When to pick peaches – “Peaches are best when ripened on the tree, but fruit growers may wish to pick a bit early to prevent damage from birds, have a higher pectin content for jams and jellies or to have firmer fruit for canning,” Ward Upham of K-State says. “Peaches that are mature enough to pick are still hard. They do not give when lightly squeezed. However, these peaches will ripen off the tree and will have very good quality. They may not be quite as sweet as a tree-ripened peach but are still very good.”
There are a couple of factors to look for in deciding when a peach is mature enough to pick, he says. One is the ground color – the part that does not turn red. The red coloration is not a good indicator of maturity. If the ground color has lost its greenish tinge and turned yellow, check for ease of removal. A mature peach will separate easily from the branch if the peach is lifted and twisted, Upham says. If it doesn’t, it is not mature enough to pick yet.
All peaches will not be ready to pick at the same time. It often takes three to five pickings to harvest a peach tree, Upham says.
“Peaches that are picked early but will be used for fresh eating should be allowed to ripen inside at room temperature. Once they are ripe, they can be refrigerated to preserve them for enjoyment over a longer period of time.”
If you don’t have your own peaches, seize the day to visit an area orchard.
Keeping the lawn alive – A healthy lawn can stay dormant for a good five weeks and still recover, Upham says. But then it needs some water to keep the crown hydrated and the plant alive. Apply about 1/4 inch of water every two weeks to hydrate the crown, he says.
If your lawn has been overwatered, it has a limited root system and needs to slowly enter dormancy. “This is done by shutting off the water gradually,” Upham says. “For example, instead of watering several times a week, wait a week before irrigating. Then don’t water again for two weeks. Thereafter, water every two weeks as described above.
“If you are wondering if the turf is still alive, pull up an individual plant and separate the leaves from the crown. The crown is the area between the leaves and the roots. If it is still hard and not papery and dry, the plant is still alive.
“When rains and cooler weather arrive, the turf should come out of dormancy. However, we will probably have to deal with weeds that germinate before the turfgrass grows enough to provide good cover.”
Tomato color – When temperatures are over 95, red pigments don’t form properly in tomatoes, Upham says. Tomatoes may in that case ripen an orange color (as edible as ever). If you remove them just as they are starting to turn color and have them ripen in lower temperatures (75 to 85 is best), they will develop the normal color.
Blossom-end rot – If you see a sunken, brown, leathery patch on the bottom of tomatoes, it is blossom-end rot. Consistent watering, mulching and not overfertilizing are about the only things you can do to help avoid it. It is a temporary condition, and the plant should come out of it in a few weeks, Upham says. You can remove affected fruit to encourage new tomatoes.
Bitter cucumbers – To avoid bitter cucumbers, Upham advises: newer varieties that are less likely to become bitter; well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5; plenty of organic matter also helps; mulch; adequate water, especially during the fruiting season; and disease and insect control.
A fall garden – The first crops of a fall garden can now be started, Upham says. Members of the cabbage family – cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower – can be either seeded directly in the garden or started in pots for transplanting about mid-August.
Plant slightly deeper than you would in the spring so the seed stays cooler and the soil around the seed stays moist longer. Plant more thickly and thin later. The plants may need to be protected from rabbits through the use of fencing.
Use light amounts of fertilizer before planting. For example, apply 1/4 cup of a low-analysis fertilizer (6-7-7) per 10 feet of row. Sidedress two weeks after transplanting or four weeks after sowing seed by applying 2 tablespoons of a 16-0-0 or 1 tablespoon of a 27-3-3, 30-3-4 fertilizer, or something similar per plant.
Watering must be done more often to keep the seedlings from drying out. Apply a light sprinkling of peat moss, vermiculite or compost directly over the row after seeding if you plan to water from above. Better is to use a soaker hose right next to the row to allow water to slowly seep into the ground.
Plants should be ready for harvest in late September to early October, with broccoli side shoots developing well into November, weather permitting, Upham says.
Plant a Row for the Hungry – If you have produce you can’t use or that you’d like to donate to the needy, here are the locations for Plant a Row for the Hungry. The locations accept donations during business hours for the Kansas Food Bank:
Kansas Food Bank, 1919 E. Douglas; Augusta Ace Home Center, 316 W. Seventh Ave. in Augusta; Brady Nursery, 11200 W. Kellogg; Hillside Nursery, 2200 S. Hillside; Hillside Feed and Seed, 1805 S. Hillside; Johnson’s Garden Centers, 802 N. Ridge Road, 21st and Woodlawn, 2707 W. 13th St.; Valley Feed & Seed, 1903 S. Meridian.
Birding at Botanica – Take a walk through Botanica while bird-watching at 9 a.m. Tuesday. It’s included in Botanica admission.
Tornado-alley talk – Jay Price, director of the public history program, and WSU graduate student Keith Wondra will share excerpts from their book, “Kansas in the Heart of Tornado Alley.” It explores the relationships between the people of Kansas and tornadoes and also the ways in which tornados have shaped the lives of Kansans. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.
The book will be available for purchase. Lunch is catered by Truffles and is available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.