Northern & Central Midwest

July, 2011
Regional Report

Prune Suckers

Most suckers on fruit trees and small ornamentals will have slowed their growth. Now is the time to prune them out since they won't come back readily. Be sure to also prune water sprouts on apples and crabapples. Water sprouts are the straight, upward growing shoots that have no side branches.

Pick Broccoli Rabe Daily

Pick broccoli rabe (rapini) daily to keep your plants producing. The soft shoots with flower buds attached are the tastiest and most tender. Steam them for about two minutes, squeeze out the moisture to remove some of the bitterness. Then chop and add to salad, pasta or rice.

Make a Bait for Ants

If ants are damaging your plants, as they sometimes do, make simple baits of confectioners sugar and borax. Put in a small container with a lid punched with ant-sized holes. The ants take the sugar and borax back to the nest which kills them. It's important not to put the traps were children or pets can come into contact with them.

Uncover Squash and Cucumbers

If you've covered cucumbers and squash with floating covers to prevent pests, be sure to uncover them as soon as they begin to bloom so the pollinators can get to them. If you do end up with squash vine borers, slit the stem, remove the borer and bury the damaged part of the stem so it can heal itself.

Prune Spring-Blooming Trees

Most spring-blooming trees and shrubs can be pruned now. They will be setting next year's flower buds soon, so if they need heading back, renewal pruning, or simply shaping, try to do it before the end of July. Keep in mind that not all shrubs and trees need to be pruned each year.

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