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‘Green thumbs’ not fazed by dry season


While there certainly is no argument over the fact that dry conditions have prevailed here this summer, at least two local "green thumbs" are doing very little complaining about it.

And given that both of them scored top points in the local horticultural society’s annual Flower and Vegetable show last Thursday at the J.A. Mathieu Auditorium, they must have found a secret weapon against the arid climate.

Or not.

"I’ve not had any problems other than I had to water a lot," said Astrid Sobkowicz, who earned the "Flower" and "Grand Aggregate" trophies in the show, which attracted more than 200 entries in 12 categories.

Boris Katerick, winner of the "Vegetable" trophy, agreed, adding there are really only two defenses against a dry summer.

"There is no secret recipe," he chuckled. "The main thing is to water and weed. If you don’t weed, it doesn’t grow."

Katerick, who won 17 first-place ribbons out of 21 vegetable entries, also said he primed his garden with some good old-fashioned composting, a routine he follows at the beginning and end of each gardening season.

But Sobkowicz admitted the hot, dry conditions were no friend to the rose this year, and suggested there was not a lot that could be done to encourage them to produce healthy blossoms.

The grasshopper explosion this summer also was a bit of menace, she added, citing that insect as the cause for the drop in show entries of flowers like the dahlia.

"Grasshoppers have eaten all around the edge of the blossoms. That is extremely unusual," she noted. "I have never [encountered] this problem before."

"Some people were telling me they had their beans stripped. [Grasshoppers] are sitting on everything," she added.

"They are very prolific this year," agreed forestry graduate Melanie Mathieson. "They’ve munched on a few things but they’re not really breaking my heart this year.

"But I don’t notice as many mosquitoes now," she added. "Everything is a trade-off."

Meanwhile, Mathieson said local gardeners shouldn’t worry too much about the cool evenings of late, adding that’s fairly normal for August.

"Tomatoes are ripening now, and sure I’ll cover them and my hot peppers if it gets too cold," she noted. "But there’s nothing really left [in gardens] to worry about."

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