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Gardener's almanac (May 14)

Gardening hot and cold — After a record 100 degrees this week, the forecast now dips us back into the 40s at night. What's a tropical plant lover to do? Houseplants can go out when temperatures consistently are above 55, and I thought we were there last week, but apparently not. Keep an eye on the forecast, and you may have to cart some plants into the garage.

Rose rosette — Extension agent Bob Neier this week saw the first signs of rose rosette of the year. Among the symptoms: very red witches'-broom growth and excessive thorns. There is no cure for rose rosette. "My recommendation is to immediately remove all plants showing any symptoms," Bob says. "And not replant roses in that area until next year.

"This disease was first thought to be spread by pruning and grafting (so just pruning out the damage just spreads it), and it is now known to spread by the eriophyid mites through the wind."

Infected rose plants should be destroyed to avoid the mites spreading to other roses.

Where's the fruit? — The Extension Service has been getting calls about the lack of fruit on trees and blackberry plants this year, extension agent Rebecca McMahon says.

"There are a couple of things that happened in the past year resulting in little to no fruit this year," she says.

* First, fruit trees including peaches, plums and some cherries could not take the low temperatures we had last winter. They may have lost most or all of their fruit buds to the cold.

* Second, most fruit trees, especially apples and pears, produce little if any fruit the year after they have a heavy crop. The tree is not able to develop flower buds for the next year when it is putting all its energy into growing a heavy fruit crop. This process is called biennial bearing. The way to prevent this is to thin the fruit load so that there is only one fruit every four to eight inches on the tree during a year when there is heavy fruiting. This allows the tree to save energy to produce fruit the following year.

* Most blackberries are only hardy to zone 6, so the out-of-zone temperatures last winter killed most of last year's new growth. There will be few blackberries this year. Prune out the dead canes, and let the new canes grow for next year.

If a tree is not producing this year, make sure to fertilize it and water it as necessary to keep it strong and healthy for next year, Rebecca says.

Plant — Beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, lettuce, peppers, okra, pumpkins (wait until later in June for Halloween-timed harvest), sweet corn, tomatoes, squash.

Daylily sale — The Prairie Winds Daylily Society will have a sale of daylilies today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until sold out in Botanica's parking lot. There will be a variety of colors, types and sizes, all grown here by club members.

Old Sunnyside Nursery now community garden— Garden plots are available for rent at the site of the old Sunnyside Nursery, now home of Journey Covenant Church, 9999 E. Harry. The church is getting a late start on openin g the garden, so it is charging only $15 for a 10-by-20-feet plot. You can sign up in person from 10 a.m. to noon today at the church or call Alan Roth at 316-260-4454.

Last day for FloraKansas — Today is the last day of the FloraKansas plant sale at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. From 8 a.m. to noon, Scott Vogt, arboretum horticulturist, will be on hand to answer questions about landscaping with native plants and xeriscaping with perennials. The sale goes until 4 p.m.

Birding at Botanica — The next birdwalk at Botanica will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday. It's included in Botanica admission.

Windmill talk — Betty Suntheimer, Botanica volunteer, has researched and photographed various windmills across the Kansas countryside and will give people a look at them during a lunchtime lecture Wednesday at Botanica. "Blowing in the Wind" will be from 12:15 to 1 p.m. and is included in Botanica admission. Syl's Catering will be selling lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7.

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