Gar­den­ing in hot weather»

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - In the land­scape By Betty Cahill, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post Betty Cahill speaks and writes about gar­den­ing in Colorado. Visit her at http://gar­den­punch­list.blogspot.com/ for more gar­den­ing tips.

• Sum­mer heat has set­tled in; fin­ish the chores in the cool of the morn­ing or late evening. Plants don’t like be­ing fussed with mid­day when the bees are vis­it­ing flow­ers or toma­toes are putting on fruit. The ex­cep­tion is weeds — dig them any­where in the land­scape at any time.

• Got brown lawn patches? Heat, lack of wa­ter­ing or in­ef­fi­cient wa­ter­ing may be the cause. First, don’t as­sume the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem is func­tion­ing prop­erly at 2 a.m. if it hasn’t been checked re­cently. Watch each zone and ad­just, re­pair and re­place heads if needed to cor­rect in­ad­e­quate wa­ter cov­er­age.

Veg­eta­bles and herbs

• Har­vest a few new pota­toes (an im­ma­ture tu­ber with soft skin that doesn’t need peel­ing). Care­fully scratch away the soil at the base of the plant, feel and pull it out gen­tly. Push back soil into place for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment.

• Har­vest beets about 60 days af­ter plant­ing. Smaller beets, 2 to 3 inches across, are de­li­cious roasted in the oven or in foil on the grill. Use the green leafy tops like chard or mus­tard greens. Beets will store in the re­frig­er­a­tor up to two weeks.

• When leaves are six inches or larger, cut the en­tire Swiss chard plant at the soil line, or re­move outer leaves over time, care­ful not to dam­age the small bud at the cen­ter of the plant. The plant will con­tinue to pro­duce new leaves all sum­mer. Store in sealed plas­tic bags in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

• Dig car­rots early, or wait un­til fully de­vel­oped, about 70 to 80 days af­ter plant­ing. Be sure to con­tinue mound­ing soil on car­rot shoul­ders to pre­vent green­ing.

• Try sow­ing warm-sea­son vin­ing Mal­abar spinach — not a true spinach, but a spe­cialty green that tastes like mild Swiss chard.

• Con­tinue di­rect seed­ing basil, Swiss chard, green beans, sum­mer squash and car­rots. Use float­ing row cov­ers (sold at gar­den cen­ters) to keep the seed bed moist. Wa­ter twice a day or more so seeds won’t dry out.

• Keep a close eye on vegetable and fruit plants. Tem­per­a­tures in the 90s cou­pled with our low hu­mid­ity can af­fect blos­som pro­duc­tion and fruit set. Cool crops often taste bit­ter and send up flower stalks (bolt) in the heat of sum­mer. Pull and toss dis­ease-free crops in the com­post pile.

• Cool sea­son crops can be seeded again later in the sum­mer when tem­per­a­tures cool down.

• Re­new mulch as needed. Mulching keeps the soil cool and re­duces the splash­ing of wa­ter that may carry early blight fun­gal spores onto tomato leaves.

• Wa­ter at the base of plants; avoid over­head wa­ter­ing un­less spi­der mites are a prob­lem. A good spray of wa­ter re­duces their num­bers on all land­scape plants, plus veg­eta­bles. Spray early in the day so fo­liage dries.

Ja­panese bee­tles

• Adult Ja­panese bee­tles have emerged in sev­eral neigh­bor­hoods along the Front Range. Their oneyear life cy­cle can be man­aged if timely at­ten­tion is given to treat­ing both adults and their off­spring (the eggs and lar­vae).

• Ja­panese bee­tle adults are good fliers that can fly up to five miles, so con­trols may not be en­tirely help­ful if other lawns (where they lay their eggs) are not treated.

• Use dif­fer­ent con­trol op­tions for Ja­panese bee­tle lar­vae and adults; there is no sin­gle-best method for per­ma­nent elim­i­na­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, they are prob­a­bly here to stay and in time will spread out to other neigh­bor­hoods.

• They feed and mate heav­ily dur­ing the heat of the day, start­ing at the tops of plants. They fa­vor roses, Vir­ginia creeper, grape vines, lin­dens, basil, beans and scores of other land­scape and agri­cul­tural plants.

• Keep adult bee­tle num­bers down by flick­ing them into soapy wa­ter early in the morn­ing or late day when they are slug­gish.

• Ja­panese bee­tle traps sold in gar­den cen­ters and on­line should only be used for mon­i­tor­ing. They do not of­fer ef­fec­tive con­trol — they bring more bee­tles to the trap and ad­ja­cent plants.

• Cul­tural prac­tices may help re­duce num­bers: dry lawns are less de­sir­able for fe­males to lay eggs (they pre­fer moist lawns); tall grass is more dif­fi­cult for fe­males to lay eggs; row cov­ers or net­ting over de­sir­able plants should keep them out (care­ful when cov­er­ing plants that need to be pol­li­nated).

• Over the counter pes­ti­cides may re­pel or di­rectly kill Ja­panese bee­tles. As with any spray, read all la­bels for their ef­fec­tive­ness and im­pact on ben­e­fi­cial in­sects and pol­li­na­tors.

• It is il­le­gal to spray in­sec­ti­cides on plants in flower that honey bees are vis­it­ing.

• Get a jump on next year’s gen­er­a­tion of bee­tles by treat­ing lawn ar­eas where they lay their eggs now through early fall. Treat turf with in­sec­ti­cides or bi­o­log­i­cal prod­ucts as out­lined on the link.

• For the best man­age­ment prac­tices from the Colorado De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, visit colorado.gov.

Betty Cahill, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Cut the en­tire Swiss chard plant at the soil line when the leaves are 6 inches or longer.

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