In this hot month we also realize that time is passing. Days are shorter and shadows lengthen sooner. Once sunny areas are now shaded earlier in the day. This realization, coupled with the bounty of …
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In this hot month we also realize that time is passing. Days are shorter and shadows lengthen sooner. Once sunny areas are now shaded earlier in the day.
This realization, coupled with the bounty of harvests – in spite of some antagonistic weather – has always resulted in harvest festivals. Every weekend everywhere in the country you can find a celebration of corn, chili peppers, huckleberries, peaches, state fairs and ice cream socials. (The ice cream is to moderate August heat and you just might be fortunate enough to find some homemade ice cream.)
Your own harvest may overwhelm you, but never ever leave produce to rot in the garden. There are many shelters and food banks that would welcome it (visit produceforpantries.com or call 855-855-4626 for locations). Although community gardens abound here, there are still many people who lack access to fresh food. Elderly neighbors, no longer able to garden, will also welcome a taste of fresh produce. (I shared some sugar snap peas with someone who had never tasted them. Her delight at tasting the peas’ crisp sweetness made me wish I had planted a row of peas just for her.)
Q. A friend suggested growing primroses in a hot sunny spot in my garden. I’m confused because I buy primroses in early spring to bloom in the cool weather with my tulips and daffodils. When the weather turns hot, the primroses disappear.
A. You’re both sort of correct. The confusion occurs through our use of common names. Those early tulip/daffodil companions are Primulas, and the later sun and heat lovers are Oenotheras.
One summer primrose commonly called Mexican Primrose (Oenothera Speciosa) is a hardy plant with pale pink fragile-looking blossoms. It grows upright 12-18 inches tall, but spreads through both seed and underground runners. It blooms all summer and tolerates poor soil (growing in cracks in my sidewalk occasionally).
Oenothera Macrocarpa (Ozark Prim-rose) has yellow flowers that bloom well into the fall. There are other summer primroses that you can find at your local nursery. All are undemanding and drought tolerant. When they roam too much, simply cut back the runners.
Q. Our flower beds are infested with bindweed this summer even though we have always kept weeds under control by pulling. What’s going on?
A. Bindweed is the bully and thug of the plant world. It is tough, resilient, opportunistic and produces a gazillion seeds per plant.
If it isn’t totally eliminated before it blossoms, it produces enough seeds to cover the earth. (For the unwary, bindweed is that morning glory-like vine that produces tiny white or pink flowers.) It has roots that extend to China and back, and tangles itself around other plants, lawns, shrubs, fences and even minute sidewalk cracks.
It thrives in drought years when other plants struggle to survive, and its seeds remain viable during warm winters, thus giving it a head start, not to mention that centuries of evolution have enabled it to be one tough hombre.
Careless neighbors who don’t maintain property contribute to this bindweed epidemic. Poisons and chemicals don’t kill it, but constantly cutting the plant to the ground (not pulling it) will weaken the roots. CSU currently is experimenting with a natural enemy, but things are still in the experimental stage. Keep cutting.
Q. Some insect is totally shredding the leaves of my Virginia Creeper. It’s bright green and copper colored, but the colors look metallic. It looks like a beetle, but it flies and seems to feed in clusters. What is it, and how do I eliminate it?
A. I’m sorry to say, but you’ve been invaded by the Japanese beetle, a relative newcomer to Colorado. It also has set up business in my grape arbor. I’ve sprayed the beetles with straight vinegar and also poured liberal doses of paprika, but the beetles are impervious to treatment. I also captured several in a jar and was amazed that the beetles lived three days without any nourishment.
The good folks at CSU Extension, 888 E. Iliff Ave. said the beetles love the old fashioned roses, green beans, raspberries and numerous trees. CSU Extension Fact Sheet #5.601 will provide far more comprehensive information than I can offer in this column. Get the informative sheet. (Visit ext.colostate.edu/pubs/pubsb.html to download this, and a multitude of other super-helpful fact sheets.)
Q. We inherited my mother’s house and flower-filled garden. Most things have done well, but the phlox are covered in mildew. Because of our small children and pets, we don’t want to use chemicals.
A. Mildew always hits susceptible plants when we have heat and humidity (think monsoon season). It is unsightly and will weaken the plant. To prevent it, increase air circulation around the plants, be certain they receive maximum sunlight and reduce all overhead watering. Discard all spent foliage this fall (don’t compost) and aerate the soil. Horticultural oils may help control the mildew.
I don’t know how attached you are to your particular phlox, but you might investigate the many gorgeous new ones that are more disease resistant.
Plant cool weather veggies ASAP for fresh ones in autumn.
August – the sun inside the afternoon Like the stone in fruit.
Federico Garcia Lorca
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