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Wichita gardener’s almanac for Aug. 15

Shield-shaped stink bugs cause cloudy spots on tomatoes.
Shield-shaped stink bugs cause cloudy spots on tomatoes. Tribune

Get a fall garden going — The weather has cooled down a little – maybe even enough to plant a fall garden. “Plant salad crops such as lettuce, radishes, spinach, turnips, mustard and other greens from mid-August to early September for a fall harvest,” Ward Upham of K-State writes in the Horticulture 2015 newsletter. “Plant slightly deeper than you did in the spring. This will keep the seed slightly cooler though still warm, and the soil should retain moisture longer. Water frequently (if needed) until seedlings start to emerge – which should be fast with our warmer soils. Watering heavy soils can sometimes cause a crust to form. This can be prevented by a light sprinkling of peat moss, vermiculite or compost directly over the row. Reduce watering frequency after plants emerge. Plants may need to be protected from hungry rabbits and insects.”

Kale, beets and turnips also can be planted now.

Stink-bugged tomatoes — Upham says he’s seen more stink bugs on his green tomatoes than ever before. Stinkbugs are shield-shaped bugs that pierce tomatoes, causing cloudy golden-yellow, pink and white spots that can spread, often causing tomatoes to turn a golden color. The tissue under the wound becomes hard and whitish, Upham says. The tomatoes are safe to eat, he says, and there’s nothing you can do to control the bugs, since they’re usually gone by the time you notice the damage. Anyway, if you disturb them, they stink!

Get your perennial and strawberry fertilizing done — Fertilize roses and other perennials for the last time this year now, in mid-August, to avoid encouraging growth later on that might result in winter kill. It is also time to fertilize strawberries.

Garden events

Asters & Apple Sparkles — The Appleseed Collective will perform at Tuesdays on the Terrace from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Botanica. Asters & Apple Sparkles is the theme. Admission is $7, $3 for members. Dinner from Blue Moon Caterers will be for sale for $8, and drinks also will be sold. The gardens are open until 8.

“From Prairie to Plate” — Eagle outdoors writer Michael Pearce will be at Botanica on Wednesday to share recipes and game-food preparation tips from his book, “Michael Pearce’s Taste of the Kansas Outdoors Cookbook.” Autographed copies will be available for sale. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15 p.m., is included in Botanica admission or membership. Lunch by Syl’s will be for sale for $8 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Photography-tips event — The Wichita Camera Club will have stations set up around Botanica on Thursday evening to give people hands-on help in taking outdoor photos. “Shooting Photos: A Walk in the Park” will begin with a discussion and then go out to the stations for work on macro shooting, stills, portraits and landscapes. It will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and the cost is $15, $10 for members. Reserve a spot by calling Mitzie Hall at 316-264-0448, ext. 117, or go online to botanica.org by Wednesday.

Annie Calovich