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Gardener’s almanac (June 22)

  • Published Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 6:56 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 7 a.m.

Full moon fever — The moon will be full at 6:32 a.m. Sunday. This will be the biggest moon we’ll see this year, as the moon will be closest to Earth.

Plant — Tomatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.

Tomato growing — Now that summer weather is upon us, our tomatoes usually have some sort of reaction:

• Tomato leaves are curling up in my garden; how about yours? It’s a reaction of a tomato plant to the first blast of summer, when there aren’t enough roots yet to sustain all the leaves that burst on the scene in the mildness of spring, Ward Upham of K-State says. Isn’t it interesting that the plant tries to reduce its leaf area by rolling its leaves? Other times when this can happen are after heavy cultivating or hoeing, a hard rain or any other change in weather, Upham says. Some varieties roll more than others, he says. Leaves should flatten back out in about a week.

• Small dark spots on the leaves are the result of Septoria leaf spot, and large spots that often have a distorted “target” pattern of concentric circles are early blight, Upham says. Try to give the plants good air circulation by keeping them mulched and caged or staked, he says. In the future, try to rotate where you plant tomatoes to avoid disease. But if you can’t, you can use a fungicide, Upham says, being sure to cover upper and lower leaf surfaces, and reapplying after a rain. “Plants usually become susceptible when the tomato fruit is about the size of a walnut,” Upham says. “Chlorothalonil is a good choice for fruiting plants because it has a 0-day waiting period, meaning that fruit can be harvested once the spray is dry. Chlorothalonil can be found in numerous products including Fertilome Broad-Spectrum Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control, GardenTech Daconil and others. Be sure to start protecting plants when the disease is first seen. It is virtually impossible to stop it on heavily infected plants.”

• Have you fertilized since you planted your tomatoes? They should be sidedressed with a nitrogen fertilizer three times during the season, Upham says: one to two weeks before the first tomato ripens, two weeks after the first tomato ripens, and one month later. “Nitrogen-only fertilizers include nitrate of soda, urea, and ammonium sulfate. Blood meal is an organic fertilizer that contains primarily, but not exclusively, nitrogen,” Upham says. Ammonium sulfate (21-0-0): Apply 0.5 pounds (1 cup) fertilizer per 30 feet of row.

Tomatoes should be fertilized before planting and side-dressed with a nitrogen fertilizer three times during the season.

The first sidedressing should go down one to two weeks before the first tomato ripens. The second should be applied two weeks after the first tomato ripens and the third one month after the second. Common sources of nitrogen-only fertilizers include nitrate of soda, urea and ammonium sulfate. Blood meal is an organic fertilizer that contains primarily, but not exclusively, nitrogen.

Hello, onions! — Onions are growing rapidly, and regular watering when it’s not raining and a light fertilization maximize that growth, Upham says. “Onions develop so that as much as 2/3 of the bulb remains out of the soil,” he says in the Horticulture 2013 newsletter. “This is normal, and there is no need to cover the bulb with soil. Onions are nearing harvest time when the tops begin to fall over. You may wish to break over the tops that haven’t fallen to encourage drying of the neck. Allow a few days to pass and then dig the onions to insure they don’t sunburn. Temporarily store them in a dry, well-ventilated area for a week or two before cutting the tops to insure the necks are completely dry. Remove the foliage (or braid the leaves) and store in a cool, dry location.”

Squash bug — Squash bugs are gray, shield-shaped bugs that feed on squash and pumpkin plants and must be treated when they are small, Upham says. On young, soft-bodied squash bugs, he says, use a general-use insecticide such as permethrin (Bug-B-Gon Multi-Purpose Garden Dust, Green Thumb Multipurpose Garden and Pet Dust, Bug-No-More Yard and Garden Insect Spray, Eight Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Concentrate, Garden, Pet and Livestock Insect Control, Lawn & Garden Insect Killer), malathion, rotenone or methoxychlor. The insects live on the underside of the leaves, so you must spray or dust the undersides, Upham says.

Brown spots on bean leaves — If you see brown splotches on the leaves of bean plants, it may be a bacterial problem, extension agent Rebecca McMahon says. This is a reminder not to water from above, because splashing water spreads disease. Remove diseased leaves. If the plant is not worth saving, remove it and dispose of it, not tilling it in or composting it, McMahon says. In the future, look for disease resistance in the varieties of beans you plant, she says.

Check rain sensors — If you have a rain sensor on your sprinkler system, check it periodically to be sure it’s still in good shape. Hail, for example, can break the sensors, extension agent Bob Neier says.

Drought effects — Junipers and cedars are still dying from drought, either branch by branch or quickly, Neier says. Once you’ve cut so many dead branches from a tree that it no longer looks good, it’s time to cut it down.

Garden events

Jim Mason on butterfly gardening — Naturalist Jim Mason will talk about butterfly gardening and identifying butterflies at the meeting of the Prairie Winds Daylily Society at 7 p.m. Monday at Botanica. The meeting is free and open to the public, and there will also be drawings for door prizes.

Weather folklore talk — Retired meteorologist Dick Elder will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about whether there’s any truth to weather folklore such as “Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” His lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.

Eco-Awareness Day — Botanica will have an Eco-Awareness Day on Saturday with demonstrations, music, storytelling and eco-craft stations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Green Goddess smoothies will be for sale. It’s included in Botanica admission or membership.

Daylily show — The Wichita Daylily Club will have its annual daylily show from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Botanica, with a variety of daylilies on display. There will also be a mini sale of daylilies. Admission to the show is free, but Botanica admission will be charged if you want to go into the gardens.

Tuesdays on the Terrace — Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy will perform Tuesday at Tuesdays on the Terrace at Botanica. The theme will be Begonias and Beer. The Flying Stove will have food for sale, and The Bar’s Open will have cocktails, beer and other beverages for sale. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; the gardens will be open until 8. Admission is $7, or $3 for members.

Bartlett Arboretum concert — Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine will host Grammy-nominated Oklahoma songwriter John Fullbright on June 30. Gates will open at 3 p.m., and the concert will be at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Picnics are welcome, and food also will be for sale.

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