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Gardener’s almanac (Aug. 4)

  • Published Saturday, August 4, 2012, at 7:45 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, August 4, 2012, at 7:46 a.m.

Spider mites – Unlike most other living things, spider mites love dry weather. So, naturally, they can be found on all kinds of plants this summer. Look for the telltale white speckled leaves, or put a white sheet of paper underneath a leaf, shake the leaf and look for movement. Try strong blasts of water from the hose on leaves, including undersides, to try to dislodge them. You can also use horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or miticides; be sure to avoid the hottest parts of the day for that job and do it in the morning or evening, extension agent Rebecca McMahon says. Plant injury can result if you apply any miticide, insecticide or fungicide when the air temperature is above 85 degrees, Raymond Cloyd, K-State Research and Extension entomologist, says.

“Mites aren’t an insect. They’re in a whole different family, along with spiders, ticks and scorpions,” Cloyd says. “Spraying an infested plant with an insecticide simply eliminates the mites’ natural enemies. Applications of carbaryl (Sevin, Adios, and Slam) have paved the way for some notably severe spider mite outbreaks.”

Fall gardening, anyone? – If you want to start a fall garden now, start as much as you can from seed indoors and put transplants out in mid- to late August, Rebecca says. This works particularly well for lettuce, which transplants well, she says. You can also wait until late August and early September to plant, because these kinds of plants are very cold-tolerant.

Emerald ash borer – You may have heard that the dreaded emerald ash borer has been found in Kansas City, and it also is expanding in southern Missouri. Keeping trees healthy and buying firewood that is only from our area are two things we can do to delay as long as possible its incursion here. Extension agent Bob Neier said he learned that imidacloprid drenches on or before April 1 each year help prevent the insect from entering ash. The borer has killed more than 50 million ash trees in the United States in the past 10 years.

Salsa winners – Paula Webb won the fresh-salsa contest at Tomato Day with her Cinco de Mayo salsa. Kristen Womack won the preserved-salsa contest with her Fiesta Salsa.

Here’s the recipe for the fresh salsa:

Cinco de Mayo Salsa

1½ pounds tomatoes, diced

½ cup finely diced onion

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pinch cayenne pepper or more to taste

2 tablespoons lime juice

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

1 pinch sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Drain tomatoes. Mix all ingredients and refrigerate 1 hour.

Garden events

Master gardener recruitment meeting – People who are interested in applying to be a master gardener are asked to attend an informational meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road. Applications will be available and are due Aug. 10.

The cost for the program, which includes volunteering, is $100. Need-based scholarships are available to cover part of the cost.

Training will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays this fall.

Water talk – Kay Drennen from the Wichita Water Center will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about where Wichita’s rainwater goes and about new water projects around town.

The lunchtime lecture will be at 12:15 p.m. and is included in Botanica admission.

Lunch from Syl’s will be available for sale from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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