gardening tips

 

July, 2006

The most important thing to remember as we move into the heat of summer is water, water, water!! July has the longest and the hottest days of the year. All plants, especially newly planted trees and shrubs, need deep watering. Check for dryness every three to five days during this period. The soil would be wet six inches down after watering or after a rain shower. Shallow watering encourages shallow root systems and stresses the plant. Automatic watering systems should be programmed to run longer and fewer times to get ample depth and penetration of the water. Early morning is the best time to apply water in order to reduce the incidence of fungus and mildew. Use a good organic fertilizer such as Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 every ninety days. Chemical fertilizers cause plants to release compounds from their roots that actually inhibit the microbial growth so critical to a healthy soil (and therefore healthy plant). Reduced soil microbial activity eventually leads to plants that are not as efficient at extracting nutrients from the soil and are more susceptible to diseases and insect damage.

Question: The leaves of my hibiscus are turning yellow. It's newly planted. What do I do?

Answer: Hibiscus plants habitually respond to stress with yellowing leaves. Your plant may simply be exhibiting stress from being newly planted. Give it some time to recover. Remove the affected leaves and make a tea of alfalfa, or if you cannot get alfalfa locally, make the tea by putting a cup of Bradfield Organics® Luscious Lawn & Garden™ 3-1-5 in a gallon of water, stir occasionally for 24 hours and pour around the base of the bush. Hibiscus tend to be heavy feeders – once a week during growing season is great -- who like low phosphorus and high potassium, so avoid fertilizers that are high in phosphorus. They also like a hefty supply of micronutrients, so natural fertilizers such as Bradfield will more readily meet your plant’s needs than a simple inorganic NPK fertilizer. Spider mites are a common insect infestation on hibiscus that will cause yellow leaves. If your plant has spider mites, shower it with lukewarm water, being sure to clean the undersides of the leaves (you may need to do this once a week for a while). If the infestation is heavy, add some soap to the water. Also, leaves will yellow naturally as they become old and are ready to drop off.

Question: When can I prune my snowball bush?

Answer: Snowball bushes should be pruned right after blooming. Remove the cane right down to the base. Viburnum, hydrangea and Ceanothus are all referred to as “snowball”, but all are best pruned right after blooming is done.

Question: Can I apply lime to my garden or lawn now?

Answer: Yes, although fall is the ideal time, as lime breaks down slowly. Applying lime in the fall means that it will become incorporated into the soil over winter and will be ready for the new growth of spring. But if your lawn/garden needs it now, by all means apply it. However, be sure to conduct a soil test first to determine if you really need it, and if so, how much. Too much lime is just as harmful as too little (if pH gets too high, nutrients become unavailable to the plant). If the recommended application is over 50 lbs/1000 square feet, you may want to break it into multiple applications for aesthetic reasons (a lot of lime can lie there like a white powder for quite some time after application). One accurate application should be good for four to six years; soil testing will let you know when another application is needed. Do not apply lime and inorganic nitrogen together, as the increase in pH (due to the lime) will result in loss of nitrogen around the fertilizer granules.

Question: My tomato plants are dropping some of their blossoms. What can I do?

Answer: Tomato blossom drop can be caused by many things, but the number one reason is temperature. Days above 90F and nights above 70 - 75F or nights below 55F will interfere with fruit set, causing blossoms to fall off (the night temperatures tend to have more effect than the day temperatures). These temperatures stress the plant, and it switches from reproductive mode to survival mode. Another factor is excess nitrogen; be careful not to overfertilize tomatoes. One application at planting and another after fruit set is plenty. Other less common causes are insects (especially thrips and aphids), excessive wind, and too little light (tomatoes like sun) or too much light for too long (tomatoes need darkness at night to rest – if you are growing them in a greenhouse, be sure you turn the lights off at night). If your plant is growing very well and sets an excessive number of blossoms, it may drop some simply because they are all competing for a set amount of nutrients. Be sure to plant tomatoes that are designed for your area – they will be better able to handle the temperatures and day lengths common to your location.

Question: Why are my tomatoes cracking?

Answer: Cracking is a disorder caused by moisture fluctuations. If the plant goes through a dry period, then receives water, the pulp of the fruit will plump up and expand faster than the skin can stretch, resulting in cracks. These cracks can be circular around the base of the stem, or perpendicular, from the stem to the bottom of the tomato. The best control for cracking is a constant water supply. Water once a week and water deeply – tomatoes have deep roots and are stressed by shallow watering. Apply a mulch, preferably using alfalfa hay, to the base of the plants to help prevent evaporation. This is especially important when fruits are maturing. Using fertilizers that are high in nitrogen and low in potassium will increase the susceptibility to cracking. Use Bradfield Tasty Tomato to provide balanced nutrition to your plants.

For more information on organic fertilizing techniques, visit www.safelawns.org.


 

Archives

April, 2007
Early Spring, 2007
Winter, 2006-2007

January, 2006
February, 2006
March, 2006
April, 2006
May, 2006
June, 2006
July, 2006
August, 2006
September, 2006
October, 2006

 

 

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