Happy summer! — Saturday is the first day of summer. The longest day of the year: bliss. The beginning of shorter days Sunday: Let’s not think about it.
Bird attack! — I was walking in College Hill Park last Sunday evening when I felt something smack me forcefully in the back of the head. My first thought was a soccer ball that had gone astray, but the only nearby players were on the tennis court. There were some limbs on the sidewalk, but they seemed too small to have covered the back of my head like a well-fitting punching glove.
I thought I heard a small buzzing noise darting around the grass on both sides of the sidewalk. Was it the aural version of seeing stars? I looked up and saw what I took to be a hawk circling above me, and then landing on a branch. It seemed to look down on me.
The next day I mentioned the smack to fellow reporter Beccy Tanner, and she immediately exclaimed the answer: a Mississippi kite! In reading a story written by Beccy a few years ago I learned that these small birds of prey have increasingly moved from the country into mature urban canopies, where they are very protective during nesting season.
Since then I’ve been wearing a hat on my walks, tempted to make it a bicycle helmet. And to put up a sign for my fellow park-goers and anyone else walking near big old trees: Beware. Attack birds above. I never saw it coming, even if I did see it go.
Plant — Sweet potatoes, sweet corn, winter squash, tomatoes, pumpkins.
Tomato diseases — Keep an eye on tomatoes for two diseases: Septoria leaf spot and early blight, which both show up as brown spots on the leaves, Ward Upham of K-State says. Chlorothalonil can be applied when the disease is first seen; if leaves are turning yellow and falling off, it’s too late to treat. It’s a good choice because it requires no waiting period for harvest once the spray is dry. It can be found in products including Fertilome Broad-Spectrum Landscape and Garden Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control and GardenTech Daconil.
Squash bugs — 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 or methoxychlor. The insects live on the underside of the leaves, so you must spray or dust the undersides, Upham says.
Elm flea weevil — In case you missed the story in Tuesday’s Eagle, a new pest is chewing holes in the leaves of some elm and lacebark elm trees in the Wichita area. The elm flea weevil does not threaten the health of trees, it just makes the leaves look bad.
Pond tour — This weekend is the Kansas Pond Society tour in Wichita and Derby. The tour will cover 13 locations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. (Botanica, one stop on the tour, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.) Tickets, which include addresses and maps, are $10 per car and available at garden centers, Botanica, Easton Sod Farm and Tails & Scales in Derby, and Atwoods in Andover.
College Hill Garden/Architectural/Historical Tour — The 200 and 300 blocks of North Roosevelt in College Hill will be the location for a walking tour Saturday. For $6, buy a ticket at one of the stations along the tour route for a brochure that includes historical and architectural information about all the houses on the block. Six of the houses will allow access to their gardens. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the College Hill Neighborhood Association.
Cucumber program — Extension agents will have a Saturday Sampler program on Saturday devoted to growing and cooking cucumbers. They will look at the cucumbers growing in the demo garden at the Extension Center at 21st and Ridge Road and talk about ways to serve up cucumbers. The program is at 9 a.m. in the demo garden and is free. The Kansas Grown Farmers Market will be taking place in the parking lot, where Mama’s Wranglers out of Las Vegas will perform from 9 to 11 a.m.
Uche at Botanica – Uche will perform at Tuesdays on the Terrace from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Botanica. The theme will be Vincas & Vodkaritas. Drinks will be for sale, and the gardens will be open until 8. Cover is $7, $3 for members.
Natural-landscape talk — Master gardener Cynthia Abbot will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about using native plants for landscaping and for restoring native habitat. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission.
Bartlett Arboretum concert next weekend — Jeff Scroggins and Colorado with Big Twang Redux (featuring Robin Macy) will perform June 29 at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine. Gates open at 3 p.m., and the show is at 4. Tickets are $10. Picnics are welcome, and food will also be for sale.