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Gardener’s almanac (May 17)

  • Published Saturday, May 17, 2014, at 7:22 a.m.

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Plant – Beans, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, lettuce, okra, pumpkins (wait until mid- to late June for Halloween-timed harvest), sweet corn, squash, tomatoes.

Mowing height – There’s a temptation to mow fescue short in order to decrease the frequency of mowing. But that can cause a fescue lawn to thin out, Ward Upham of K-State says, because it is an upright grower. “Cutting short will cause the plant to shift energy from root growth to shoot growth,” Upham writes in the Horticulture 2014 newsletter. “This can cause root systems to become shallow and weak. These weakened plants will often die out during the heat and drought of summer, requiring overseeding in the fall.”

Bermuda and zoysia can be cut shorter because they creep rather than grow upright. Here are the recommended mowing heights:

• Tall fescue: 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches

• Kentucky bluegrass: 2 to 3 inches

• Buffalo: 2 to 3 inches

• Bermuda: 1 to 2 inches

• Zoysia: 1 to 2 inches

Flea beetles on strawberries – Damage from flea beetles can be seen as a lacy appearance on strawberry-plant leaves, Upham says. To reduce the beetles in the future, he advises cleaning up weeds and other plant debris in and around beds, planting later when it’s warmer, rotating where you plant every year. If beetles are on the plants, use an insecticide such as cyfluthrin (Bayer Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray) or cyhalothrin (Spectracide Triazicide and Bonide Caterpillar Killer), Upham says.

Colorado potato beetle – Another day, another beetle. Colorado potato beetles eat leaves and reduce yields on potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. In a small garden, check plants a couple of times a week for beetles or larvae, picking them off and dropping them in a container of soapy water to kill them. You can also place a floating row cover over the plants, sealing the edges, or use an insecticide labeled for this use.

Garden events

Hosta lecture – In anticipation of Hostapalooza (details on Page 1C), Karl Miller of the Wichita Hosta Society will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about the three seasons of hostas. The society will also have some hostas available for sale. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15 p.m., is included in Botanica admission.

Bird walk at Botanica – The monthly walk through Botanica to see what kinds of birds are around will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday. It’s included in Botanica admission.

Split Lip Rayfield at arboretum – Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine will be open the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend for a concert featuring Wichita band Split Lip Rayfield. Gates will open at 3 p.m. May 25, and the show begins at 4. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Picnics are welcome, and food also will be for sale.

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