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Agriculture

  • WICHE: Sweet Potatoes ready for the garden

    Sweet potatoes should be happy in Kentuckiana this season…they love the heat.

    In fact, mail order and local sources are only now getting their slips in for sale. Sweet potatoes are tropical by nature but can be grown successfully in Kentuckiana as long as we wait until it is warm (nighttime temperatures in the 60s) and as long as we have at least 150 frost-free days.

  • WICHE: Lily species fill the garden

    The first lilies of the season are in bloom in the perennial bed. Short and orange, they are the beacon that summer has arrived for me. These Asiatic hybrids are among the most common lilies we see, with upward facing blooms atop a straight leaf-whorled stem.

    Though I am no lily expert, I do have a new fascination with them as I add more variety to the garden. Up until now the only variety that existed was between the shorter Asiatic and the towering Oriental hybrids.

  • WICHE: Roller coaster of wet, cool, dry and hot

    According to our weather forecasters, it looks like we are getting ready for another swing in our weather.

    The cool, wet weather pattern was great for my peas, greens and potatoes; but I am starting to think maybe I should have waited one more week before putting the tomatoes and peppers out.

    Our roller-coaster ride from hot and dry to cool and wet and back again is good news for some and bad for others.

  • Plowing new ground

    With the snow melt and the first few days of warm weather, thoughts naturally turn to the hope of spring and the warm days of summer and perhaps the fresh ripe tomatoes, sweet corn and succulent strawberries that come along with them.

    And even if you don’t have a farm or a garden to call your own, you now can have a stake in this year’s harvest.

  • WICHE: Cedar-apple rust cycle begins

    After the rains hit a few weeks ago, enough moisture settled in to trigger the development and “ripening” of some really freaky looking appendages.

    It is called cedar-apple rust, and many gardeners where curious about the large, orange gelatinous spore horns hanging from their cedars like Japanese lanterns. They strike awe and dread from me because they are fabulous looking creations of nature but they also forewarn a rust problem in the orchard for next year.

  • WICHE: Summer crops want warm nights, especially tomatoes

    I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they have planted their tomatoes already…some nearly a month ago! Too early, too early!

    When it comes to spring fever, the tomato is most abused. Gardeners just can’t wait to get out and dig, which is understandable, but when it comes to tomatoes, it is best to be patient.

  • WICHE: Gardening questions are answered

    Question: I have 30 eastern white pines that are a year old and 10 I have just

    planted. What type of fertilize should I use. Also I have some azaleas. What should I use on them? Gary & Angela Scharfenberger, Shelbyville

    Answer: I would not fertilize young pines just keep them well-watered throughout the summer if we do not get adequate precipitation. A good soaking once is week will get them established more quickly.     

  • WICHE: Shade devices slow bolting of spring vegetables

    We usually don’t even consider breaking out the old window screens until July, but I just got in from strategically placing screens over my spinach, greens and Brussels’ sprouts.

    It has undoubtedly been a hot spring: upper 80s in April with little deficit in rain fall calls for some early shade!

    We are certainly used to protecting some of our plants from cold. Why not protect them a bit from heat?

  • WICHE: Too much mulch detrimental to trees

    Driving into town the other day, I was depressed about how this mulch thing has really gotten out of hand. 

    Every tree looked like a telephone pole sticking out of a rounded mound or orange-looking mulch. All I could think was “poor trees.”

    I keep writing about it, but is doesn’t seem people getting the message that too much mulch is a bad thing.

  • WICHE: Take care in moving your plants outdoors

    Our current warm sunny weather has made everyone just delighted and the intoxication of it all may lead us to act impulsively.

    I am as eager as anyone to move some of my houseplants outdoors. My gardenia looks terrible in the dining room, and the jasmine downstairs seems to stare into space dreaming of better days.

    Those days are coming, but just be slow about the transition from indoors to out.