Archive for Sunday, May 31, 1998


May 31, 1998


— When Kansas winds combine with a sudden blast of spring temperatures in the 90s, even well-watered flowers and garden vegetables will wilt.

In fact, this reaction can be extreme for new greenhouse transplants and for seedlings that sprouted outdoors during a cool, cloudy spring.

If they remain well-watered, however, the plants should recover within days, said Chuck Marr, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist.

``It's a matter of becoming acclimatized. Plant structure and root system both will change, to become more tolerant of intense heat and stress,'' Marr said.

Judgment determines

end of asparagus run

Manhattan -- The end of the year's asparagus harvest is somewhat of a judgment call.

The general rule is: When most spears have declined to the diameter of a pencil, stop harvesting.

``Unfortunately, asparagus spears don't decline in size uniformly,'' said Chuck Marr, horticulturist with K-State Research and Extension. ``So, all you can do is remember that a too-short harvest is better than one that's too long.''

Marr strongly suggests gardeners avoid ``nickel and dime'' cuttings -- late-season harvests of the few larger spears that may be scattered through an asparagus bed. Instead, gardeners should use the entire planting as their guide and stop harvesting from all plants when most plants seem to have peaked.

``Asparagus produces spears from food reserves in an underground `crown' of storage roots. Spear diameter gets smaller as those reserves get depleted,'' he explained. ``Once you stop harvesting, the spears will sprout into ferny looking summer growth. That growth will generate the food reserves that are available for next year's crop.''

Bean leaf beetles

attacking early

Manhattan -- Leaf beetles are attacking bean plants unusually early this year.

Normally, they eat holes in bean leaves. This year, however, they are eating newly emerged bean plants.

``They may disappear soon. They often are not a problem throughout the spring growing season,'' said Chuck Marr, horticulturist, K-State Research and Extension. ``They're rarely a problem for fall-planted beans, either.''

Identifying the pest can be difficult, Marr added. Bean leaf beetles are a dull to bright yellow. They have black spots and are good at hiding.

``Controlling them isn't hard, though,'' he said. ``Any of the general insect controls will work, including rotenone, sevin, malathion and diazinon.''

Transplants need

fertilizer boost

Manhattan -- Moving a plant to a new environment always shocks its system. But the shock for transplants on sale now in garden stores across Kansas may be severe.

``Many nurseries are using a lightweight potting mix. In addition, transplants can sit on the shelf for weeks, waiting to be sold. The end result of this combination is that soil fertility may be fairly well depleted by the time you get a transplant home,'' said Chuck Marr, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist.

He recommends gardeners apply a starter fertilizer solution (often sold as a root stimulator) when they put transplants in the ground.

``Follow label directions. Although a little fertilizer is good, a lot is not better!'' Marr warned.

-- From J-W Wire Reports

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