTS, SYMBOLIC MEANING, AND HABITAT By George and Becky Lohmiller
The dragonfly and its smaller cousin, the damselfly, belong to an ancient order of insects known as Odonata and have carried symbolic meaning for centuries. Most people love to have dragonflies in their gardens, if only because dragonflies love to eat mosquitoes.
Who hasn’t marveled at the aerial abilities of dragonflies as they glide effortlessly over sparkling streams, pristine ponds, and lakes, plucking insects from the air with deadly precision?
DRAGONFLY FACTS AND LIFE CYCLE
Surprisingly, these brilliantly colored masters of the air are classified as aquatic insects because they spend most of their lives as larvae underwater among plants or in silt. They may spend five years or more in the larval stage, molting several times before emerging as adults—and then living only a few weeks to a few months.
With keen eyesight and expert airmanship, dragonflies and damselflies easily outmaneuver and catch insect prey. Their four gossamer wings move independently of one another, giving them the ability to fly forward, backward, and sideways, or to just hover in place. Bead-like eyes provide 360–degree stereovision, allowing them the ability to spot insects in any direction without turning or moving their heads. (In fact, dragonflies have the biggest eyes in the insect world.)
Dragonflies and damselflies, though similar in their life cycle and appearance, fly differently. You can distinguish them by noticing that dragonflies fly directly and with purpose, while the damselfy’s flight is more fluttery. The damselfly also has a slightly longer abdomen.
A damselfly has the same captivating appearance as a dragonfly, but it is a bit smaller and its eyes are farther apart.
What do dragonflies eat? The dragonflies’ and damselflies’ fondness for mosquitoes puts them in the category of beneficial insects, but they eat many other annoying bugs. Their diet includes midges, moths, flies, and other flying insects. Unfortunately, they also sometimes eat butterflies. This means that planting flowers that attract butterflies might keep your yard full of both species.
Dragonflies aren’t just beneficial as mosquito-eaters. Their role as barometers of wetland health is also very important. In order to survive, odonate larvae need clean, well-oxygenated water. Drainage of wetlands, pollution from farming and industry, and the development of new roads and houses have increasingly reduced dragonfly habitat. Conservation of existing wetlands is key to odonate survival, as is providing new habitats for them to colonize.
Fossil records show that dragonflies were around for 100 million years before the dinosaurs. These prehistoric predators had wingspans of over three feet and are the largest insects known. Imagine if they were that big now—a dainty dragonfly landing on your finger would not seem quite so charming!
DRAGONFLY MEANING AND SYMBOLISM
Many Americans believe that it is good luck if a dragonfly lands on you without prompting. Dragonflies are also a symbol of good luck in Chinese tradition.
Dragonflies have been a notable part of folklore in many countries, especially Japan. Japanese tradition views dragonflies as symbols of swiftness and as a sign of summer and autumn.
Dragonflies have been a symbol of purity, activity, and swiftness for some Native Americans. The indication of purity comes from both the pure water in healthy aquatic habitats where dragonflies thrive and from the fact that they eat their food right out of the wind.
Some common names for dragonflies are “Mosquito Hawk,” “Devil’s Darning Needle,” and “Snake Doctor.” Mosquito Hawk stems from the dragonfly’s favorite food, Devil’s Needle stems from very old traditions indicating that dragonflies were evil, and Snake Doctor stems from the fact that dragonflies can often be seen in the same habitat as snakes and sometimes even interact with them.
HOW TO ATTRACT DRAGONFLIES TO YOUR GARDEN
Constructing a pond or other backyard water feature will attract a surprising number of dragonflies and damselflies. Size is not crucial, but dig the basin deep enough so that the water won’t freeze solid in the winter. Plant a few native plants at its edge for wind protection. The pond should get at least partial sun.
Dragonflies are born and spend most of their lives in aquatic habitats, so you can attract them by building a pond in your yard.
If you already have a pond in your yard or are considering building one, it helps to have some vertical plants coming out of the water. This is where the female dragonflies and damselflies will lay their eggs.
By providing needed habitat, you can help save dragonflies as well as damsels in distress.
Be aware of the pesticides you are using to get rid of annoying bugs like mosquitoes—they also might be harming beneficial insects like dragonflies. Look at our tips for how to deter mosquitoes instead. Remember that if you’re not controlling the mosquito population, hopefully the dragonflies will!
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/content/dragonflies-facts-symbolic-meaning-and-habitat
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365
images from Old Farmers Almanac
We just had a storm. Lots of heavy rain but that was it. Rain is good for all that rely on growing gardens, and crops. There are more storms coming and predicted someone might get high winds, hail and heavy rains. HOPE all are safe. At least I don’t have to water today.
This article is written in first person as Robin is talking about her garden. I love the word for aggressive plants as GARDEN THUGS.
CUTTING BACK AND THINNING SUMMER PLANTS
MIDSUMMER MAINTENANCE FOR NUISANCE PLANTS By Robin Sweetser
“Garden thugs” are plants (not weeds) that quickly get out of control in the garden. They can really run amok and hog all the room if they’re not judiciously pruned, dug out, cut back, or thinned in midsummer. Here’s how to keep them from taking over!
Last week I was making iced tea and wanted to add some spearmint to the brew. It grows in a flowerbed near the kitchen. I couldn’t find it! Though I pass by this flowerbed many times each day, obviously, I haven’t paid much attention to this bed. It had been choked out by other plants.
Ironically, mint is a common garden thug, notorious for its habit of overrunning a garden, but that was not the case here. A turf war was raging under my nose and the violets and goutweed were winning.
I intentionally planted the most rugged and hardy plants in this bed since it’s near an area that has poor soil and gets piled by snow. These plants, including mint, would become invasive thugs if they were being grown in better soil, more sun, and had a little extra water thrown their way in the summer. None of that is the case, so this is truly a Darwin garden where only the strong survive. I finally had to step in though and do some editing—a nice term for long overdue maintenance.
Is it any wonder that only one iris bloomed this spring? They are being totally choked out by rampant growers like violets and goutweed!
10 PLANTS THAT NEED TO BE CHOPPED, THINNED & DUG OUT
First, the violets had to go. Never fear, next spring there will still be plenty of them to give a nice show of blossoms, as they are virtually impossible to totally eradicate. Their shiny heart-shaped leaves are a nice groundcover or understory plant in the right place, but I have way too many of them. Shade or sun—they don’t care.
Next, it was time to deal with the goutweed (Aegopodium agraria)—pretty, but dangerous. Don’t trust it! It attacks from above and below, spreading by underground runners and seeds. I was surprised to see it for sale at a reputable nursery this spring and had to restrain myself from saying what I was thinking. “Are you crazy selling this stuff! Don’t you know how invasive it is?” A former owner of my house must have thought it was pretty and planted it here. Probably the same person who thought planting burning bush (Euonymous alata) was a good idea. I have been fighting with both for years!
Then, the New England asters got chopped in half to cut them down to size. Even so, they still will eventually tower over the rest of the plants in the bed. I don’t know where all the phlox have come from. They have extensive root systems, but birds also spread the seeds so some of these plants must have traveled from the other side of the yard. I ripped out most of them to prevent a hostile takeover and chopped the rest in half to give the plants around them a fighting chance.
Goldenrod is great for late summer color and a pollinator favorite, but enough is enough! It rudely rides roughshod over its neighbors and most of it had to go.
Rambunctious Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) is holding its ground against the domineering astilbe, so I let them continue to duke it out on their own.
Lily-of-the-valley could easily overtake any garden if given the chance, but they struggle to gain a foothold in this battleground.
The obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) usually does not live up to its name, but in this garden of plants behaving badly, it has been kept in check by its more aggressive neighbors.
Talking about space invaders, the great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is another plant that appeared out of nowhere and has elbowed its way into this bed and several others. I do love the blue flowers later in the season, but they need to quit hogging all the room.
The tawny day lily is another plant that does not play well with others. I have tried to mix day lilies in other colors with them only to find that the tawnys have taken over. Now they have their own bed and are kept in check by mowing around the edges.
Years ago I found some vinca growing near an abandoned cellar hole in the woods and brought a piece home to plant on the shady north side of the house. Any plant that can grow for 100 years with no attention is my kind of plant. I should have known better! Given an inch, it has taken a mile. Now I see why it is on the invasive species lists in many states.
That said, be wary of pass-along plants that you might be gifted with. Will they be friend or foe? Many are fine but some may be rampant growers that you will eventually regret planting. When buying plants look out for watchwords like “vigorous grower”, “fast spreading”, “exuberant”, “thrives in sun or shade”, “self-sows freely”, or the dreaded “good for erosion control”. All of them could spell trouble down the road. If you have a question about whether or not something is considered invasive in your area consult your state’s invasive species list or check out invasive.org or invasivespeciesinfo.gov for more information.
The upside to spending a few hours removing some of the thugs from my garden is that now I have room to plug in some annuals for season-long color and can plant some new perennials!
P.S. Some other common garden thugs include: blackberries, horseradish, Japanese anemones, the herbs fennel and dill, amaranth, and butterfly bush. Let inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/cutting-back-and-thinning-summer-plants
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
How many of you grow dill? I grow it for the smell of it. Love dill for that reason. Also for black swallowtail butterflies.
taken from old farmers almanac
Another lovely morning, but by noon that sun has some power to it…it was hot. Inside it is still cool so no A/C yet. Looks like the humidity is coming in tomorrow with a chance of rain and storms. But after tomorrow looks good for the rest of the week. I watered all the plants this morning and loaded up the pickup with baskets to take to decorate the fair grounds. Larry will help me set them up after he gets back from the tractor ride. Fun time at the fair. I am so enjoying my garden that our grandson last week helped me put together. I will show pictures later with it. He told his mom; Grandma has her garden now. It is on the blacktop where the racks were. Pots, containers, baskets, and tall racks make it look awesome. I hope all of you are enjoying all of your work in planting and reaping the rewards of a harvest and color.
I planted dill just because I love the smell of it. I know I am weird, but I use it as a plant that I walk by and just smell it. Also the black tail swallowtail butterflies use it as a host plant. They will lay their eggs on it, caterpillars hatch and they will use the leaves as their food till they spin. So here is how you grow dill and take care of it.
Dill is an annual, self-seeding plant with feathery green leaves. It is used most commonly in soups and stews or for pickling. Dill weed is easy to grow—here’s how!
If you’re planting dill for pickling, plant every few weeks into midsummer to ensure a constant supply for when the harvest begins!
To create a permanent patch of dill, allow some of the plants to flower and go to seed each year—you’ll have plenty of early dill to start the season.
Dill attracts beneficial insects such as wasps and other predatory insects to your garden, and is a host plant for the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly.
WHEN TO PLANT DILL
Dill seeds should be sown directly into the garden (dill puts down a taproot, so like carrots, it doesn’t transplant well) after the threat of frost has passed in the spring. See local frost dates.
The soil temperature should be between 60 and 70ºF (15 and 21°C) for the best germination results. Seedlings should appear in 10 to 14 days.
Plant dill every couple of weeks until mid summer to ensure a constant supply into fall.
CHOOSING AND PREPARING A PLANTING SITE
Plant in full sun.
Choose a site that has well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. The pH of the soil should ideally be between slightly acidic and neutral.
In your garden, plant dill next to cabbage or onions, but keep it away from carrots. Learn more about companion planting.
Make sure to shelter dill from strong winds, as it can be blown over easily.
HOW TO PLANT DILL
Sow dill seeds about ¼-inch deep and 18 inches apart.
After 10 to 14 days, young dill plants should appear in the soil. Wait another 10 to 14 days, then thin the plants to about 12 to 18 inches apart (if they aren’t already spaced well enough).
HOW TO GROW DILL
Water the plants freely during the growing season, ensuring that they don’t dry out excessively.
In order to ensure a season-long fresh supply of dill, continue sowing seeds every few weeks. For an extended harvest, do not allow flowers to grow on the plants.
If dill is allowed to go to seed and the soil isn’t disturbed too much, more dill plants will likely appear next spring.
Dill foliage, flower, and seed
Leaf spot and occasionally a few other types of fungal leaf and root diseases
HOW TO HARVEST DILL
As soon as the plant has four to five leaves, you can start harvesting. Harvest older leaves first. Pinch off the leaves or cut them off with scissors.
If you have a lot of plants, you can take entire stalks.
‘Fernleaf’ dill is a compact variety that works well in containers and is not prone to bolting.
‘Bouquet’ is a larger variety that produces a lot of seeds.
‘Mammoth’ is another tall variety and is considered one of the best for pickling and other culinary uses, such as in potato salads, cucumber soup, and fish dishes.
WIT & WISDOM
For sweeter breath, chew dill seeds.
If you grow your own dill and cucumbers, you can make dill pickles!
Dill and Potato Cakes
Quick and Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Dilled Green Beans
Many people love to make dill pickles with their fresh dill. You can also add dill as a seasoning in countless recipes.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/plant/dill
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
What a lovely morning it is on this day of the 12th of July. Low humidity, low temperature, blue clear sky and just a little wind. The sun has power in it so it will quickly warm up. Temperature at 10:15 AM is at 75 degrees. I have been outside working on my garden this morning. I will go out again, as I have more planting to do. I will show pictures when the garden is done, but it is on our blacktop, and it is all pots of containers. So, this information about fertilizing is very important for me to do also. I use the water soluble fertilizer thru an injector every time I water.
Question this last week “My hanging basket isn’t doing very well, but the same plant in the ground is? What can I do? I have fertilizer the basket.”
Answer you probably need to repot the hanging basket as all the nutrients from the soil has washed away and it will probably be root bound so needs to go into a bigger container and with new potting mixture.
HOW TO FERTILIZE OUTDOOR POTS By Doreen G. Howard
How to Fertilize Containers
For thriving outdoor flowerpots and especially vegetable containers, a continuous supply of nutrients and fertilizer is an absolute must. I learned the hard way as a novice gardener. Here’s how to fertilize your containers.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRIENTS
My containers filled with petunias, salvia, lettuces, and tomatoes looked awful, especially when compared to those I planted in the ground later. I was starving the container plants, because I didn’t replace nutrients that were leached out of the potting mix every time I watered. Unlike plants in the ground which have roots to seek out additional nutrients, container plants are effectively quarantined from the nutrients, fungi, and bacteria naturally found in soil.
If you’re going to grow plants in containers, you’re also going to need to lend a helping hand. Plants exhaust the available nutrients in containers within about six weeks, even if you’re using a high-quality potting soil or compost.
Sure, you can sprinkle in some fertilizer pellets, as you might do with vegetables grown in the ground. But even that won’t be enough for some container plants, especially tomatoes and other big feeders. A regular liquid feed is best. You can buy liquid feeds or make your own. Diluted with water, they provide a shot of extra nutrients that ensures plants continue to grow well and be productive.
MY 3-STEP CONTAINER FERTILIZER PROGRAM
Now I use this three-step fertilizer program, and my container gardens flourish. Be sure to fertilize…
1. When you are filling your containers with potting mix.
When you are starting out, incorporate fertilizer pellets into your potting mix. (If the potting mix contains fertilizer, skip this step.) You want “slow-release” fertilizer pellets which are coated with a polymer that let them dissolve at varied rates; the thicker the coating, the long it takes for the fertilizer in pellets to be released into the potting mix. Most brands feed plants for at least 60 days, and some supply a steady stream of nutrients for up to 120 days. Check the label on any product you buy for this information.
Slow-release food is also available in organic form. Fish meal pellets are formulated similarly to synthetic fertilizers. Cotton seed meal, feather meal and alfalfa pellets are other slow-release organic choices. All feed plants for about 60 days. The alfalfa also contains a hormone, triacontanol, which promotes plant growth.
2. As your plants grow.
Apply a water-soluble (liquid) fertilizer to supplement the slow-release fertilizer. Water-soluble ones deliver nutrients directly to plant roots and are easy to apply. Just dissolve them in water and pour the liquid into the container for a nutritional boost. Follow package directions for dilution rates and the amount of fertilizer to use on each container.
If you are buying liquid fertlizer, there are many types on the market. You want an equal ratio of “N-P-K” (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), which are the three nutrients that plants need most of. However, for plants such as tomatoes and peppers and other fruiting plants, choose a liquid fertilizer with a higher K number.
Organic choices such as fish meal emulsion and liquid kelp work well, too. In fact, some plants like ferns and lettuce respond better to organic products than to synthetic fertilizers.
I like to use a liquid feed made from seaweed. I water all my vegetables with a dilute seaweed feed about once a month. Fruiting vegetables will need a tomato feed weekly (alternating with the seaweed feed once a month). Fertilize throughout the growing season from spring until late summer.
Note: There are some container plants which really do not need to be fed as they grow. Cut-and-come-again lettuces or other salad leaves don’t typically need a regular feed. Herbs shouldn’t need to be fed at all, particularly lavender, thyme or rosemary; they do best in nutrient-poor, drier conditions.
3. If plants are stressed or need a pick-me up.
If plants need a quick pick-me-up due to stress or heavy production of flowers or fruit, feed plant leaves directly. Deadhead old blooms, cut back damaged foliage and then spray water-soluble fertilizer on leaf tops and undersides. The spray delivers nutrients directly to where photosynthesis takes place. Results are dramatic—you’ll see growth or renewal almost overnight.
If plants are looking a bit under the weather, I water with my diluted seaweed solution or even spray the seaweed solution directly onto the leaves and that will often sort them out.
Use any spray bottle or garden sprayer and follow dilution rates given on the fertilizer package. A word of caution about foliar feeding. Don’t do it when temperatures are above 90ºF or when the sun is beating of plants directly. The fertilizer will burn leaves. The best time to foliar feed is in the morning or early evening.
MAKE YOUR OWN LIQUID FERTILIZER
Liquid fertilizer can get pricy, depending on the size of your container garden, so consider making your own. Comfrey is the most commonly homemade liquid fertilizer. It’s great for fruiting vegetables because it contains a good dose of potassium. Nettles or borage can be used in the same way for a higher-nitrogen alternative, which is beneficial for leafy vegetables.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/abcs-fertilizing-containers
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
image from freepik.com
I am looking at the website I haven’t posted since June 30th. SORRY trying to get things well watered at the greenhouse. It has been hard, hot and not the easiest when the temperature and humidity are high. But the plants look good yet. We have been getting the racks down, so now have 4 full racks of blooming plants. It will be easier to take care of now.
I got this article from a cousin of mine, so wanted to share it with you. For me, after working 145 days In a row for retail, and time before that planting, I need my fuel tank filled.
I have some news to share with you too. I will not be at the Franklin Co Fair. It has been 20 years that I have been there. I am having some hip trouble so can’t do the work. I will be getting the hip replaced this fall but just don’t have the strength or ability to move all the stuff to the fair, set up and be there for it. I will miss being at the Fair. We will be providing baskets for decorating the grounds so my work will be there.
I am taking 2 weeks off from sales, but July 26th we will be opening up again. I have some new succulents growing, carnivorous plants, houseplants, cacti, plus perennials that can be planted anytime for that continuous color. Trees and shrubs are doing well. I will be posting when I am back to work. I just need some time to take care of other things like bookwork, like housework, and just taking care of me.
I want to take this time to thank all the gardeners that have been here to help support our business. It has been a good year, and hope you are enjoying the plants you have gotten from Becky’s Greenhouse.
Here is the article I received from a cousin. This is what I am going to do the next 2 weeks Pause and fill my tank.
Pause and fill your tank.
The whole world paused this morning.
Do you know why? Because an 8 year old’s tank was empty.
The boys had already started their school day at their desks and I was preparing to leave for work when I noticed my littlest standing in the bathroom wiping his face.
I paused at the door and asked if he was okay. He looked up with tears silently dripping and shook his head. When I questioned if something happened, again he shook his head.
So I sat on the side of the tub and pulled him in my lap. I told him sometimes our heart tanks feel empty and need to be refilled.
He cried into my chest and I held tight.
I asked if he could feel my love filling him up?
A nod, and tears stopped...
I waited a minute...
‘Has it reached your toes yet?’
He shook his head no...
‘Okay man. We will take as long as you need. Work doesn’t matter right now. School isn’t important either. This right here, is the most important thing today, okay? Filling you back to the top. Is that good?’
One more minute...
‘Is your heart full of mamas love now?’
*looks in his eyes* I see it shining in there, you’re full to the top, and you’re smiling!
Y’all. You may not be 8- you may be 28, 38, 48 or whatever- but ALL of us run on empty just like he did. His weekend was so busy and so full and his little soul was just dry!!!
We all have to pause, and take a moment to refill with the good things. Scripture, prayer, sunshine, worship, song, laughter, friends, hugs. Refill your empty, or you’ll find those emotions (tears, anger, snappy words) overflowing with no reason why.
Take a moment. Refill. It’s the most important part of your day.
Till next time this is Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com 641-794-3337 cell phone 641-903-9365
Hi! My name is Becky and I am a Master Gardener. I own Becky's Greenhouse in Dougherty, Iowa.