Timely tips for your garden!
Your Community Gardening Newsletter
July 2021 Volume 9 Number 7
Upcoming Events
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Summit County Master Gardeners are hosting a Virtual Program Series.
Meet the Good Guys, Beneficial Insects, presented by Jeanne Poremski. Summit County Master. Join us as Jeanne teaches us how to identify and protect insects that will help keep garden pests at bay.
The class is FREE. All classes are being held at 6:30 PM. Click HERE to register.

Thursday, July 8, 2021
Seasonal Cooking Workshop with Let's Grow Akron. Local chefs will be preparing a budget friendly, seasonal dish with fresh produce available at the Summit Lake Neighborhood Farmers' market and /or Let's Grow Akron Community Farm Market. Class starts at 5:00 PM. Swiss Chard Three Ways with Chef Jennifer Tidwell. First 20 participants to register can pick up a bag of fresh ingredients from the Kenmore Branch Library. Click HERE to sign up.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Backyard Ponds & Aquatic Plants: Landscaping with ponds and fountains will transform your yard Into a garden oasis.  Learn about planning, building, maintenance and  plant choices for adding a garden water feature. Presented by Rick Reeves – Summit County Master Gardener
We are not able to meet in person at this time so the Summit County Master Gardeners and the Summit Metro Parks are bringing Meet Me in the Garden to you virtually. All presentations are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM via Zoom. Click HERE to sign up.

Past Online Programs 
The State Master Gardener Coordinator for Ohio presented a series of webinars last spring and summer on a variety of topics. If you are interested in seeing what they were and watching some, or all, of them, click HERE.
The United States Botanic Garden is sharing virtual tours, online programs (including weekly online yoga and cooking demos), plant spotlight stories, at-home activities for kids and families including coloring pages and lesson plans, videos, and more. As the Garden celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, it's also sharing photos and stories from its deeply-rooted history. Check out all they have going on HERE.
Were you looking for something to do?
  • Fertilize corn twice this month, first week and third week, if possible
  • Blanch celery and cauliflower 
  • Continue to water and feed
  • During the second week, seed carrots, parsnips, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and lettuce for fall harvest
  • Harvest corn, cucumbers, beans, potatoes and summer squash
  • Cover potato tubers, carrot shoulders and onion bulbs to prevent green color
  • Continue monitoring for insect and disease problems and take needed measures to control damage
  • Thin vegetable plants, as needed
  • Continue tying plants to stakes as they grow
  • Sit back, relax and enjoy the bounty of the garden! 
The Master Gardener Hotline is OPEN for the season!
You can call our Horticulture Hotline to ask a garden-related question and get advice from our experts.
Just call 234-226-6633 
Hotline Hours: Tuesday: 9:00 am - noon, March through October
You can also get Master Gardener advice online anytime by submitting questions at  Ask a Master Gardener
According to the University of Georgia Extension Service:
How much water your garden needs will vary depending on soil type, stage of growth of the plants, amount of rainfall and temperature, but most vegetable gardens require about 1 to 1½ inches of moisture per week during the growing season. Water often enough to keep the moisture level fairly uniform. On medium and heavy soils, an application of about 1 inch per week should be adequate in the absence of sufficient rain. On light sandy soils, two or three ½-inch applications per week may be needed.

If the ground is sufficiently level, run water in the furrows until the soil is completely soaked. If the soil is very sandy or the surface is too irregular, use sprinklers or a porous irrigating hose. Keep in mind, however, that any watering practice that wets the foliage increases disease damage, especially if the foliage remains wet for extended periods. If you use sprinklers, water the garden in the early morning or at night so the foliage does not stay wet during the day. Over-watering not only wastes water but also leaches fertilizer below the root zone, making additional fertilizer necessary. 
Pollinator resources
Last week was Pollinator Week, and Denise Ellsworth at the Ohio State Bee Lab has some great resources. Just click on the link to the Lab to see them. Also there is a new PDF guide featuring common bees found in Ohio: The Bees of Ohio: A Field Guide. The guide includes bee descriptions, identification tips and color photographs. More than 85% of flowering plants (240,000) species) require insects to move pollen, and bees do most of the heavy lifting. So take some time to learn more about the roughly 500 kinds of native bees in Ohio.

In addition the Pollinator Partnership has created a Pollinator Friendly Cookbook! This resource is FREE to download, and encourages folks to explore new recipes featuring ingredients that rely on pollination services.
Help the Environment--in your own backyard
Want to help the environment? You can start right at home. AkronLife.com recently shared some tips from Summit Soil and Water Conservation District Education Specialist Sandy Barbic on how to make your land more sustainable and do your part in helping Mother Earth. Check out the article HERE.
Fresh Herbs
Cook's Illustrated Magazine notes that one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to boost the flavor of food is to add fresh herbs. even more so when you grow your own. Herbs are often classified as tender and delicate or hearty and woody. This classification applies not only to the structure of the plants and leaves, but also to the flavor. Tender herbs like basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and tarragon tend to have a brighter flavor and are most flavorful when fresh. Fresh delicate herbs should be added a minute or two before the end of cooking and/or sprinkled on before food is served. Hearty herbs like bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme tend to have a more savory flavor and their flavor compounds tend to be more heat stable, and can be added during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Hearty herbs are usually better for drying. Dried herbs can be added during cooking. Whole dried herbs release the flavor slower than the ground herbs. As a general rule, you can swap one tender herb for another tender herb, or one hearty herb for another hearty herb, but swapping tender herbs for hearty herbs, or the other way around, tends not to work as well. For some tips on using herbs and herb substitutions check out Add a Little Spice (& Herbs) to Your Life! , Seasoning with Herbs and Spices, and Recipe Substitutions.
Zucchini Blossoms
Cook's Illustrated also has some tips on using zucchini blossoms, which they say has a faintly sweet flavor, like the sweetness of corn but with a hint of "squash essence." To get the most actual squash you want to harvest the male blossoms, the ones on a long thin stem. The female blossoms are attached to the immature squash. Be sure to leave some of the male blossoms for pollination. Cook's recommends trimming the stem to about one inch and removing the spiny leaves (sepals) at the base of the blossom. Gently open the blossom and remove the stamen and any insects (male squash bees like to nap in the blossoms) and dirt. Rinse quickly under cold water and dry on paper towels. If you are not going to use them immediately you can wrap them in damp paper towels and keep them in a partly opened plastic bag in the fridge for up to three days. There are lots of fancy recipes for frying or stuffing the blossoms, but Cook's offers some simple ideas: scatter whole blossoms on a pizza before baking it; stir chopped blossoms into rice or risotto right before serving; add chopped blossoms to omelets or frittatas; or add torn blossoms to soups and salads. Squash blossoms are also great sauteed in a little butter. Enjoy!
Harvesting Garlic
It has been a long haul, but the garlic you planted last fall should be about ready to harvest. They should be ready in July or August. You can tell for sure when the leaves start to yellow. When the lower three or four leaves begin to yellow, the garlic is ready for harvest. That is the time to DIG up the bulbs. Do not try to pull them, the stalks can be damaged or break off and leave the bulb behind. The leaves are actually connected to the garlic bulb wrappers below. Waiting until leaves turn brown will result in rotted or missing wrappers. Place them in a shady location and allow the garlic to dry a few days until the skins start to become papery. Move them indoors to a cool, dry spot for curing if the weather is rainy. Spread them out to ensure good air circulation. Continue to dry or cure them until tops are completely dry and bulb skin is papery. You can braid "softneck" varieties. Or you can cut off the tops and the roots, leaving an inch of both, and store the bulbs in mesh bags in a dry area. Garlic stores well under a wide range of temperatures, but sprouts are produced most quickly at temperatures at or above 40 degrees F.   The mature bulbs are best stored at 32 degrees F. The humidity in storage should be near 65 to 70 percent at all times to discourage mold development and root formation. Cloves should keep for six to seven months. "Softneck" varieties have strong flavor and good storage qualities, "hardneck" varieties have milder flavor and winter hardiness.

For more information see the NEW OSUE FactsheetMichigan State Tip Sheet, or the Cornell Growing Guide
Easy way to strip herb leaves from the stems
Many herbs have stems that you do not want to include in your cooking. You can pick the leaves off one at a time or you can strip them with your fingers. You can also buy a variety of gizmos that promise to do the job. OR you can use something you already have. If you have a cooking or serving spoon with holes in it thread the stem through the hole and pull it through. The leaves will stay in the bowl of the spoon. This works especially well for parsley and cilantro.
Are your plants screaming?
Your tomato plants may actually be screaming if they need water. You just can't hear them. (If a tomato screams in the garden, and no one hears it...?) According to Smithsonian Magazine, scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel placed microphones capable of detecting ultrasonic frequencies four inches from tomato and tobacco plants, then either stopped watering them or snipped their stems. The article notes that "the researchers found that even happy, healthy plants made the occasional noise. But when cut, tobacco plants emitted an average of 15 sounds within an hour of being cut, while tomato plants produced 25 sounds. Stress from drought—brought on by up to ten days without water—elicited about 11 squeals per hour from the tobacco plants, and about 35 from the tomato plants." Something to think about before you prune your tomatoes or go off for a week without arranging to have a friend water your garden.
The article observes that this is just one more piece of evidence on the complexity of plants. "In recent years, it’s become abundantly clear that plants are far more sensitive than researchers once gave them credit for. They respond when touched by insectsturn toward sources of light, and some even sniff out other plants." So the least you can do is talk to your plants when you are out in the garden!
Garden hod from a dollar store
A garden hod is traditionally a "basket" with a wire mesh bottom that allows you to transport and then wash your vegetables outdoors with a hose. (A builders hod is a v-shaped trough on a pole for carrying bricks and mortar on your shoulder.) A garden hod can be handy, but you can get a wire or plastic basket or milk crate from a dollar store and do the same thing. Medium-sized baskets for laundry or cleaning supplies or plastic milk crates work great. If they don't have holes in the bottom for better drainage, you can drill some. Just think about what you want to harvest, transport and wash, and choose the size of the holes and the basket accordingly. For cherry tomatoes you don't want a huge basket with holes that the tomatoes can fall through. For zucchini you don't want a basket they won't it into. 
So pick some veggies, put them in the basket, use the hose on them to rinse them off, and leave the mess outside. Just remember that you should wash your produce again more carefully in the kitchen before eating it.
Plant and Pest Problems?
Not all of a gardener's tools are in his or her tool belt. Bookmarked internet links, just a click away, provide you with current information and help you wade through the often difficult task of plant or pest ID. Remember that whether we are working with a plant or a pest one of our first questions is "What is it?" And if you have a tablet or smart phone you can take them right into the garden with you!
The University of Wisconsin Weed ID Tool  helps you identify those pesky garden invaders. After answering 20 descriptive questions it will search its database and come up with a selection of named weed pictures. Once you have selected the picture that resembles your sample you will have a weed name for further research.
For tomato problems try the Texas A&M Tomato Problem Solver.
And Cornell University has a Vegetable MD Online with lists of diseases by crops as well as Diagnostic Keys for tomatoes and cucurbits (squash, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds).

You can also determine whether an insect you found is a good guy or a bad guy from the Amateur Entomologist Society, or the  Vegetable Insect ID sheet from Purdue, or the Beneficial Insect Guide from the University of Maine.
Be on the lookout for Colorado Potato Beetles
The adult Colorado potato beetle is 10 mm (3/8 inch) long, with its rounded outer wings forming a hard "shell" marked with black and yellowish-white stripes. The head is tannish-orange with black markings and the beetle has six brownish-orange legs. The larva has a soft, reddish-pink body with two rows of black spots along each side, six black legs, a black head, and is 3 to 13 mm (1/8 to 1/2 inch) long.

The primary damage of Colorado potato beetle is leaf feeding on potato, eggplant, and tomato, and occasionally on pepper, tobacco, and other plants in the nightshade family. Young fruits can also be eaten if the host is eggplant or tomato. Feeding damage is done by both larvae and adults. The Colorado potato beetle lives in Ohio year-round. Adult beetles overwinter in soil or under litter in fields, gardens, or fencerows, and they begin to emerge from these locations in May. All of the beetles in an area may emerge over a short period of time, but if weather conditions are dry or cool, beetles can emerge over a prolonged period. After they emerge from the soil, beetles walk in search of suitable host plants where they feed and lay eggs on leaves.

Hand picking can effectively control the Colorado potato beetle in small plantings. Inspect plants once or twice per week, remove all larvae and adult beetles, drop them into a container of soapy water, then dispose. Dislodge beetles by lightly beating plants with a broom; hold a bucket or snow shovel under plants to catch the dislodged beetles. Eggs can be crushed by hand. A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove beetles from young plants.
Lightweight row covers can be placed over plants as a barrier to prevent adult beetles from colonizing the plants.
Be on the lookout for Blossom-end Rot
Blossom-end rot is characterized as a dry, sunken, black spot or area on the blossom end of the fruit. This problem is not caused by an infectious disease, but rather an insufficient supply of calcium in the fruit. This can be due to cold soil, pH imbalance, water stress, excessive nitrogen, and possibly limited availability of calcium in soil. Blossom-end rot is more common on early tomatoes.  By growing your tomatoes in good soil with proper fertilization the problem should not be due to pH imbalance, excessive nitrogen, or limited availability of calcium in soil. (As always, a soil test can help.) 

That leaves water stress. Technically, blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency, but usually the real reason is that there is not enough available water in the plant to transport that calcium into the fruit. The water acts as the transporter. Blossom-end rot can happen when the plant has not developed a big enough root system to take in enough water. 

Avoid drought stress and wide fluctuations in soil moisture by checking your plants daily. Keep your soil evenly moist to and water deeply to prevent blossom end rot. Mulch can help. This can also help prevent cracking which happens when fruit absorbs water too fast after heavy rains or heavy watering following dry conditions.  Blossom-end rot can also happen when the plant has not developed a big enough root system to take in enough water. 

North Dakota State Extension. noted recently on their Instagram feed that "Some gardeners swear [Epsom Salts] prevents blossom end rot. It’s time to debunk that myth. Epsom salt doesn’t stop blossom end rot—it leads to more of it. Blossom end rot is caused by a deficiency of calcium. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate—no calcium at all. Adding Epsom salt to the soil may create more rot since magnesium and calcium ions compete for uptake into the plant. The more magnesium in the soil, the less chance that calcium will be absorbed."
Quick tips
Be sure to look for signs of insect damage often. You may be able to nip a problem in the bud by picking off the culprits when they are small and before they do too much damage.  

Instead of pesticides, which can harm good bugs as well as pests, take a cup of soapy water into the garden with you and knock the bad guys into it.

For a low cost drip irrigation alternative poke a few small holes in the bottom of a gallon plastic milk jug and bury it between plants. Fill it with water and it will gradually water your plants.

Be sure to pick your crops regularly. Beans, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, chard and such all will keep producing longer.

Scratch a bar of soap before you go into the garden to work. Dirt under your fingernails washes out easily.

Have some onions that have started to go soft? Don't pitch them, plant them! You can harvest green onions.
A little bit about growing Collards
Collards, like kale, is considered a nonheading cabbage. Collards grows better in warm weather and can tolerate more cold weather in the late fall than any other member of the cabbage family. Although collards is a popular substitute for cabbage in the Deep South, it can also be grown in northern areas because it is frost tolerant.

For a fall crop direct seed about three months before expected fall frost (our first frost is usually around the middle of October). Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep, 1 inch apart in rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Thin to 12- to 18-inch spacings. You can eat or transplant thinnings.  

Collards don't seem to be as troubled by pests as most other cole crops, but you can use floating row covers to help protect them from early insect infestations.

Like cabbage, collards are heavy feeders and like consistent moisture. They need ample nitrogen for good green color and tender growth. For average soils, use 1- 2 lb of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet before planting. You can side-dress with 3 oz of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet 3 to 5 weeks after the seed comes up or after transplanting. 

Collards tolerate frost, and many think that the flavor is improved when plants are "kissed" by frost. In mild winters they can overwinter, providing tender leaves in early spring, but they tend to flower by late spring since they are a biennial. 

Lower leaves can be harvested for longer harvest period.  Collards are a good source of Vitamin A and calcium. The leaves can be tough, and the stems and central vein should be removed before cooking, which could take 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the leaves. The nutrient rich cooking liquid can be saved and used for soup stocks.  

For more information see the Michigan State Tip Sheet, or the Cornell Growing Guide
Some helpful links:

Submit questions online to be answered by Master Gardener Volunteers at  Ask a Master Gardener
OhioLine Yard and Garden provides fact sheets and information on a variety of gardening topics. 
The Michigan State Tip Sheets,and the Cornell Growing Guides also offer lots of gardening information that is suitable for Ohio gardens.

Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine provides timely information about Ohio growing conditions, pest, disease, and cultural problems. BYGL is updated weekly between April and October.