Home & Garden

Gardener's almanac

In the vegetable garden _ Here's what's going on in the vegetable garden this week, extension agent Rebecca McMahon reports:

* We planted okra and cantaloupe in the areas where we harvest onions, potatoes, and cabbage.

* We are seeing more tomato and pepper flowers, and hope that more mild temperatures this week will result in more fruit set. Some pepper plants already have lots of peppers set, while others are still waiting.

* We're beginning to see squash, cucumbers and melons flowering and developing fruit on earlier plantings.

* Damage from 2,4-D herbicide continues to be a problem for many gardeners, especially on tomatoes. This injury typically appears as stunted, distorted, curled and webbed new growth on plants, especially tomatoes and grapevines. The herbicide can volatilize in the air and travel long distances. Be careful not to use this herbicide near your garden or on a windy day. Encourage your neighbors to be careful as well, especially to avoid spraying on a windy day. Moderately affected plants will often grow out of any damage and still be productive. Severely affected plants should be removed and replanted.

* Hot, dry weather alternating with heavy rain showers is causing tomatoes to show physiological leaf curl. This is not a problem that is fixable; you just have to make sure your plants are getting enough water and wait for them to grow stronger root systems.

You can catch Rebecca in person each Friday this summer for Lunch in the Garden at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road. It's from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m., and you can bring a lunch if you like. Rebecca will give tips, prepare a dish to sample and have a recipe to give you. Lunch in the Garden next Friday will highlight beets.

Halloween crop _ Plant pumpkins in late June for a Halloween-timed harvest.

Thin fruit — June typically sees fruit dropping from trees to naturally ensure that the remaining fruit matures, Ward Upham of K-State says. You may need to do your own thinning to get the biggest and best quality fruit. Use these guides, which are just averages; some fruit may be closer in places, he says:

* Apples: 4 inches

* Apricots: 2 inches

* Peaches: 6 to 8 inches. Start thinning after June drop six to eight weeks after full bloom.

* Pears: Require little fruit thinning. Bartlett, Hardy and Bosc may set heavy crops of three to five fruits per spur and need hand thinning to one to two per spur. Thin 50 to 70 days after full bloom.

* Plums: 1 to 3 inches.

Organic pest-control talk _ Melvin Epp will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about organic pest control. When organic chemicals are used, timing and repetition are part of the equation. The lunchtime lecture, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., is included in Botanica admission.

Moonflowers and Margaritas _ That's the theme of Tuesdays on the Terrace next Tuesday at Botanica. You can buy drinks and hear the band RKO Blues on the terrace from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner if you like. The gardens are open until 8.