Bigger Dahlias, More Squash

Dahlias always make larger flowers – with longer cutting stems – if you disbud them, and as they swing into high gear in late summer this small attention can really pay off. Just use your fingernails or a manicure scissors to remove the small side buds that form under each large one.
Summer squash should be starting heavy production long about now, so it’s time to start lifting those leaves. Neglected fruits don’t just grow tough and watery, they tell the plant – by their maturing seeds – that it’s okay to quit making more.
So the squash mantra is always “keep them picked to keep them coming ” … but don’t try to get ahead by picking them too soon. Zucchini looks cute when it’s finger sized, topped with a stiff, unopened flower, but it doesn’t taste like much at that stage. Ideal harvest time for zucchinis – and crooknecks, straightnecks, pattypans and cousas – is shortly after the flower opens ( shortly being defined as anywhere from an hour or so to 3 days).
In very hot weather, plants wilt at midday even when they aren’t thirsty, but if yours seem to be slow reviving , look pale, or show other signs of stress, that stress may be dry soil. Don’t be deceived by a damp top layer, dig down 3 or 4 inches to check. When watering is indicated, be sure to do it at ground level or use the sprinkler early in the day. Wet leaves and humid nights are a justly famous recipe for the spread of fungus disease.

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