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Gardener's Almanac

Mulch tomatoes — Some people may consider Memorial Day the kick-off to summer, but here's a sign for gardeners: K-State has declared it warm enough to mulch tomatoes.

Writes Ward Upham of K-State: "Hay and straw mulches are popular for tomatoes but may contain weed or volunteer grain seeds. Grass clippings can also be used but should be applied as a relatively thin layer — only 2 to 3 inches thick. Clippings should also be dry, as wet clippings can mold and become so hard that water can't pass through. Also, do not use clippings from lawns that have been treated with a weed killer until some time has passed. If only homeowner-type weed killer has been applied, clippings from the fourth mowing after treatment may be used. If the lawn is commercially sprayed and a product containing quinclorac has been applied, the clippings should not be used as mulch."

Fertilizing Bermuda, zoysia and buffalograss — If you fertilize warm-season grass only once a year (and it doesn't need much more than that), June is the time to do it. Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Too much fertilizer leads to thatch in warm-season grasses, so it's better to use a lighter touch rather than a heavier one.

Bermuda can be fertilized a couple more times, with a four-week break in between (fertilize no later than Aug. 15. You can use a slow- or quick-release source of nitrogen.

Zoysia can be fertilized in early June and again in mid-July. Slow-release nitrogen is preferable, but quick-release will do.

Buffalo needs the least amount of fertilizer but does benefit from one application in early June. Slow-release nitrogen is better, but quick-release is acceptable.

If a soil test shows that you need to apply phosphorus or potassium, it is best to core-aerate beforehand to help the nutrients reach the roots. Iron is occasionally needed, especially where soil pHs are above 7.0 to 7.5.

Little barley — I see little barley in the lawn these days. It is a winter annual that will die in the hot weather, Upham of K-State says. I can live with that. A pre-emergence herbicide can be applied in September to prevent it, Upham says.

Side-dressing vegetables — Before garden vegetables becomes sides on our table, we need to side-dress them in the garden, especially after all the rain we've had. If plants are pale and not growing robustly, there's your sign. Use a fertilizer that's main nitrogen, such as nitrate of soda (16-0-0), Upham says. Apply at the rate of 2 pounds (equals 2 pints) per 100 feet of row. High nitrogen lawn fertilizers such as a 27-3-3, 30-3-4 or 29-5-4 can be used at a rate of 1 pound (1 pint) per 100 feet of row, he says. As always, do not use lawn fertilizers that contain weed killers or weed preventers.

Planting calendar _ Plant plants of sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and basil. Seed directly in the ground cucumbers, summer squash including zucchini, okra, and melons.

Anthracnose — If leaves are looking wilted and/or falling from your sycamore tree, it's probably anthracnose, a common occurrence in a wet spring. Maple, ash, birch, elm, walnut and oak trees also can be affected, Upham says. There's no need to take action; the trees should renew themselves with healthy leaves before long.

Brown Bag Lunch in the Garden — Starting this Friday, you can bring a lunch to the master gardeners' demonstration garden at 21st and Ridge Road and learn about what's happening in the garden. In addition, a vegetable or herb that is in its prime will be highlighted, including harvest and storage tips and recipes. The sessions will be from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. each Friday through Sept. 10.

Tuesdays on the Terrace — Every Tuesday of summer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., starting this Tuesday, Botanica will feature cocktails and other beverages for sale and music on Botanica's terrace from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. along with a chance to stroll the gardens until 8 p.m. The theme this Tuesday will be Magnolias and Martinis, and live music will be by Amanda Lind. The event is included in regular Botanica admission or membership.

Go Play Kansas — Scott Wadle of goPLAY Kansas will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about the non-profit organization that wants to help people connect to the environment and increase physical activity in the state. GoPLAY has an interactive database of parks, trails, open spaces and recreational activities in Wichita and the rest of south-central Kansas. The lunchtime lecture starts at 12:15 and is included in Botanica admission. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by Sweet Basil for $7.

Play date — Evergreen Park is the first place that g2g Outside is inviting families to visit to get kids outside this summer. From 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, the outdoor play program will have a play date for families and kids of all ages at the park at 25th and North Arkansas. It is free. Also see the website www.g2goutside.org starting Tuesday for activities that connect to the unstructured time outdoors. —Annie Calovich

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