A: You sure do have time! Go ahead and plant your peas since we still have well over 90 days of growing time left this season. Look for seed packets that list “days to harvest” of less than the 90, and you should be able to get great harvests.
I am confident that you aren’t limited to just growing peas either. Green beans, okra, and most all of the leafy greens, carrots, radishes, and even several varieties of squash could come to fruition well before the first killing frost of this year.
Since we are blessed with usually mild weather through the last of October, I’d say go for it.
Q: I am having a hard time keeping the humidity level up around my orchid plants. Do you have a suggestion that’ll make their lives easier?
A: My suggestion is creating large humidifying trays to set your collection of orchids on. Making the trays isn’t difficult or expensive. Depending on the width of the shelf the orchids live on, aim to find a tray that’ll take up that whole space. Consider cookie sheets, metal shelving turned upside down or decorative lacquer trays. You can spend as much or as little as you see fit.
Be sure the tray has a lip of 3/4 to two inches. Fill it to the brim with some sort of porous medium like aquarium gravel, small decorative pebbles or marbles. Set your orchid containers, saucer and all directly on top. Be sure to separate the orchid pot from the gravel fill (hence the saucer), because the cleaner you keep the tray, the healthier the spot will stay.
Now pour as much water – distilled is best – into the tray as it can hold without overflowing. There you have it. As the water evaporates, it’ll help humidify the space where the orchids live. And since New Mexico is a fairly dry place, any time you add humidity to your air it’s all good!
Q: I planted several dahlia plants this spring, and they’ve done pretty well. The flowers are just now coming on, but the few that have opened look ratty. What could be troubling the dahlias?
A: Two things come to mind. First, the recent rains and hail storms could have battered this round of blooms, and they just couldn’t recover.
As the season advances and the weather moderates, perhaps you’ll still get several stunning blooms from the dahlia plants.
Second, I’d be out there checking for an insipid wee pest called a ‘thrip’. Snip off one of the spent blooms and gently thump it directly on a piece of paper. Closely, watch the “dust” that has collected on the paper. Does it start to move? If so your dahlias are hosting thrip.
You can spray the plants from stem to stern with a ready-to-use pesticide, making sure thrip is listed as a pest controlled by the spray, and try to eliminate the thrip. However, if the flower bud has cracked open just the tiniest bit, more than likely the thrip is already partying amongst the flower petals, causing damage that will be hard to eliminate.
Usually, I suggest snipping off all the bud and bloom if you do have thrip, but since you get the one big bloom series with dahlia that seems counterproductive!
So I’d recommend spraying for this situation, enjoying the blooms as much as you can and as the plants finish a flower, snip it off and dispose of it quickly. No composting; dispose of the spent flowers.
Hope this helps and happy first weekend of August while you are out there Diggin’ In!
Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your gardenrelated questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.