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Gardener’s almanac (Aug. 3)

  • Published Saturday, August 3, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Ripening melons — Ward Upham of K-State gives these tips for telling when a melon is ripe enough to pick, either from the vine or at the market:

• Muskmelons (aka cantaloupes) tell you when they’re ready to be picked. Put a little pressure where the vine attaches to the fruit. If ripe, it will release, or "slip."

When shopping for the melons, look for a clean, dish-shaped scar and a pleasant, musky aroma at room temperature.

• Watermelons can be more difficult to gauge. Growers look for these things:

1. For the tendril that attaches at the same point as the melon to dry and turn brown. On some varieties this will need to be completely dried before the watermelon is ripe, and on others it will only need to be in the process of turning brown.

2. The surface develops a surface roughness near the base.

3. A yellow coloration on the area of the melon that has contact with the ground.

• Ripe honeydew melons become soft on the flower end, opposite where the stem attaches, and they should change to a light or yellowish color when ripe, but this varies with variety.

Plant — Green beans, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, endive, cauliflower, kale, beets.

Holey leaves — If you have noticed small holes in the buds of flowers, it may be tobacco (geranium) budworm, Upham says. The budworm particularly likes geraniums and petunias. Damaged buds often fail to open, and those that do have chewed-on petals.

Controlling the budworm is difficult, Upham says. If you have small plantings, you can try hand-picking at dusk. For larger plantings, look for products with synthetic pyrethroid active ingredients such as permethrin, esfenvalerate, cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin or related compounds, or spinosad (Borer, Bagworm, Leafminer and Tent Caterpillar Spray; Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew).

Severe winters can be a natural form of control from one year to the next, Upham says. Temperatures below 20 will kill overwintering pupa, while areanext to heated buildings may allow them to survive.

Garden events

Tuesdays on the Terrace — Aaron Lee Martin will provide the music Tuesday when Cannas and Continental Sours is the theme of Tuesdays on the Terrace at Botanica. Drinks and dinner will be for sale. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the gardens are open until 8. Admission is $7, or $3 for members.

Preserve Your Harvest talk — Denise Dias, foods and nutrition extension agent, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to teach the basics of preserving your garden harvest, including by drying, making jellies, pressure canning and freezing.

Master gardener information meeting — An informational meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday for people who are interested in applying to be a master gardener in Sedgwick County. At the meeting, which will be at the Extension Center at 21st and Ridge Road, applications will be handed out, and current master gardeners will talk about their experiences.

To apply to be a master gardener, you must be a Sedgwick County resident who is available to take classes during the day and to volunteer in the community. The cost is $100 for the class; need-based scholarships are available. For more information, call 316-660-0138.

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