Master gardener provides tips
Barb Larson, Kenosha County UW-Extension Horticulture Educator, and master gardener volunteers were on hand at the Prairie Springs Park earlier this afternoon. Larson gave a presentation entitled, “Gardening in the Hot Weather.” Larson explained how placing organic mulch around your plants keeps the moisture in, which is very helpful in this heat. She prefers straight compost, as opposed to soil and compost mixtures, for raised beds because it is easy to work in, and plants grow well in it.
Larson said that herbs are easy to grow, and require little to no fertilizer. “In fact,” she said, “to ensure the most flavorful herbs, don’t fertilize. The essential oils, which provide fragrance and flavor, will then be enhanced.”
One of the participants asked Larson about her thyme and cilantro which she had growing in pots on her deck. Both died, even though she was watering them daily. Larson asked her if they had full sun, and if they were in pots with holes at the bottom. They were. “The cilantro was more than likely done,” Larson said. “If there were flowers and seeds, even though there was only one stalk, it would be done. It is an annual. It grows best in cool temperatures. But, they can be replanted all the time.” Larson thought the thyme might have been too wet. “It is a Mediterranean plant. It prefers a rocky garden. If it gets too wet, the roots can rot. The best check is to stick your finger in the soil. If it’s moist, don’t water it. And, basil likes a better quality soil.”
Another participant asked about straw, because hers had weeds growing out of it. Larson said, “Ask for weed-free straw, and then keep your fingers crossed. The thickness for mulch depends on the plants. For vegetables and flowers, make the straw about 2 inches deep. Leave a bit of area exposed around the plant. If it’s right up against the plants, it will tend to rot.”
Daily watering of vegetables is not necessary. Larson said she prefers “less frequent watering, but watering more deeply. Water every two to three days, but make sure the water soaks in 4 to 6 inches into the soil.”
One of the ideas the other master gardeners tried this year was the use of floating row covers to keep bugs out of the garden. These would be put around your garden as soon as you put the seeds in the ground. But, for squash and cukes, for vegetables which are bee-pollinated, you would have to uncover them to let the bees in. The flexible PVC tubes can be purchased at Menard’s. Here is a picture of how this looks:
Japanese beetles and flea beetles can damage your garden. Larson said that LaCrosse is getting thousands of Japanese beetles. Tiny holes are created by the flea beetles. She recommends treating Japanese beetles as two separate insects: grubs, or larvae, and the adults. Adults can fly a mile and a half to five miles. “Never use adult beetle traps; it just attracts more beetles. And, remember, not all grubs are Japanese beetles. There are June beetles, too. If you don’t have 10 to 12 grubs per square foot, it’s not enough damage to worry about.”
“Should we take the leaves off of brussel sprouts?” “No,” said Larson. “Leave them on. Think about it. The less leaves there are, the less photosynthesis can take place. The less sugars are produced, etc. We want the leaves to do the work. Only take off the diseased or yellow leaves.”
Beans are really struggling this year, because of the hot temperatures. “At night, the temperatures were greater than 70 degrees. The flower buds drop off, and the pollen degrades in hot weather. With the 100-degree temperatures during the day, the night-time temperatures stayed at 75 degrees or higher. It’s an interesting phenomenon,” Larson said.
Larson showed the group the difference between the the male and females on the crook-neck squash plants. The first flowers are the males. These can be picked off first. One of the master gardeners had the idea of making an A-frame trellis for the squash, cukes, and cantaloupe to grow on because of the windy area. This will help support them better. Here’s a picture of how that looks:
If you have questions about your lawn or garden, the master gardeners are available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 am to 12 noon at the Kenosha County Center on the corner of Highways 45 and 50, in Bristol. You can stop in and visit them. Bring your questions or samples with you.
On Tuesday evenings, you can talk with the master gardens at the demonstration garden. The area is located near the north baseball field, on the west side of Lake Andrea.
You can also call the Yard and Garden Helpline at (262) 857-1942. Also, the master gardeners are available at the Harbor Market of Kenosha on Saturday mornings on the second and fourth Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm.
The next presentation will take place next month on “Fall Crops.”
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