The Garden Shed

A Community Newsletter published by the Piedmont Master Gardeners

September 2016-Vol.2 No.9

 

For comments, questions or suggested topics for future Garden Shed articles contact us at: garden-shed@piedmontmastergardeners.org.

If you have specific gardening questions or need help to solve a gardening problem, our Horticultural Help Desk is a free community resource and can be contacted at 434-872-4583 or by email: albemarlevcehelpdesk@gmail.com.


The Garden Shed- Who We Are

Who We Are

We are members of the Piedmont Master Gardeners, which simply means we have all been trained to share the scientific expertise of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service. More important, we are your friends and neighbors with a passion for gardening – and learning more about it. MORE

Table of Contents

Rosemary Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Gluten free never tasted this good!

The Ornamental Garden in September

September is ideal for dividing, planting or transplanting ornamentals.

The Vegetable Garden In September

September to do list.

Colchicum and Other Late Season Oddities

Be surprised and delighted with autumn-blooming bulbs!

The Vegetable Garden In September

The hot days of August, are finally behind us. September in the Piedmont is a month that transitions into fall with hot summer days but cooling nights. It’s also a month that confronts the gardener with mixed feelings. After a long season of planting, weeding, harvesting, and battling an ever-changing list of pests, I sometimes wish that the season would just come to an end! At other times, I want to extend the growing and harvesting season into winter. But, mixed feelings or not, there are always gardening tasks to do, and here is my list for September. Let’s begin with the short version of the September To-Do List: continue harvesting vegetables, continue removing spent spring and summer crops, plant fall crops and cover crops, and, of course, continue weeding.

Here in central Virginia, we can harvest fresh produce well into the fall and often into early winter. No matter how ragged the summer garden looks, a fall garden offers us not only a second growing season, but also a second chance to plant those early spring crops that failed in the summer heat. September in central Virginia is a continuation of fall planting season and a time to begin preparing the garden for winter by planting cover crops in vacated areas of the garden.

The following planting chart was created by using the Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 426-331, “Fall Vegetable Gardening.”

September    1-10   September 11-20   September 21-31
Beets Beets
Endive Endive
Kale Kale
Lettuce, bibb Lettuce, bibb Lettuce, bibb
Lettuce, leaf Lettuce, leaf Lettuce, leaf
Mustard Mustard Mustard
Radishes Radishes Radishes
Spinach Spinach Spinach
Turnips Turnips Turnips
Cover Crops:
Winter Rye Winter Rye Winter Rye

Plant garlic in our area during the month of October. Remember, many retailers quickly exhaust their inventories of the most popular varieties before October. If you haven’t purchased garlic for fall planting, time is running out. A few garden centers in our area sell garlic bulbs for fall planting, but the varieties are somewhat limited. However, an online search for “Garlic Bulbs for Sale” will bring up numerous sources. For additional information, check out our October 2015  article on growing great garlic.

September is an excellent time to sow cover crops in bare areas of your garden. For additional  infomation on cover crops, check out our article in the   September 2015 issue of The Garden Shed.

Give your tomato plants one last feeding. Compost tea or fish emulsion should give them the extra energy they need to make that final push at the end of the season. Pinching off small green tomatoes and any new flowers will channel the plant’s energy into ripening the remaining full-size fruit.

Plant some cool-season vegetables such as radishes, spinach, kale, mustard and collards.

Collect herbs from your herb garden for freezing and drying. If you don’t have access to a dehydrator, herbs can be dried quickly in a microwave oven. Simply place the herbs between two paper towels and heat for a minute. Remove them from the oven, cool, then test to see if the leaves are crisp. If not, return them to the microwave for a few more seconds. Store in sealed jars in a dark place so they will keep their color and flavor.

Pot up chives, parsley, and other herbs, and bring them into the house to extend the growing season.

Remove any diseased plants from the garden and burn them or bag and dispose of them to prevent spreading disease to future plants. Only compost healthy plants.

Take a tour of your own vegetable garden and make notes on this year’s varieties, successes, challenges and chores, so that you can learn for next year. Make a sketch showing the location of this year’s plants to be used next spring for rotating your crops.

Continue to weed your garden to prevent the weeds from going to seed and germinating over the winter and spring.

Remove all 2 year-old canes from raspberry and blackberry plants to reduce overwintering of disease. Fertilizers containing potassium, phosphorus and magnesium or calcium can be applied but do not cultivate or irrigate at this time of the year.

Keep the strawberry patch weed free. Every weed you pull will help making weeding easier next spring.

Fall weed control around fruit trees is crucial because weeds act as hosts to overwintering insects.

Thanks for joining us in The Garden Shed —  hope to see you again next month!

Sources:

“Gardening by Month–September,” Missouri Botanical Garden, http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/gardening-by-month/september.aspx

“Monthly Horticulture Tip Sheets — Herbs, September,” Va. Coop. Ext. Albemarle/Charlottesville, http://offices.ext.vt.edu/albemarle/programs/anr/tip-sheets/9-14-herbs.pdf

“Monthly Horticulture Tip Sheets — Fruit and Nuts, September,” Va. Coop. Ext. Albemarle/Charlottesville, http://offices.ext.vt.edu/albemarle/programs/anr/tip-sheets/9-14-fruits-nuts.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colchicum and Other Late Season Oddities

If you plan it right, you can have a bulb of some sort in bloom throughout the entire growing season.  We’re all familiar with daffodils, tulips, crocuses, hyacinths and a host of minor bulbs that typically brighten the late winter and spring landscapes.  In summer, we are blessed with warm weather alliums, caladiums, elephant ears, gladiolus, Liatris, and lilies of various kinds.   It may surprise you to learn that autumn has plenty to offer in the way of bulbs as well.  Just as the rest of the garden is beginning to go dormant, the sight of many of the fall-blooming bulbs described below will intrigue and delight you.

COLCHICUM

Colchicum (pronounced KOHL-chi-kum) takes you by surprise when you encounter it in the autumn landscape.  Closely related to lilies (Liliaceae family), it resembles a crocus on steroids.

Colchicum 'Waterlily'

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

However, it is not related to the crocus, which is a member of the Iris family and typically blooms in early spring.  To add to the confusion, some crocuses bloom in the fall (more on those later), plus Colchicum is sometimes referred to as autumn crocus.  It produces vase-shaped blooms beginning in September and continuing into November, depending on the species. Without going into all the botanical differences between the two species, here are a few ways to differentiate between a Colchicum and a crocus:

  • Crocus foliage has a white line down the center of each leaf.  Colchicum foliage does not.
  • Crocus blossoms have three stamens.  Colchicum blossoms have six.
  • Crocus foliage occurs along with the blooms. Colchicum foliage, which is much larger, appears in spring and then dies back in summer.  The flowers appear in autumn without foliage.
  • Fall blooming crocus flowers are either white or bluish lavender.  Colchicum flowers are generally pink or rose lavender, although white forms do exist.
  • Crocus flowers are smaller than those of Colchicum.

In addition to the species, a number of Colchicum hybrids are available through catalogs and on-line sources, including the following selections:

  • ‘Violet Queen’ has deep lilac blossoms with white veining.
  • ‘Lilac Wonder’ has amethyst segments with white lines in the center and is very free flowering.
  • ‘The Giant’ has mauve flowers that are white at the base.  At 10 to 12 inches tall, it is one of the tallest of the Colchicum hybrids and is one of the most free flowering.
  • ‘Waterlily’ is a double-flowered selection with pinkish-lavender blossoms that resemble those of its namesake in color and general form.  This beautiful selection is one of the most popular of the Colchicum hybrids.

Colchicum corms are poisonous, so wear garden gloves when handling them. One downside to some Colclicum species is that their blossoms, which generally grow about 6 to 8 inches tall, tend to flop over after a few days.  A solution to that problem is to plant the corms beneath a ground cover such as vinca, which will support the blossoms.

AUTUMN CROCUS

Crocuses are normally thought of as one of the earliest blooming of the spring bulbs.  However, the genus includes a number of fall-blooming crocus species as well.  With the exception of C. niveus, which has white flowers, the members of this fall-blooming group bloom in various shades of lavender.  All of the autumn-blooming species are interesting, but the following two stand out as being of particular interest:

Crocus speciosus (Showy crocus) – This heirloom species, dating back to 1800, blooms in shades of mauve to violet blue. Named as plant of the month for November 2012, the Alpine Garden Society describes this species as “one of the best of the autumn crocus….”  Just a few hybridized showy crocus selections include:

  • ‘Cassiope’ – Large bluish lavender flowers
  • ‘Aino’ –  Large, deep bluish-purple flowers
  • ‘Conqueror’ – Large, violet-blue flowers, which are significantly larger than other C. speciosus species.
Crocus sativus

Crocus sativus

Crocus Sativus (Saffron Crocus) – This plant is the source of saffron, the culinary spice used to color and flavor many Indian, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes, including curries and Spanish paella.  It takes about five dozen C. sativus blossoms to produce just one tablespoon of the reddish-orange threads, which are actually the stigmas from the blossoms.  Each purple, cup-shaped blossom contains three stigmas.  For the home gardener interested in growing C. sativus, plant two or three dozen bulbs in a sunny, well-drained location.  They will gradually multiply, providing more of the spice with each successive year.

STERNBERGIA LUTEA

Commonly called lily of the field, this heirloom (pre-1601) bulb, a member of the Amaryllidaceae family, has identity issues.  Its golden yellow blossoms look similar to those of a crocus. However, Sternbergia lutea is neither a lily nor a crocus.  To add to the confusion, this bulb is sometimes referred to as autumn daffodil, yet it bears no resemblance whatsoever to daffodils other than its color.  Despite the confusion about its identity, this four to six-inch tall plant provides plenty of color in the September landscape.  It shows to best advantage at the front of the border either in small scattered groupings or in a large mass planting.  The foliage appears along with the flowers and persists until spring before it finally dies back.

CYCLAMEN

A member of the Primulaceae family, low-growing Cyclamen is an excellent addition to rock gardens and naturalized shady woodland gardens.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

The flowers range from white to deep magenta pink.  While the uniquely shaped, reflexed flowers are dainty and lovely to look at, the beautifully mottled heart- or arrow-shaped foliage catches the eye in a natural setting. Depending on the species, the leaves may be marked with silver spots or zones or various shades of green or gray.  The leaves and flower stalks arise directly from the Cyclamen tuber.  Of the 20 species of Cyclamen that exist, choose the hardier forms for the autumn garden, such as C. hederifolium or C. purpurascens, which can thrive in USDA Zones 5 or 6.  Do not confuse the hardy forms of Cyclamen with C. persicum, a large-flowered strain that was bred in the late 1800s for use as a house plant.

LYCORIS RADIATA

Lycoris radiata

Lycoris radiata

A member of the amaryllis family, this heirloom bulb is known by a series of common names (spider lily, magic lily, hurricane lily, surprise lily, naked ladies, resurrection lily, etc.).  The bulbs typically lie dormant until late summer or early autumn rains trigger it to bloom.  At that point, one to two-foot tall leafless flower stalks rise from the soil, each bearing umbels of four to six dramatic coral-red flowers.  Each flower has very long spidery-looking stamens, which lends it an airy look and is the source of its common name of spider lily.  The blooms fade quickly in hot weather but will last a bit longer when planted in partial shade.  Once the flower stalk dies, the bulb sends up long, strap-like, grayish green leaves, which persist through winter and then die back in spring.  Spider lilies naturalize by bulb offsets and will form small colonies over time. In addition to the red-blooming species, a variety called Alba has white blooms.  A related species (L. aurea) produces golden yellow blossoms.

LYCORIS SQUAMIGERA

Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera

This cousin of L. radiata is the most cold hardy of the Lycoris species and shares many of the same common names as its red-flowering counterpart — naked lady, resurrection lily, or surprise Lily.  Like L. radiata, this species is at its most glorious as a mass planting.  The foliage appears in the spring and then dies back.  In late summer, one to two-foot tall sturdy leafless scapes rise from the soil, each bearing 6 to 8 trumpet-shaped blossoms in a crown.  The flower color on this species is a delicate shade of pinkish lavender. The blossoms are long lasting on the plant and as a cut flower in floral arrangements.  The bulbs don’t like to be disturbed after they are planted and may not come up the first year.  Divide the bulbs when flowering starts to become sparse and replant them immediately.  They don’t like to dry out.

CANNA LILY

Canna Lily Flower

Canna Lily Flower

Canna lily is the exclusive member of the Cannaceae family and is another fall-blooming bulb (rhizome, actually) that swings into action in August and September when the rest of the garden is winding down.  Nine species from the Americas and Asia belong to this family of plants.  Most cannas grown today are hybrids that have been bred specifically for flower size and leaf coloration.  For such hybrids, C. flaccida from Florida is the principal parent for flower size and C. indica from Central America is the major parent for variegated foliage.  Height is an important consideration when selecting cannas for the landscape.  While many selections top out at three to four feet, the tallest canna species or hybrids can grow to more than six feet.  Fortunately, for gardeners who want a vertical accent but not one that tall, many shorter hybrids are available, including some dwarf varieties that grow only 18 to 24 inches tall.  The shorter varieties make great accent plants for container gardens.  Cannas bloom in a wide range of colors with interesting looking flower spikes that can last for several weeks.  They attract pollinators of all kinds, including bees and other insects, hummingbirds, and even bats.  Collectively, canna lilies make a dramatic statement in the mixed border with their bold foliage, colorful flowers, tropical appearance, and vertical form.  While some canna selections are reported to be hardy in USDA Zone 7, others need protection from cold, wet winter conditions.   If in doubt, carefully dig up the rhizomes to avoid damaging them and store them in a cool, frost-free area over winter.  Replant in spring once the danger of frost is past.

DAHLIA

Dahlia Blossoms

Dahlia Blossoms

Members of the Asteraceae plant family, dahlias are perhaps the quintessential late-season flowering bulb.  Originating in Mexico and Central America, this most glorious of fall-blooming bulbs was prized by the Aztecs centuries ago.  Finding its way to Europe in the late 1700s, it became widely hybridized and eventually circled back to the New World, where it is enthusiastically grown by both collectors and gardening amateurs alike.  For those of us who think the rose is the queen of the ornamental garden, it could be argued that the glorious, dramatic, scene-stealing dahlia presents some serious competition for the title.  More than 20,000 dahlia cultivars are listed on the Royal Horticultural Society’s International Registry.  The American Dahlia Society recognizes 14 official dahlia categories, including collarette, waterlily, decorative, ball, pom pom, cactus, anemone, and single-flowered.  Technically a tuber rather than a bulb, dahlias should be planted about two weeks before the last expected frost in a sunny location in soil that has been deeply cultivated and amended with organic matter.  In autumn, carefully dig up the tubers after frost kills the foliage.  Once the soil dries on the roots, clean them with a soft brush or cloth and store in a well-ventilated, frost-free area.

CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS AND CARE OF FALL-FLOWERING BULBS

Fall-flowering bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers are generally low maintenance and have few cultural requirements.

  • Before planting, choose the site carefully.  Some of these plants do not like to be disturbed once they are planted.
  • Of the bulbs described, most prefer a sunny to partially shady site.  Colchicum and autumn crocus will bloom only when the flowers are exposed to sunlight.  Cyclamen, on the other hand, prefers some shade.
  • Plant in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.  Good drainage is particularly important in winter.
  • Plant at the proper recommended depth for the species.
  • Plant with the root side down.  If it’s not possible to figure this out, plant the bulb on its side.
  • Mark where autumn-blooming species are planted to avoid planting over top of them in spring.
  • In the absence of rain, provide some water during periods of drought.  Some fall-flowering bulbs require moisture in order to bloom.
  • Most autumn-blooming bulbs are deer, rabbit, and vole resistant and subject to few, if any, plant diseases.

SOURCES

Alpine Garden Society (www.alpinegardensociety.net)

American Dahlia Society (http://www.dahlia.org/)

Bulbs (Bryan, John E., 2002)

Clemson Cooperative Extension Pub. HGIC 1156, ‘Summer- & Fall-Flowering Bulbs, (www.clemson.edu)

“Dahlias,” Chicago Botanic Garden article (http://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/dahlias)

50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants – The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat (Clausen, Ruth Rogers, 2011)

 

 

The Ornamental Garden in September

If you’re tired of hot, humid weather, relief is in sight!  September 22 marks the autumnal equinox, the official start of autumn. The word “equinox” is derived from the Latin term meaning equal.  It denotes the time of year when days and nights are of equal length.  From this time forward, the days will grow shorter than the nights as the earth’s northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun and temperatures begin to cool. This is an ideal time of year to plant perennials, cool-season annuals, shrubs, and trees.  It’s also the right time to divide perennials and buy bulbs for next year’s garden.  With so much to do, September can be one of the busiest months of the year for a gardener.

WHAT’S IN BLOOM IN SEPTEMBER?

Some gardeners view September as an “in between” month in the garden.  The summer annuals and perennials are pretty much done for the season but the autumn leaves are not quite ready to start changing color. The result is a landscape that may look tired and uninspiring. But there are ways to solve that problem:

  • A general sprucing up can make a big difference in your garden’s appearance. Clean up and remove all dead or diseased foliage.   Re-edge the borders, if they need it, to provide a nice sharp line of demarcation between lawn and garden.
    Author's Ornamental Garden in September

    Author’s Ornamental Garden in September

  • Cut back and fertilize leggy annuals for one more flush of blossoms.  Or, if the plants appear to be beyond hope, replace them with cool season bedding plants, such as mums or ornamental cabbage and kale.
  • For future reference, make a note to shear back mounding perennials, such as hardy geraniums, catmint, spiderwort, and salvia, after they finish blooming in the summer.   This encourages the plants to send out fresh new growth.  Some perennials, depending on the species, may even reward you with another round of blossoms before frost.
  • Visit some public gardens for inspiration.  Notice the plants that are in bloom at this time of year and try to visualize plantings that would make your garden more appealing. Don’t limit yourself to just flowers.  Consider plants that have interesting foliage or texture.  Some of the most fascinating gardens rely on foliage, contrasting shapes, hardscape features, and even light and shadow, rather than flowers, to carry the show.
  • Consider plants that have interesting fruits, berries or bark.  Rose hips, for example, make a fine substitute for flowers.  The clusters of colorful berries on beautyberry shrubs (Callicarpa Americana), winterberries (Ilex verticillata) and some viburnum species lend a great deal of excitement to the landscape. For a pleasing textural element, consider trees with exfoliating bark, such as paperbark maple (Acer griseum), river birch (Betula nigra), and some crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia).

TREES AND SHRUBS

This is the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs.  Without the stress of hot summer weather, plants can focus on developing good root systems before the onset of winter. Root development stops once soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Newly installed plants are happiest when the soil temperatures range between 55° and 75°F.   Water both evergreen and deciduous trees until freezing weather takes hold.  For suggestions of shrubs and shade trees  to plant, check out the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s publication 450-236, Problem-Free Shrubs for Virginia Landscapes, and publication 426-610, Selecting Landscape Plants:  Shade Trees.

Wait until spring before fertilizing newly planted trees or shrubs at this time of year.   If you fertilize at this time of year, the plant may try to push out new growth instead of preparing itself for dormancy.

Inspect all trees and shrubs for fall webworms, tent caterpillars, and bagworms.  Remove and destroy any that you find.   Try not to prune branches at this time of year.

Don’t become alarmed if the needles on white pines (Pinus strobus) start to show some yellowing around mid to late September.  It’s perfectly normal for the older, interior needles to shed.

ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS

For early blooms next spring, direct sow seeds this fall for cool-season annuals, such as Calendula, California poppy, Shirley poppies, larkspur, love-in-a-mist, and sweet alyssum.

Root cuttings from annuals to overwinter indoors.  It’s easier to overwinter rooted cuttings than to dig up large, often leggy, older plant specimens from the garden.  Geraniums, begonias, coleus, fuschias, annual salvias, pentas, lantana, heliotrope, and impatiens can be easily rooted and will thrive indoors if grown in good lighting.  Take the cuttings and bring them indoors for potting before the weather starts to cool down.

Save seeds from your favorite non-hybridized annual and perennial species for planting next year. Keep in mind that seeds from hybridized plants are often sterile and, even if they are not, the plants that grow from those seeds are unlikely to resemble the parent plant.

  • Gather seeds when they are fully ripe, but leave some for the birds to eat over winter.
  • If seeds aren’t already fully dry, spread them out on newspapers or leave them in an open paper bag to dry.
  • Place the dried seeds in envelopes or glass jars labeled with the seed’s name and the date.
  • Store the packaged seeds in a cool place. Some gardeners like to store their seeds in the refrigerator.
  • TIP:  Seeds from your garden make nice hostess gifts to give over the holidays.

Make a list of perennials that need to be divided. Decide which ones to divide this fall and which ones to divide in spring.  While spring is an excellent time to divide perennials, September and early October are ideal months, due to the combination of warm soil, cooler temperatures, and a greater chance of rain.   Peonies and hostas are two perennials that respond well to being divided at this time of year:

  • Peonies – As peony clumps become overgrown, they produce fewer blossoms.  This is a signal that the clump should be divided.  September or October is the best time to perform this task after the plant begins to go dormant. Carefully remove the soil from around the roots and try not to damage the “eyes,” which produce the flowering stems for next year’s blossoms.  Using hand pruners, carefully divide the clump into divisions that have three or more eyes each and a good root system.  Dip the peony roots in a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) to kill any fungal spores.  After the roots dry, plant them in a prepared sunny location.  Peonies will not bloom if they are planted too deeply, so it’s important to plant them with the eyes positioned no deeper than 1 or 2 inches below the soil surface.  Be aware that peonies often don’t bloom the first spring after they have been divided.  So just be patient.
  • Hostas – It’s time to divide hostas when they become crowded or the center of a clump starts to die out.  While they may be divided anytime between spring and fall, late summer (August or early September) is generally the ideal time to divide them so that they have time to become established before the onset of cold weather.   Plant the divisions the same depth at which they were growing originally and water well.

BULBS

As you select spring bulbs for planting this fall, keep in mind that a mass planting of one color is generally more visually pleasing than a mixture of colors.  Also, the display is likely to be more effective if planted against a contrasting background.  For example, a mass planting of pale lavender-blue Spanish hyacinths emerging through a bed of dark green vinca can be unbelievably stunning!   When it comes to gardening, sometimes less is more.

WEEDS AND OTHER NUISANCES

Weeds never take a break, which means that you must continue to remove them from your landscape until a hard freeze.   Here are a couple of weedy thugs to pay attention to:

  • Ragweed

    Ragweed

    Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) – This broad-leafed weed has a notorious reputation for causing seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in millions of Americans every year.  It typically blooms beginning in August and produces a fine pollen that peaks around mid-September.  A broadleaf weed killer may kill it but if you prefer to garden organically, pull it up by hand or use a hoe to remove it from cultivated beds.

  • Ailanthus – Although technically a tree and not a weed, this fast-growing plant competes with native species in the landscape.  The National Park Service reports that Ailanthus is invasive in natural areas in 30 states in the continental United States and Hawaii.
    Ailanthus altissima

    Ailanthus altissima

    The large clusters of yellowish-green flowers are quite showy during summer.  However, a single tree can produce about 325,000 seeds per year.  Because it seeds so prolifically, it is able to establish dense stands that crowd out native plants. Do not confuse this tree with staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), which is a native species.  For more information on how to control Ailanthus, see VCE Pub. 420-322, Invasive Exotic Plant Species:  Ailanthus.

SEPTEMBER GARDEN PESTS

Autumn may be upon us, but garden pests are still out in full force.  Here’s a couple to look out for:

  • Spider Mites – Small and barely visible to the naked eye, azalea mites (Eotetranychus clitus) and southern red mites (Oliogonychus ilicis) are commonly found on azaleas, rhododendrons, and hollies.
    Spider Mite Damage

    Spider Mite Damage

    In general, they may be found on the underside of leaves where they suck plant sap causing the leaves to change color from dark green to stippled yellow or gray-green.  The leaves may also be covered with fine webbing.  Mites are not actually insects but are more closely related to spiders.  They are “cool season” pests, meaning that they are more active in spring and fall and mostly inactive during summer and winter. A stream of water directed at the leaves helps to dislodge the mites.

  • Iris Borers – Irises are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases.  One of the most annoying is the iris borer, which is the larvae of the brownish-looking nocturnal Miller Moth (Macronoctua onusta).  The moth lays its eggs on old iris leaves and flower stalks in autumn.  The larvae hatch in late spring and tunnel into the leaves on their way down to the rhizome where they feed in summer and early fall.  The damage they cause makes the rhizome susceptible to bacterial soft rot.  To break the life cycle of this pest, remove dead leaves from rhizomes in autumn to prevent any eggs from surviving over the winter months.
  • Holly Leaf MinersPhytomyza ilicicola is a small black fly that is a common pest of American hollies.  It causes damage at the larval (maggot) stage of its development.   In early spring, the adult female fly punctures small holes in holly leaves and deposits eggs.   When the eggs hatch, the young maggots feed inside the leaves, causing light green serpentine tunnels.  Most of the damage is done in autumn, so September is a good time to examine hollies for signs of leaf miner damage.  If not controlled, the larvae will overwinter in the leaves and emerge from mid-May to late June to begin a new life cycle.  To control a light infestation, pick off damaged leaves and destroy them before the insect can complete its life cycle.  A heavily infested plant may drop many or most of its leaves and may require a systemic insecticide application.

HOUSEPLANTS

If you moved your houseplants outdoors this spring, it’s time to start preparing them for the transition back indoors before night temperatures fall below 55°F.  Move them to a porch or other shady spot for about two weeks so that they become acclimated to less light.  Before moving them indoors, inspect plants for insects (don’t forget to check under pot rims for spiders).  Wipe down all pots and saucers to remove dirt and debris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Rosemary GF Crackers

In September, as we transition from summer to fall, there is still a place for relaxing on the porch with a tall glass of iced tea and cookies. I served this savory gluten free shortbread at the June 2 PMG membership meeting. Several people requested the recipe, and I thought this would be a good time to share it with all. Be patient as you work with the rather crumbly dough and allow extra time for chilling it in the freezer.

Rosemary Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Makes 24 Cookies

Ingredients

2½ cups blanched almond flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

½ cup grape seed oil

5 Tablespoons agave nectar or honey

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, hazelnuts, and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grape seed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Roll the dough into a large log, 2½ inches in diameter, then wrap in parchment paper. (Note: I find two smaller logs are easier to manage.) Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the log from the freezer, unwrap it, and cut it into ¼ inch thick slices with a wet knife. Transfer the slices onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 30 minutes. Serve.

 

Resource:  the GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND FLOUR cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, 2009