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Gardening in Washington State

Archive for July 2015

My squash plants are blooming, but no fruit has set. Why not?

For most squashes, the male and the female flowers (distinguished by the round chamber at the base of the flower) are on the same plant. These flowers are dependent on honey bees and other bees to transfer the male pollen to the female flower. Take precautions to minimize insecticide use during flower bloom and encourage bee access and visitation. Inadequately-pollinated female squash flowers may grow, but abort before full fruit development.

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Female and male flowers (Rasbak, Wikimedia Commons)

For more information on how to grow squash in your home garden, see WSU Extension Factsheet FS087E “Growing Squash in Home Gardens.”

Submitted by: Sheila Gray, July 20, 2015

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Is wood chip mulch a fire hazard?

Coarse textured organic mulches, like wood chips, are the least flammable of the organic mulches. Fine textured mulches are more likely to combust, and rubber mulch is the most hazardous of all tested landscape mulches. If organic mulches are kept moist, they are less likely to catch fire. If you use flamers for weed control in areas near wood chips, be sure to soak the mulched area first.

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Photo credit: Linda Chalker-Scott

For more information on wood chip mulches, see “Using Arborist Wood Chips As a Landscape Mulch” WSU Extension Fact Sheet FS160E Publications/FS160E

Submitted by: Linda Chalker-Scott, July 20, 2015

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When is my garlic ready to harvest?

After the leaves on the lower third of the plant have turned yellow, garlic is ready to harvest. This usually occurs during late June and mid-July depending on the growing climate and the garlic variety planted. Be careful not to damage the bulb during harvest—any wounds or bruises make the bulb more susceptible to disease and deterioration during storage. Use a trowel or spade to gently loosen the soil under the bulb. Remove any soil from the bulb and its roots gently. Place the garlic with the tops intact in a dry, cool, well- ventilated place to cure. Store in mesh bags, braided, or in hanging bunches. After several weeks, the garlic will be cured. To prepare the garlic for use, cut the tops to roughly 1 inch and trim the roots. After curing, the garlic will keep for several months.

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Photo credit: Linda Chalker-Scott

For more information on how to grow garlic in your home garden, see WSU Extension Factsheet FS162E, “Growing Garlic in Home Gardens

Submitted by: Sheila Gray, July 13, 2015

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Avoiding Strangely Shaped Knobby Potatoes

While growing potatoes is relatively easy, maintaining an even soil moisture is crucial to producing a good crop of well-shaped potatoes. After the plants emerge, potatoes need about 2 inches of water per week, depending on the weather and the type of soil. Regular irrigation will be needed if natural precipitation is not adequate. Wide fluctuations in soil moisture will cause uneven tuber development leading to potatoes with knobby growth, pointed ends, or a dumbbell shape, depending on when the water-stress occurs.

Figure2knobbypotatoeswaterstress

This material is excerpted from the WSU publication Growing Potatoes in Home Gardens FS118E

Submitted by: Marianne Ophardt, July 6, 2015

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