Too Much Sun? Is that Possible?

Pepper-Sun-ScaldEvery gardening resource tells you to site your garden in full sun. Flowers won’t bloom, tomatoes won’t ripen and disease will invade and take over. Good advice, except when there is too much of a good thing.

During the long, hot, dry days of summer, both leaves and fruits can actually get sunburned. You expect this on plants labeled for partial shade, like Hosta and Heuchera. But even tropical peppers and tomatoes can scorch.

What does sunburn look like on plants?Continue Reading

Plenty of Flowers, Where are the Fruits?

ZucchiniOne thing we can count on with zucchini and cucumbers is abundance. We just have to be patient.

Plants in the Cucurbita pepo species set separate male and female flowers and the darn things start the season by setting lots and lots of male flowers. Lots. With all these bachelor flowers hanging out together, you are never going to get any fruits.

Where the boys are

But nature knows what it’s doing. The male flowers help lure pollinating insects to the garden. When the female flowers finally put in an appearance, there’s a much better chance they will actually get pollinated and begin to form tiny zucchini or cucumbers.

But there’s one more caveat.Continue Reading

No One Writes Songs about Loopers

CabbageProbably no other vegetable attracts so many icky insects as the cabbage family. If the larvae aren’t feeding on the leaves, the adults are laying their eggs on them or worse. Yuck.

There’s not much you can do to avoid these pests, other than covering your plants with floating row covers. The row covers work well, but you need to plant all your cole crops together or you’ll be spending a lot of time cutting squares.

However there is one trick for repelling cabbage loopers that is much easier.Continue Reading

Instant Impact

Large-Swath2Were moving in on mid-summer and panic is setting in. I’m thinking this might not be the year I finally get through my whole to do list. Hmm.

I’ve been revamping my main flower border and changing my color palette. I’m finding I have too many onesies, a result of freebies and pass-alongs. This reminded me of a tip I read in Gay Search’s The Little Book of Quick Fixes. For a bigger impact, plant a lot of 1 plant. I know the recommendation is to plant in odd numbers of at least 3, but I’m talking more is more.

Which Creates its Own ProblemContinue Reading

Hot Enough for Mulch?

Mulch-PileThe more I garden, the less I am a fan of mulching. I’m not saying you shouldn’t amend your soil with organic matter, but it’s always seemed to me that if you need a lot of mulch, you don’t have enough plants.

I used to get several cubic yards of mulch delivered every spring and spend a week or so spreading it around the yard. It was high quality mulch that was still hot enough to create a steaming pile. For a few weeks the beds looked lovely. But it didn’t take very long for the mulch to break down and disappear into the soil. Now what? Mulch again? There has to be a better way.

What is It?

In the flower beds, I’ve found it much easier to simply plant more closely together. This either shades out weeds or makes them less noticeable – both good options. I still top dress with compost once or twice a year, but I don’t use mulch to make the beds look finished.

And in the Vegetable Garden?Continue Reading