Sunny Sunday

Hot and humid–just the way it’s supposed to be. This is Kansas in July. Hard to believe we have only two-and-a-half months left of summer.

Tomatoes are starting to ripen on the vine. Eggplants are fruiting. I have a baby pepper and a baby cucumber. And–so exciting–I’ve fenced a baby watermelon to keep the bunnies and deer and coyotes away.

Hope your Sunday is filled with peace, fruit and vegetables.

Apple Rust

This year, for the first time, we decided to spray our apple trees for fungus and insects. Hope triumphing over experience, we wanted to bite into a worm-free apple of our own.

So, really ironic, this is the first year we’ve had apple leaf rust.

Rust has affected all varieties of apples except the honey crisps–which are supposed to be difficult to grow. Go figure.

Thinking about my apple orchard led me to remember my mom’s orchard in New Jersey. There, a sapling in the ground grows into a tree, no muss, no fuss. At least it used to be that way. Here in Kansas, everything, and especially fruit trees, need a lot of tender loving care.

Even then, it’s a crap shoot.

Looking for information on leaf rust led me to the University of Illinois Extension. There I learned that the problem probably had to do with my red cedars, scientific name Juniperus virginiana, The cedars have galls, especially during rainy weather. The galls swell up and produce telial horns (nasty description including the word gelatinous). These release spores that attack susceptible trees. Rainy weather seems to be the key, and we’ve had twice as much rain as average.

This little lovely is a red cedar. It volunteered several years ago, and grows within feet of my apple trees, forming part of the apple allee. My first thought, after reading the University of Illinois article was to cut this tree down. But no, it won’t make a difference. Looks like those spores can travel up to fourteen miles. Our area is loaded with Juniperus virginiana.

Spraying for fungus, evidently, offers only partial success. On a year like the one we’re having, leaf rust is the guarantee.

Maybe next year will be better.

Hot and Humid Sunday

Walking out this morning to deadhead the daylilies was like walking into a sauna. Hot, wet, and airless. There’s not a lick of wind and I don’t like it. But the flowers love it.

Here’s what my hibiscus did this morning–three amazing blooms.

The blackberries are coming along–from green to this posy pink, soon to be black. I cut them back severely last fall, so I wonder if the berries will taste funny. That’s what happened to my Top Hat blueberries, which are as sour as lemons this year. Might be a fertilizer issue.

The Mauna Loa daylilies are out in force for just another week or two. Gorgeous while they last.

And now, I’m getting out of the heat. I have some writing to do.

Heat Wave Sunday

We’re having a heat wave with a heat index at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. My plants are loving this weather–all except the cool weather crops that have given up the ghost.

Speaking of ghosts, my new Ms. Wilmot’s Ghost is kaput. In its place, I found this variegated liriope, which should tolerate both wet and drought. We’ll see how it does.

And here, believe it or not, is the start of my water lily. I did not at all believe I’d get a flower. I’m waiting for frogs to show up and sit on the leaves.

The ruby slipper hydrangeas are starting to turn pink. Last year, they went from white to brown, making this the very first year we might see red flowers.

And now for the first sign of fall. A red zinnia, the first of what looks like many from the gazillion seed packets I spread over all the beds.

And wow, I got through all that without a single daylily. But here is one. They are loving the heat and the bees.

Purslane

About ten years ago, I bought a hanging planter that included purslane. My first mistake.

Back then, my powers of identification were poor at best. When I started seeing this not-horrible plant in my garden beds, I let it go. My second mistake.

Now, I’m overrun by purslane. I’ll walk away after clearing a bed, come back half an hour later, and tiny purslane weeds have taken over. A fast grower, purslane can throw seeds a fair distance from the mother plant. It also re-roots from stems and leaves. Purslane also loves most herbicides.

As you’ve guessed by not, this plant–like most invasive plants–is a super-survivor. I suppose that’s a good thing if you want to eat purslane. It is edible, and Europeans use it in salads–young stems, leaves, and flower buds are especially delicious if you like salty-sour. I’ve tried it, and find the mucilaginous leaves–think succulent–off-putting.

What it absolutely needs is sunlight to germinate, so the key is to weed by hand as fast as possible, and cover bare areas with mulch, black plastic, newspaper. Of course, the minute I uncover an area, here comes the purslane.

My third and final mistake has been to throw the pulled plants into my burn pile without burning immediately. Most of the gardening sites recommend bagging purslane weeds to prevent spreading.

That’s what I’m doing. Starting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here are some pics of my neighbor’s un-mowed field. Pretty, right? I wonder if he’s got purslane growing in there.

Stormy Sunday

The storm started last night and continued this morning. Wind and three inches of rain–so far. Thunder and lightning. A good morning to drink coffee and watch everything turn intense green.

Luckily, I walked out to see the damage and we had some.

One of the apple trees fell over in last night’s wind and the stake holding it broke off. Fixed with a new stake.

My tub pond overflowed, which didn’t seem to hurt the irises much. The waterlily is sporting new leaves, too.

But poor Ms. Wilmot’s ghost is drowning. Maybe with some dry weather and sun, she’ll survive. Fingers crossed.

The rain has to stop sometime. Right?