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Agriculture

  • WICHE: Corn not on the cob? Small ears may mean poor pollination

    Small stalks, small ears, poor kernel development…does this describe your corn crop this year?

    If it does, there may be several factors at work.  Drought at the wrong time can stunt your corn crop (we haven’t had that this year), as can cold damage (if you put your crop out early you could see a little stunting from a late spring cold snap), poor drainage and poor soil fertility, especially nitrogen.

  • Canadian tobacco bill stalls

    A Canadian newspaper is reporting that a measure to ban all flavorings in tobacco imported into that country has hit a snag.

    The Globe and Mail reported the law, Bill C-32, has stalled in that country's Senate following its approval by the lower chamber, the House of Commons. Senators now say they will not take up the bill until September at the earliest, the newspaper reported.

  • WICHE: Blueberry planting and maintenance

    No other berry crop has gained the popularity of the blueberry.  I am glad it has earned this distinction because blueberries are actually pretty easy to grow if you provide them with some timely attention.

    Once they are established, some late winter pruning and fertilization is all you need to do to keep them in production. Sure, you need to start out right if you want to have productive bushes for the next 20 years, but once your established all the chores are straight forward.

  • WICHE: If your plants bloom before June 1stee

    Yes June 1 is the cut off date that officially marks the difference between a spring bloomer and a summer bloomer.  Does it matter that we know?  Yes, if you want to prune properly.

    This spring was a great one for spring bloomers: lilacs, viburnums, azaleas and rhododendrons all were able to do their thing with out a touch of frost or freeze.  We deserve that from time to time, but in order to keep these shrubs in shape, we need to prune them from time to time as well.

  • WICHE: Homemade shade devices offset summer heat

    We protect some of our plants from cold, so why not protect them a bit from heat?

    Sure, we can’t change the ambient air temperature on a 90-degree day, but we can keep our vegetables shaded on the hottest days of the summer with reasonable results.

    The vegetable garden can start doing some funny things during a heat wave.  When temperatures start to raise into the upper 80s and 90s, many vegetables drop flowers before pollination and fruit set and stop blooming.

  • WICHE: Take soft wood cuttings to propagate plants

    The most common form of plant propagation is digging and dividing, which is best done in early spring before new growth or in the fall before plants go dormant.

    Digging and dividing is great for herbaceous plants, but those plants that are considered woody ornamentals do not divide as easily with a spade.

    In this case we can look to the technique of rooting out softwood cuttings from the mother plant. 

  • WICHE: Dogwoods best planted in spring

    The search for replacement trees is on. After drought, wind and ice, we are all looking for something different and reliable to fill the void left behind by extreme weather.

    We plant trees all year round with no ill effects, but some trees do prefer being planted in spring.

    Usually soft-rooted species respond well to spring planting. It’s just easier to establish roots during the warm, rainy season, I suppose.

  • WICHE: Here’s your course in Tomato 101

    My annual “Tomato 101” is for beginners and advanced gardeners alike.

    There are many assumptions about the tomato that sometimes get passed on by the most well-meaning aficionado.  I take my tomatoes seriously and have devised a nearly perfect plan over the years!

  • WICHE: So what should you fertilize in the spring?

    I have long been taught that fall fertilization is preferred over spring fertilization for many plants, but there are some exceptions.

    We had a tough 2008 growing season with late-summer drought and a windstorm that only added insult to injury.  Add ice and a generally windy winter, and some plants are in need of a little energy boost.

    Summer drought and early fall leaf drop (or the severe desiccation that many deciduous plants experience from the windstorm) means that stored energy may be low.

  • WICHE: Potatoes, asparagus, onions first in the vegetable garden

    It is time to start preparing for the vegetable growing season in earnest. Asparagus, potatoes, onions and leeks can be set out now.