Home & Garden

Wichita gardener’s almanac for May 30

Philip and Laura Knight’s backyard on Tara Lane in Vickridge is part of the garden tour this weekend.
Philip and Laura Knight’s backyard on Tara Lane in Vickridge is part of the garden tour this weekend. The Wichita Eagle

Drying out — Hopefully we’re getting to the point in our wet spring where we’re going to finally dry out. Wait to plant until the soil dries out to the point of being crumbly if you can, though in places that got hit with hail such as El Dorado, people are replanting tomatoes and other things now, and in that case, extension agent Bob Neier doesn’t blame them for mudding them in.

I had not mulched my garden before the rains came because it hadn’t gotten warm enough. If you haven’t mulched yet, wait still longer, Neier advises. “Wait till it dries out. That may be one week away – just a week without rain and you’re dry again.” Yes, I’m trying to imagine watering again.

Plant damage — Some plants are suffering from too much rain, Neier says. “Some things that look like they’re wilting really bad, pull the mulches away and let them dry out,” he says. He’s also seen samples of potato plants rotting out at ground level. In that case, use the potatoes – which may be close to harvest anyway – and remove the tops and destroy those, Neier says.

Mushrooms — Mushrooms have been coming up in the wet weather. A bunch came up in my yard like a bouquet. For the sake of safety, Neier recommends knocking mushrooms off and teaching kids not to eat them.

Hi ladybug — I’ve seen reports of lots of ladybugs, which is pretty normal in a wet spring, Neier says. Aphids love the lush growth, and ladybugs follow the aphids, which is what you want. “Leave them alone and let them do their job,” he says of the ladybugs.

Mowing wet grass — It’s been hard to get out and mow when it’s almost always raining. Ideally, you never remove more than one-third of the blade at one pass, but that can be hard to do when it’s too tall, Ward Upham of K-State says. When you are able to mow, set the mower at its highest setting, because it’s harmful to the health of the grass to remove too much of the blade at once. Then bring the height down gradually by mowing more often and at progressively lower heights until you get it back to normal, Upham says.

Plant — When it is dry enough to plant, these vegetables are on the calendar for late May and early June: beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, okra, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, squash, tomatoes.

Garden events

Garden tour this weekend — A tour of seven home gardens and one community garden, sponsored by the Sedgwick County Extension master gardeners, continues this weekend, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 at any of the gardens: 8309 W. Northridge Road (northeast of 21st and Tyler), 11304 W. Valley Hi Drive (southeast of 119th and Maple), 14106 W. Texas Circle (northwest of Maple and 135th), 3040 N. Cromwell (northeast of 29th and Amidon), 526 N. Tara Lane (northeast of Rock and Central), 702 Edgewater (southeast of Kellogg and 143rd), 6927 Odessa St. in Bel Aire (southeast of 45th and Woodlawn), Delano Community Garden at 200 S. Walnut.

Butterfly Festival — Botanica will open its butterfly house for the season at a festival from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be butterfly-related games and activities, and the first 100 children in attendance will be able to release a butterfly. The cost is $3 with a Wichita Riverfest button; otherwise, regular Botanica admission will be charged.

Morning Glories & Margaritas — Tuesdays on the Terrace returns next week to Botanica. Rudy Love Jr. will perform Tuesday, and dinner and cocktails will be available for sale. Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; the gardens are open until 8. Admission is $7 ($3 for members).

“Bees and Wild Pollinators: What Is Happening and How You Can Help” — Bee advocate Debbie McSweeney will give the lunchtime lecture at Botanica on Wednesday about bees. It’s at 12:15 p.m. and is included in admission. Lunch will be for sale for $8 extra from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Family Game Night — Botanica is open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer, and giant lawn games are available for kids to play with on Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30. Admission then is $3.

Annie Calovich