A quick follow-up to my frustration of last week. So the next day I brought home some starting fluid and a new spark plug from the store. As I was taking apart the air filter housing so I could spray …
A quick follow-up to my frustration of last week. So the next day I brought home some starting fluid and a new spark plug from the store. As I was taking apart the air filter housing so I could spray starting fluid into the carburetor, I notice a loose nut under the housing that was letting it wobble. So I got down to tighten it up and when I did, I noticed a small black lever near the throttle control. Guess what, it was a choke lever, that I had completely forgot about and it is not marked or labeled as such. So before I even used the starting fluid, I just wanted to check to see if it would start with just the choke lever adjusted. Well it started on the first pull, no new spark plug or starting fluid needed. Now that is why you need a gardener's journal, so you can write down all this darn stuff that you are going to forget about. But I can still remember the theme to the Brady Bunch.
Well mother nature threw us from the freezer to fryer after a cold Memorial Day weekend to record breaking heat last weekend and like us, our plants are having a hard time adjusting. The heat is even worse than the cold, especially for new plants. The problem is that the new plants do not have the root base yet to sustain the plant growth when the temperatures get over eighty-five degrees this early in the growing season. This week alone we have had a dozen customers or more come in asking about why their plants are dying off even when they are keeping them watered. Ideal temperatures for young seedlings is in the sixty-five to seventy-five degree range, when it gets too hot the roots cannot supply water fast enough to the top of the plant and the plant starts to fry. Cellular damage will quickly wilt the plant and continued exposure to the hot sun will cause the plant to die in a matter of hours. We had that problem at the store last week, where we got a delivery of bedding plants in early in the morning. They were dry when they came in so we put a sprinkler over the area, but because the sun was so hot, some of the plants still perished even though they had water. The roots just couldn't keep up with demand and we couldn't get them out of the sun fast enough. Sometimes more mature plants will have that same problem, but because they are older they are tougher and can handle more extreme heat. A perfect example of this is sometimes our hanging baskets at the store start to get droopy even when they are well watered and it is a similar problem like the seedlings. The plants in the hanging baskets only have so much root, so when the weather gets really hot they start to droop or curl-up so that less water will evaporate from the leaves, giving the roots a chance to catch up to demand. Also because the roots are shaded more with larger plants, they stay cooler and can process more water. Tomato or cucumber seedlings with two or three leaves don't stand a chance at shading their roots and with the ninety degree heat we had last weekend, many newly planted plants died. In most cases it wasn't that anyone did anything wrong, it was just too hot for these plants at this time of the year. This is why we don't plant gardens in August.
And lastly the question of the week, the difference between determinate and indeterminate potatoes. I was asked this question this week and it threw me at first, because I had heard about, but like the choke lever, forgot about it. Determinate and indeterminate potatoes are defined by growth patterns. Determinate potatoes are varieties with tubers that grow in just one layer. For this reason, the plants do not require mounding of the soil around them. Indeterminate potatoes grow in multiple layers, so it is important to mound soil around the plants. This will give you a better yield. The reason I had forgot about all this is that the newer seed potato varieties can be grown either way depending on the amount of work you want to do. If you mound, you will get more yield. So the more work you put in, the more bounty you shall receive.
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