"God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done."
~ Author Unknown
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
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You don't have to live in Kansas to enjoy sunflowers in the garden! Sunflowers are easy and fun to grow. From tall varieties that reach for the sky to dwarf types that are knee-high, there's a variety to suit every gardener's needs. Since they grow very quickly, children enjoy watching them grow--and the large seeds are easy for small fingers to handle. Plus, if you buy a good eating variety, you can harvest the seeds and teach the kids to roast them for a healthy snack!
- Plant in full sun, where they will not shade other plants, or plant shade-lovers around them.
- Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and about 6 inches apart.
- When the seedlings come up, thin them to about 18 inches apart.
- Water well after planting and keep fairly moist, but not soggy, until the seeds sprout.
Sunflower seedlings will come up in one or two weeks. They will start out slowly, then speed up their growth rate. Children can be responsible for watering them, weeding around them and adding mulch around the plants.
Harvesting of sunflower heads is quick and easy--but you may need a ladder or stepstool if you are growing tall varieties. Watch the birds; when they start going after the seed heads, cover the heads with cheesecloth to protect the seeds. The seed heads will be ready to harvest when their backs are brown and dry and no traces of green remain.
Cut off the heads with a foot or two of stalk. Hang them upside down in a dry and airy place. When the seeds are dried, rub them off with your hand and store them in an airtight container. Don't wash them, as this could cause them to mold.
To roast sunflower seeds, place a single layer of raw dehulled kernels in a shallow pan. Roast in a 300 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are brown and crisp. Stir occasionally. Remove from the oven. One teaspoon of melted margarine may be added if preferred for each cup of seeds; stir to evenly coat. Place the seeds on absorbent paper. Salt to taste. Store in a tightly covered container.
For salted in-the-shell seeds, cover unhulled seeds with salted water in the amount of 2 quarts of water to 1/4-1/2 cup salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and dry on absorbent paper. Seeds may also be soaked overnight instead of boiled. Then proceed as for the roasted kernels above.
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Summer is here...
The days are longer and we're spending more time outdoors.
Now is the time to plant scented shrubs and vines or even a complete scented garden in your "outdoor room." The supply of scented plants is excellent this time of year, and if you plant now there is a good chance of plentiful fragrant blooms all summer. Almost all scented plants can also be grown in containers, so they make a great addition to patios and balconies.
Most of them require good drainage and acidic soil.
Come on in and sniff the beautiful scents of summer. We'll help you choose one or more to give your garden and your home fragrances that will delight you all season long.
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When is the best time to water my garden/lawns?
The best time to water a lawn or garden is between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. The temperature during this time period is generally cooler and less windy, and the humidity is higher so the evaporation loss will be lower.
In some areas of the country, the water pressure may also be higher during this time, which will help provide more even spray distribution. Watering at this time is even more important because it overlaps the natural dew period of most plants and grass lawns.
Most plant and lawn diseases occur when the foliage or grass blades are wet for longer than 12 consecutive hours. If you water in the early evening you actually extend the natural wetness period and increase the possibility for disease problems. The natural dew contains substances exuded from the plant tissue which increase the growth of disease organisms. By watering in the early morning hours you actually dilute these substances which will help reduce the growth of disease organisms.
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How do I know if I have poor drainage?
First, your plants won't look happy. (Surprise!) The foliage will look dull and lack the luster and intense color of a healthy plant. If it is a blooming plant, it may produce few blooms or none at all. When the condition becomes severe, the plant will drop its leaves from the interior first, eventually working its way to the leaf tips.
The second sure sign is if you are not watering much but the ground stays continually wet, or even has moss or algae growing on it. The soil may also have an odor. What is important to remember is that every time plants are watered, the soil temperature is lowered by up to twenty degrees. Most plants are stimulated to grow as the soil temperature warms up. If the soil is always wet, the soil temperature will be cooler than the plant desires and it won't grow much.
Poorly draining soil also attracts bad bacteria that can attack the root system, in addition to providing less oxygen for the plant. If you think you have bad drainage, gently lift the plant out of the ground with a shovel--being careful not to damage roots.
If the soil is wet at the bottom of the hole, dig it deeper and back-fill with at least six inches of gravel. Then build a mound that will raise the plant 3-6 inches higher than the surrounding soil level and re-plant so that the top of the root ball is level with the top of the mound. If that doesn't work, you may need to find a different location for the plant.
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The worst time of the entire year to fertilize your lawn is from July 4 through August 30. Do not fertilize during the heat of the summer unless you absolutely have to. Try to let the lawn slow down during the heat of summer.
If you must fertilize during the extreme heat use Dr Earth Lawn Food, Milorganite Fertilizer or Ironite. These fertilizers are slow, non-burning fertilizers. Humate (Garden Soil Activator) is also a great lawn food supplement that can be applied any time of year. It is not a fertilizer but it will help strengthen the lawn during the summer weather. It will also help prevent some of the lawn diseases that might otherwise start to develop.
The best time to fertilize the lawn is when it cools down in late August or September. Fall fertilizer will keep the lawn green in the fall and help the lawn green up quickly in the spring. We suggest J&L 21-7-7 Lawn Food or J&L Fall & Winter Fertilizer applied in September or October.
Weed & Feed is not good to apply during hot weather. Wait until the temperature will stay below 85 degrees. Always spot treat weeds if they must be controlled during the summer. Do not treat the entire lawn. Spot spray for weeds in the late evening for the safest time of application.
Spurge & Oxalis. Spray these weeds now with a spot treatment. Treat the whole lawn when the temperature will stay below 85. Mix spreader sticker with the weed killer to help the weeds absorb the chemical faster. Apply Bayer Lawn Weed Killer (this product will also kill young crabgrass plants) or Fertilome Weed Free Zone. You will need to spray oxalis two or three times this summer and again in the fall. You will also need to spray again next spring because oxalis doesn't die in the winter like many other weeds do. Apply crabgrass control next spring, in May, to help prevent these two weeds.
Clover & Morning Glory. September and October are excellent times to control these weeds because the night gets cold and the day is still warm. Wait until after the first frost for best results. These weeds will die much quicker after a light frost because they start sending energy to their root system to store for winter. Use Fertilome Weed Free Zone in the lawn and Roundup in the gardens. Roundup is stronger but it will also kill the lawn.
No weed killer should be used when the temperature will get above 85 degrees in the next 24 hours. When it is above 85 degrees many weed killers will volatilize (evaporate) and drift onto other plants nearby. The chemical may volatilize before the weed can absorb it so the intended plant will not die but nearby plants may be adversely affected.
Mow your lawn when it is dry, not wet. Wet grass tends to plug up your lawn mower. Besides the extra mess, mowing while the lawn is wet can create a compaction problem. Wet thatch and soil is easily compacted by your weight and by the weight of the lawn mower.
Mow in the cool part of the day. Besides helping to keep you cool, your lawn will recover more quickly after being mowed if the soil is cool.
Mow regularly. Don't wait until your lawn looks like an alfalfa field to mow it. Letting the lawn grow to an excessive height and then removing most of the plant creates excessive stress within the plant and root system.
Mow grass at a longer height in the heat of summer. Mow your lawn about 1.5” during the spring and fall. Mow your lawn to about 2” or even 2.5” long during the heat of summer. Long grass provides extra shade for the roots system and it helps prevent as much water from evaporating. Keep your mower sharp. A dull blade tends to whip the grass rather than cutting it. A dull brown tinge will appear a few days after mowing if the blade was not sharp.
Lawn Watering Tips
Water during the cool part of the day; either morning or evening. The lawn cannot use as much water efficiently during the hot weather, and water evaporates much quicker during the heat of day. Do not water between 8 am and 6 pm because of water restrictions: you might even get a ticket!
Water infrequently. Do not water your lawn every day, even during the heat of summer. Change how often you water as the temperature changes. You may only need to water once a week in April. You may need to water twice a week in May. You may need to water three times a week in June and July. You may only need to water twice a week in August and September. You may only need to water once a week in October. Watch the weather and change your watering schedule accordingly.
Water deeply. Grass roots do not seek for water, they will just grow in the areas that already have water available. Water long enough so water can penetrate 4” or 5” deep into the soil. If the water is just running off the lawn and down the gutter, or into your neighbor's yard, the extra watering time is not benefiting your lawn. You may need to aerate more frequently or water your lawn differently. Try watering half as long but two times on the day you normally water but do not water every day. Once the water starts to run off instead of penetrating into the soil, stop watering. Wait for two or three hours and then apply the rest of the needed water, so the water can be absorbed.
How Much Water? A typical lawn needs about 1/2” of water each time you water. Place several tuna fish cans or pie tins throughout your lawn. When you have about 1/2” of water in the container you have watered long enough. You may have to water 10 minutes in the front yard and 30 minutes in the back yard. Don't be too surprised if each zone in your sprinkler system needs a different amount of time to apply the 1/2” of water.
Blossom end rot is a common problem we will start seeing in the next little while. This is a physical problem not a disease or insect problem. A black or brown spot appears on the blossom end of the tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash etc. This spot is caused by stress in the plant. (Too dry, too wet, too hot, etc.) The best control is to prevent stress. Water consistently to keep plants from getting too wet or too dry. Mulch the garden with bark or grass clippings to keep the moisture constant and keep the soil a little more cool. The tomatoes are still good to eat if you just cut off the bad end.
Fruit not setting on tomatoes and squash. If the night time temperature stays too warm, fruit will not set well. Tomato set is a spray that can be applied to the blossoms of many plants to help set fruit. You can also use a cotton swab to transfer pollen from blossom to blossom, much like a bee would do.
Mother Nature is a very smart lady. Over the years she has taught the insect kingdom how to get along with each other and how to treat their surrounding environment, the plants.
Insects provide us with many benefits. Honeybees provide us with honey. Leaf cutter bees pollinate more flowers, fruit trees, and plants than honeybees. Ants help spread seeds and aerate the soil so plants can grow and spread faster. Millipedes and Dung beetles help decompose plant and animal waste and turn it into fertilizer for plants. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. Praying Praying mantids love to eat grasshoppers and other small insects for lunch. Lady bugs help keep the aphid population under control. Decollate snails hunt and eat the larger garden snails. Spiders keep many unwanted insect pests under control while causing relatively little threat or damage to animals and humans. These insects are just a few of the beneficial insects that mother nature has provided to help us gardeners. Yes, bugs are important.
If we just kill all bugs indiscriminately we can upset the natural balance that mother nature has provided and can cause more work for ourselves. Target the harmful insects and try to leave the less harmful bugs alone. Learn to enjoy a few spider webs in and among your plants. A few holes in leaves might be unsightly, but if the plant is healthy, you may enjoy the holes knowing the butterfly you saw a few minutes ago was the culprit. Learn to eat around the worm holes in a few apples. Boil your broccoli and skim the little worms off the top of the water before you eat it.
Other benefits insects provide are not as noticeable. For example, milk weed is a poisonous weed that is kept from spreading and becoming a noxious weed by the Monarch Butterfly larva. In return, milkweed provides the food necessary for the butterfly larvae to grow and mature. In addition, the milky sap that protects milkweed from other insects also provides the monarch butterflies protection from its predators.
Plants also fight back against insects. You have probably seen tomato, potato, and alfalfa leaves with a lot of small holes in them instead of the leaf being completely eaten. Do you know why? When an insect starts chewing on the leaves of these plants, the leaf releases an enzyme which inhibits the insect's digestive system from working properly. When that happens the insect moves to a different leaf. Another tactic is employed by oak trees to protect themselves from complete annihilation. After gypsy moths defoliate an oak tree, the tree produces a new set of leaves that are much more rich in tannins, which inhibits gypsy moths from eating these new leaves. The oak tree lets the insects have one set of leaves but the tree will not let them have another set of leaves the same year. The oak tree needs its leaves to survive.
Some willow trees are even more protective than oak trees. Trees that are infested with caterpillars respond by making their leaves less nutritious. They also emit a chemical into the air that signals other trees nearby to make their leaves unpalatable before the insects actually arrive.
Some species in the mustard family contain chemicals that are so repugnant that most insects will not eat them, even if they have to starve to death. However, other insects, including some beetles, butterflies, and moths, will not eat any other types of plants than those from that same mustard family.
Yes, Bugs Are Important!
There is no set manner by which plants poison people or animals. Most plants must be ingested to become toxic, while others can just be touched to cause a skin reaction. Toxicity often depends on the part of the plant eaten, or the amount of the plant ingested. For example, the leaves of a cherry tree are "moderately toxic" but the fruit is "non-toxic." The leaves of rhubarb are "very toxic" but the stems are "non toxic." All parts of the sunflower plants are on the "slightly toxic" plant list. If you eat too many sunflower seeds you will have a toxic reaction (you may get sick). Since sunflowers are a large part of our snack food diet, many people are surprised. Sunflower seeds are a good example of the amount of a plant needed to be ingested to cause a toxic reaction. Did you know that the shells from sunflower seeds dropping from a bird feeder may kill the grass below?
Just because a plant produces a poisonous berry or leaf, it should not be automatically excluded from use in your home landscape. Most plants are perfectly safe for children. However, there are many plants that contain poisonous substances that warrant precaution. Adults should learn their landscapes and distinguish those plants that are potentially dangerous. A plant dangerous to one family (or family member) may not be dangerous to another, depending on the age of the person and the location of the poisonous part. For example, the poisonous berries of 'Lily of the Valley' are more hazardous to a small toddler than to a ten-year-old because the berries are at ground level where the toddler may see them.
The best way to protect small children from plant poisoning is to teach them not to pick or eat any plant parts without adult supervision until they are old enough to be positive that the plant is safe to eat. Teach your children that just because an animal eats a particular plant or berry it does not mean that a human can eat the same plant or berry.
|Yew (berries)||Sunflower (all parts if eaten in excess)|
|Privet (berries)||Cherry Trees (leaves)|
|Castor Bean (seeds) ||Rhubarb (leaves)|
|Burning Bush (berries)||Rhododendron (leaves)|
|Chokecherry (bark-leaves)||Poison Ivy (all parts)|
|Black Locust (seeds)||Apple (seeds if eaten in excess)|
|Lily Of Valley (seeds)||Eggplant (all but the fruit)|
Butterflies make a lovely ornament in a garden, and creating a butterfly garden is fun for the gardener and rewarding for the butterflies. You can attract butterflies for much of the year by growing succession of flowers and herbs that bloom from spring through fall. Butterflies have a few simple needs; sunlight, nectar sources, host plants on which to lay eggs, water, basking areas and roosting areas.
Food has to be available for the adult butterflies (which sip nectar) and for their caterpillar offspring (who eat specific plants). Some of the nectar plants for butterflies are Aster, Liatris, Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower, and Butterfly Bush. Most flowering herbs are also popular with butterflies. Try staggering wild and cultivated plants, as well as blooming times of the day and year. Groups of the same plants will be easier for butterflies to see than singly planted flowers. Place short species in front and tall ones in back, and clump them by species and color. Butterflies are attracted particularly to red, yellow, orange, and purple flowers. Avoid big showy flowers bred for their size; they are often poor sources of nectar.
Caterpillars are highly selective in what they eat, and somehow butterflies remember their youth well enough to lay eggs on appropriate plants. If you want butterflies in your garden, you will have to tolerate caterpillars munching on your plants from time to time. If caterpillars are eating excessive foliage from a prominent or desirable part of a plant, try moving them (with gloves on if they're hairy) to the backside or another less noticeable portion of the plant. Put in some extra plants and you may not even notice. Some species of butterfly larvae eat only one species of plant. The striking green, black and white/yellow caterpillar of the black swallowtail, for instance, prefers parsley, dill and fennel. A butterfly book or insect guide will list the various host plants.
Like all creatures, butterflies require moisture. They also need the minerals and nutrients they get from mud and muddy water. If you don't have a naturally wet or boggy area, water the same spot in the garden every day to create a small puddle. You can also submerge a bowl of water or wet sand in the ground and place soil around the edges. Overripe fruit, allowed to sit for a few days is a very attractive substance (to them!) as well.
Butterflies are most active in morning and afternoon before it gets hot. Since their enemies, such as birds, are active during the same time, butterflies need the shelter of shrubby plants where they can take refuge.
Locate your butterfly garden in a sunny area where it gets eight to ten hours of sunlight each day. An area that is sheltered from the wind is good for these lightweight creatures who need to bask frequently in the sun. Provide them some flat rocks for sunning and some shady spots for resting in the heat of the day.
Although we find them delightful to watch, butterflies are insects, of course, so go easy on insecticides in the garden.
Bees are vital to the pollination of many crops. As flowers and vegetables bloom, bees are out in force. To protect bees apply pesticides in the early morning or late evening, when bees are still in the hive. Dusts, especially Sevin Dust, are more harmful to bees than liquid sprays. Try not to dust if honeybees are in the area.
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, halved
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast meat
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground dry mustard
Step by Step:
- In a large bowl, mix together the onions, carrot, red pepper, peas, chicken, cilantro and almonds. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and dry mustard until smooth.
- Pour over salad mixture and toss until coated.
- Serve in pita pockets or on a bed of lettuce.