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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of July 25, 2016 By Ron Kujawski

GardenA few years back, I came across a study by biologists at Duke University that illustrated one possible outcome of climate change.  By now, most people know that climatologists who study global warming attribute the Earth’swarming to increases in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The biologists at Duke found a correlation between increased growth of poison ivy and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Ugh!  If that isn’t enough to make one itch, they also found that poison ivy growing in a high carbon dioxide atmosphere produces a more potent form of urushiol, the compound responsible for causing the allergic reaction to poison ivy. And that leads me to this week’s hot stock market tip: invest in Calamine lotion. (And you thought this was just a gardening column.)

Speaking of hot tips, here are this weekend’s hot gardening tips:

  • Continue to remove the suckers on a weekly schedule from indeterminate varieties of tomatoes, that is, tall growing varieties which produce fruit all season long. Suckers are the new shoots that arise at the base of tomato plants and in the crotches between stems and leaves. Suckering not only hastens development of the fruit but also opens up the plant to allow good air movement through the remaining shoots which in turn reduces the risk of disease.
  • Sidedress long-season vegetable crops, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, root crops, cabbages, etc. by applying a granular general purpose fertilizer around each plant or along rows of plants. Place the fertilizer about 6 inches away from the plants, lightly rake it into the soil and then apply water. For leafy greens, use a water soluble fertilizer such as fish emulsion.
  • Dry culinary herbs in shade as opposed to drying in the sun.  Not only do herbs retain their color better but essential oils that give herbs their particular flavor are better preserved.
  • Withhold water from onions and shallots.  The plants are rapidly reaching maturity as witnessed by the flopping of the plants and browning of the leaves.  Too much water now will delay proper curing of the bulbs and could induce some rot or at least decrease their winter keeping quality.
  • Take photos of gardens when traveling on vacation this summer.  The photos can be studied at a later time for ideas to incorporate into your gardens.  It’s okay to “borrow” such ideas.  As a friend of mine once said, “Being original is admitting defeat.”

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