Reap your rewards as summer crops ripen

The summer crops are starting to come in and I love it. Jack, our neighbor who graciously grows tomatoes in his fenced garden for me, reports there are flowers and fruit aplenty in the tomato patch. A few are almost ready to eat. The roadside farm markets are multiplying—the one here in nearby Coopersburg just opened for the season and I’ve seen a few signs for local produce when I make my almost weekly trip to the Quakertown Farmers Market aka Q-mart). So after all the work you put into your garden so far, be sure to harvest your rewards regularly. While you are out there, check carefully for hornworm caterpillars and hand pick them off the plants. That is, unless their backs are covered with small white eggs, resembling white grains of rice. Leave those caterpillars alone. They are already doomed as when the eggs hatch, the larvae of the parasitic wasp will devour them.

A favorite childhood memory is picking a ripe tomato from the backyard garden and eating it, still warm from the sun, as part of my breakfast. My mother and sister Pat looked forward to stirring up fried tomatoes from any that got too ripe or split too badly. Now, those damaged or overripe tomatoes go in the oven with garlic and basil for a roasted tomato sauce.

Sue Kittek


Sue Kittek

A Reader’s Experience with Rose Rosette Disease

I asked readers to tell me about their experiences with rose rosette disease. Here is one reader’s report:

You recently mentioned rose rosette disease (Help for Gardeners, in The Morning Call, July 1, p. 21).

I don’t know if things have changed re: that problem, but I suspect not or not much since my experience with it. As you mentioned, it is totally untreatable/incurable, and also highly transmissible.

Some years ago I had a huge, very beautiful climber that covered most of the southwest side of our house and extended out along our front porch roof; many drivers would stop in our side alley to admire it. Very sadly, it got rose rosette (as you noted, it is transmitted by mites, impossible to keep them off if they’re around and carrying the disease). As I recall, the leaf lesions were very distinctive and unmistakable; anyone can check photos online.

My main advise concerning rose rosette, other than to curse and weep and get rid of every speck of the plant (and avoid planting any rose near that spot for at least several years), is to not compost any of it, or send it to possibly be composted like by a local government. Please, please make sure it all goes to be buried deep and permanently in a landfill never able to transmit that nasty disease.

I cut down the entire plant, and dug and pulled out as much of the roots as deeply as I could dig, every speck I could get. Then I cut it all up, and buried: it a bit at a time in garbage/trash that would definitely go to the landfill, carefully hiding it so that trash haulers wouldn’t see it and put it with the plant material that might be composted. I wanted to take no chance of helping transmit rose rosette to any other garden,

We have had no recurrence of rose rosette, thank goodness. My sincere sympathies to anyone who gets this nasty problem they should know that quick, decisive action as described here (and I’m sure in the sources you cited) is essential

— Yours truly, Penn T. Clissold, Whitehall

Correction to Show Dates and Times

I misstated the times and days of a garden event in a previous column:

Bethlehem Garden Club: A Standard Flower Show 3-8 p.m. July 21  and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 22 at the First Presbyterian Church, 2344 Center St., Bethlehem. The show is open 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to floral designs and horticultural samples, there will be vignettes, table settings, decorated toys, miniature and a plant sale. There will be a pastry cafe on site. The show is open to the public; admission is free.

Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer.  Send questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

Week in the Garden

Planting: Start sowing seeds in flats for fall flowers like pansies and snapdragons or ornamental foliage plants like mustard, cabbage and kale. Plant but protect from heat: late-season cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas and broccoli for late summer or early fall harvest. Sow seeds that require a cold period for germination. Poppies are one example. Asters and mums are starting to appear on the market. Start thinking about adding to your fall display, either in the garden or as part of a container display. Hold new plants until the weather cools. Gather them together to make watering easier.

Seasonal: Stake tall flowers and provide supports for vining plants. Allow the final flush of flowers to go to seed. Many provide food for the birds and small mammals during the fall and winter. Take cuttings of those annuals that you want to winter over. Order asparagus, rhubarb, bulbs, flower and fruit plants and shrubs for fall planting. Shop nurseries for end-of-season bargains or new fall arrivals. Weed often and cut off flowers of any weeds you don’t get pulled out. Deadhead flowers and trim damaged, diseased and dead foliage to keep beds tidy and encourage reblooming. In particular, keep irises and daylilies from forming seedpods. Allow peony greens to grow until fall and then cut back. Prune summer-flowering shrubs about two weeks after flowering. Stop pinching back helenium, chrysanthemums and asters. Test soil for new beds, Retest soil in poorly performing areas or those that haven’t been tested in the last 3-5 years. Apply corn gluten based weed control in the garden and establish a schedule for reapplication, usually at four to six week intervals

Lawn: Purchase seed for fall lawn projects. Seed, overseed, dethatch and aerate lawns September through mid-October. Purchase broadleaf weed control. Apply broadleaf weed control, September through mid October. Plan sodding projects and order sod. Install sod as the weather cools, September and October. Treat for chinch bugs and sod webworms.
Purchase fertilizer and, if desired, now until mid October. Cut as needed, based on growth not schedule, to a height of about 2 ½ to 3 inches tall. Use a sharp blade. Keep newly seeded or sodded lawns watered; supplement rain in weeks where less than an inch fell. Apply preemergent crabgrass control. Fill in holes and low spots in lawn. Apply corn gluten based weed control in the garden; reapply at four to six week intervals.

Chores: Start getting plants ready to bring in. Repot those that need it and pot up those you want to winter over indoors. Harvest crops regularly, at least every other day. Check hoses; replace washers and correct leaky connections. Dump standing water and remove anything that may collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Check seed inventory for late-season crops and fall planting. Water any recent plantings and containers  anytime we experience a week with less than an inch of rain. Fix damaged screens and garden hoses. Note damaged caulking around doors and windows. Provide deer, rabbit and groundhog protection for vulnerable plants. Reapply taste or scent deterrents. Clear gutters and direct rainwater runoff away from house foundations.

Tools, equipment, and supplies: Check spring equipment and supplies, repair or replace. Sharpen blades, get fresh gas, check and/or replace oil. Send mowers and tractors for tune-up or repair.

Safety: Clear lawns of debris before mowing and make sure pets, children and others are well away from the area being mown. Store garden chemicals indoors away from pets and children. Discard outdated ones at local chemical collection events. Photograph storm damage before clearing or repairing for insurance claims and file promptly. Anytime you are outside and the temperatures are about 50 F or warmer watch for tick bites. Use an insect repellent containing Deet on the skin. Apply a permethrin product to clothing. Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in the garden. Stay hydrated. Drink water or other noncaffeinated, nonalcoholic beverages. Even in cold weather, apply sunscreen, wear hats and limit exposure to sun. Wear closed-toe shoes and gloves; use eye protection; and use ear protection when using any loud power tools.

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