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Gardener's Almanac

Hit and miss — I went into Dillons at Central and Rock Road on Wednesday night and came out to drenching rain. Got home and, while my clothes were wet, the streets were dry. Makes me crazy.

I went on to receive a report that South Webb Road had winds so high it looked like weeds had been pulled out of the ground and scattered along the road.

Breathe deeply, I tell myself. Patience.

Fall vegetable gardening — Another spike in the temperature has made it more difficult to get the fall garden going or keep it alive. Plant seeds more deeply this time of year than you did in the spring, to take advantage of cooler temperatures and more moisture below. Plant kale, lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets and turnips.

Picking pears — Pears should not be allowed to ripen on the tree, Ward Upham of K-State says, but should be picked while firm. Look for these indicators, he says:

* A change in the background color from a dark green to light green or yellowish green.

* Fruit parts easily from the branch when it is lifted up and twisted.

* Corking over of lenticels, the breathing pores of the fruit. They start out white to greenish white and turn brown as the fruit nears maturity.

* Development of characteristic pear aroma and taste of sampled fruit.

Pears ripen one to three weeks after harvest if held at 60 to 65 degrees, Upham says. They can then be canned or preserved. If you want to store some for ripening later, fresh-picked fruit should be placed in cold storage at 29 to 31 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Ripen small amounts as needed by moving them to a warmer location at 60 to 65 degrees. Storing at 75 degrees and higher will result in the fruit breaking down without ripening, Upham says.

Put it on your calendar — The Wichita Area Garden Railway Tour is set for Sept. 17.

Daylily talk — Connie True, a member of the Wichita Daylily Club, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about dividing, planting, hybridizing and caring for daylilies as well as to answer questions about them. The talk is timed ahead of the club's annual sale (see next item). The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission. Syl's Catering will serve lunch for $7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Daylily sale — The annual daylily sale by the Wichita Daylily Club Sale will be Saturday, Aug. 27, at Botanica from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Note that the date is given incorrectly in Botanica's Cultivate newsletter and on its website; the sale will be on a Saturday as usual.) There will be a wide range of colors, and prices will range from $2 to $20. Plants from the club's display gardens at Botanica will be on a special table (the club is making room for new ones in 2012).

Tuesdays on the Terrace — Salvia and Screwdrivers will be the theme of the next Tuesdays on the Terrace at Botanica. Band of Oz will perform and cocktails and other beverages will be for sale from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on the terrace. The gardens will be open until 8 p.m. The happening is included in Botanica admission or membership.

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