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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Bonnie Blodgett: Summer weather, pests, bindweed … and wild petunias

So how does heat affect plants? I think we’re on the hard way, aren’t we?

Bonnie Blodgett
Bonnie Blodgett

As I write today’s garden column in the air-conditioned comfort of a small guest room that has a window unit, outside with a heat index of 102 in the high 90s.

It’s a lot colder than England right now, so let’s be grateful and look at the um, sunny side.

Speaking of which, I have sealed a deal with All Energy Solar and Xcel (I was lucky enough to be involved in an incentive program) to install solar panels on my roof in November.

It’s not like I’ll never see savings in my lifetime.

The Other Side of “Heaven”

F.i.  Beaded Droplets On A Statue Of Scott Fitzgerald.
F.I. Raindrops bead on Scott Fitzgerald statue. (John Otte / Pioneer Press)

My house is located facing south and east, not shady trees unless you count the distances that are wide enough to shade someone else’s yard.

Thus my conscience has been bugging me for years, even as architects have tried to reassure me that installing solar panels on an 1880s house is a crime.

My house is quite attractive, but no showstopper. Its age is its main claim to fame, with features being more enjoyable when one is indoors, such as tall windows and high ceilings that let out wide beams of light, a feature made even better by the double lot next door (my neighbor’s) and wide streets on three other sides, and tropical houseplants that spend the summer in the garden and the winter indoors, where they get lots of light and really like to be there now that the summers are so windy and Be hot and unpredictable, delivering hail with storms that are actually the size of golf balls.

In addition, the house is tall and the roof is therefore barely visible from the street. Even the ceiling of the front porch, which soon turns dazzling black from end to end, can only be seen by neighbors across the street from their second floor, and only then when their shady trees have taken their toll. Lost summer leaves.

As far as the risk that My House loses its shot at being designated a historical landmark someday, that’s only when your many truly unfinished fictional masterpieces are discovered.

Then we would have not one but two houses of literary note in the neighbourhood. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived across the street from me when he was writing “This Side of Paradise.”

But it is the childhood home of the immortal writer at the summit that gets all the attention. That Garrison Keeler lived for some time in a house on the same block (actually, across the street from the unhygienic Fitzgerald landmark) that hasn’t been so well preserved as a memorial plaque tells you about Summit Avenue. .

My only real concern with regards to the panels is that there is more heat and humidity as well as more cloudiness. Sunlight produces energy, not heat. If the light is blocked out most days, even in winter (we used to have one of the sunniest Januarys in the country; not anymore), how will it affect my energy bill?

Would I be better off erecting a small wind turbine?

How does heat affect plants?

A File Photo Of A Summer Tomato Crop (Dreamstime.com)
File photo of summer tomato harvest (Dreamstime.com)

So how does heat affect plants? I thought you’d never ask.

Similar issues apply. Take tomatoes. They are said to love the heat and mine are definitely going gangbusters, which begs a more timely question: When should you start deadheading flowers to focus the plant’s energy on the fruits that will survive the first frost? Give it a chance to cook before? Maybe last week.

But don’t they need solar energy to sweeten them after ripening? Do low-hanging clouds reduce sunlight even as the heat rises?

“Low-hanging” is the key word here. I’ve been told that haze clouds covered up in the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect-causing carbon gases end up, don’t block sunlight as much as dense, low-lying clouds do, that give torrential rains.

The lower clouds are denser due to gravity (the closer it gets to Earth’s surface the stronger it gets) and the moisture content. Of course, these two events are related.

I estimate that any changes to my tomatoes will be negligible. But this question is worth asking. Especially if someone reading this knows the answer and will send me an email.

The main heat loss is the tendency to increase plant diseases, such as powdery mildew and other such fungal disorders, as well as pests. Lyn Kirk, a garden columnist for Post-Dispatch in Richmond, VA, where it’s noticeably warmer than here, recently shed light on why. “Extended periods of warm temperatures allow several generations of insects to lay eggs several times each year. For example, spider mites can complete five times more generations at temperatures in the 90s than at temperatures in the 50s. can.…

“(n) New generations arise more frequently: every seven days! The same is true for other multi-generational insects, such as the lace worms on azaleas and cotoneasters.

“Insect processes are also accelerated in urban areas, which can be 18 degrees warmer than in surrounding suburbs and natural areas. For example, the survival rate of scale insects and egg production by female scales can increase during the city’s warming. The island effect could cause an increase in downtown. This enables certain insect populations to explode in the heat islands.”

It gets worse.

“Climate change may enable insect and mite insects to run through windows of vulnerability and escape death from natural enemies, shifting nature’s balance in favor of insects. The rapid growth and development of small juvenile insects causes may be less vulnerable to predators and parasites.”

rain barrel feature

A Line Of Umbrellas For Sale At The Minnesota State Fair.
Umbrella row. (Molly Guthre / Pioneer Press)

It’s hard to tell how moisture plays into all of this, as rain doesn’t come as before, but a sudden torrent of rain that encourages runoff unless your garden soil is rich in sponge-like humus.

I’ve written about the convenience of rain barrels time and time again. I have equipped my latest barrel (I have seven now) with a “rain chain” bought at the hardware store.

But the heart of the operation is the barrel itself, which doesn’t have to be a hose to be useful. Most of my barrels once contained huge trees or shrubs. I sewed up the drain holes and saved them for a rainy day.

I use my watering cans to keep potted plants from drying out (by plunging the can into the barrel), which in this hot weather they will do within a few hours of their last watering.

Watering this way provides an excellent upper body workout and lets you keep a close eye on plants that may need other attention, such as deadheading.

wild petunia

Wild Petunia In Bonnie Blodgett'S Yard In July 2022.  (Courtesy Of Bonnie Blodgett)
Wild petunia in Bonnie Blodgett’s yard in July 2022. (Courtesy of Bonnie Blodgett)

Flowering annuals generally need deadheading every day (does summer make them flower more? Perhaps.)—unless they are “self-cleaners,” such as impatiens or million bells.

Perennials may also be dead. Evergreen roses especially benefit from this. (Not all perennials bloom more than once in the summer.) I deadhead my rugos mainly because their attractive magenta color and pungent scent attract Japanese beetles and my chickens love the whole package, both the bugs and the petals. does.

When the beetles are gone, I let the rugos go to seed. Rose hips are lovely in holiday bouquets.

Deadheading is necessary if you want more flowers and/or if the plant is a self-seeder and you do not want its offspring to take over your garden.

My garden is home to countless examples of this type of plant. Just when I feel that my carelessness (I like to think of it as a soft heart) is destroying my garden, something like this happens to change my mind:

The wild petunia bloomed. I had forgotten all about them because their leaves did not appear until the end of June. One day, I walk outside in a powder blue sea.

These are petunias that haven’t been neutered, such as the popular hybrids that I love because they bloom nonstop all summer.

Wild petunias are ruellia humilis in Latin, while petunias are petunias.

Wild petunias are simply called petunias because their flowers look like petunias, have the same bell shape and velvety texture, and petunias (aka petunias) are far more common.

Wild petunias blend well with another great acquisition artist, California poppies, which are golden yellow in color.


Bindweed in Bonnie Blodgett’s yard in July 2022. (Courtesy of Bonnie Blodgett)

One newcomer whose presence I can’t rationalize on the basis of beauty is a wild morning-glory (Convolvulus) relative called field bindweed.

Don’t let the pretty pink flowers fool me. With its delicate-looking, thread-like stems that are as strong as steel wire, bindweed is bound and determined to take charge of the aptly named Hell Strip (the space between the sidewalk and the street in city gardens), even though its That means killing off the great Russian sage, Clematis recta, salvia, wild iris and Rudbeckia herbeston, which will soon overpower all others.

These bindweeds will be completely intertwined before being strangled.

Field bindweed is the type of plant we’ll be seeing more of as our summers get warmer.

World Nation News Desk
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