The sun is bright and the thermometer is slowly rising. It
seems that the meteorological
community is in agreement that the temperatures this month have
been above normal. It could be as warm as 60˚
tomorrow. No complaints here. In fact if we don't receive
another cold snap (like the one we had in December) or any more
snow this winter that would be fine by me. The older I get the
colder I get. So far, this winter I can weather. I guess
the need to find a place to overwinter may just have to
buds on our dogwood and magnolia. If I were to give my dianthus
a good haircut I bet I could get them to bloom within the next
week or so. That is of course if the weather continues to
cooperate. The pansies I planted last fall are still alive and
We could use some rain to give everything a good drink but I
must say that things in the garden are starting to take shape.
Is that good or bad?
It's not too late to provide winter care
mulch for your tea roses. Mulching tea roses
involves protecting the graft union of the
plant, normally just at, or below, the soil level.
The best and easiest way to protect the graft is with a mound of
soil. The mound of garden soil should be six to eight inches,
poured in a cone shape right over the center of the plant.
This soil should not come from
the surrounding plant, as this could
damage the roots. It is best to
bring soil in from another part of the garden or purchase a bag
Approach To Houseplant Pests...
Insects on houseplants are a major pain.
Not only are they hurting your plants but control measures using
chemicals are pretty undesirable to a lot of homeowners. Here
are three control approaches that minimize risk to you and your
pick-off caterpillars, slugs, and other larger pests.
Swab pests with a small brush or
cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. This method is
feasible when plants are small and infestations very light. It
is tedious and must be done once a week over a period of time.
- Plants can also
be washed in a diluted mixture of
water and insecticidal soap, or
gently spray-washed with lukewarm water. Repeated
washings over a period of time are necessary to gradually
infestation is severe, it may be preferable to discard the plant
and replace it rather than attempt chemical control.
Tipping The Scale...
Now is a great time to inspect your trees and shrubs for scale
insects. With the leaves off the trees, inspecting the stems and
bark crevices is much easier. Go slowly and look carefully, since
many types of scale look like a part of the branch or otherwise
blend in well with the host plant. Plan an application of
horticultural oil if scale populations are above tolerable
levels. Horticultural oil can be applied at any time of year, but
temperatures should be at 40°F or higher for 24 hours after an
application. Be sure to read and follow all directions on the
So, you're getting ready to start some seeds indoors and
don't know if last year's leftovers are still good. Well, you
can start by checking the typical
viability of 20 popular vegetable seeds in the table below:
absolutely sure here's a trick we use to determine if seeds are
- Take ten seeds
from the package and place them on a paper towel that you have
moistened with warm water.
- Fold the paper
towel over to cover the seeds.
- Keep the towel
moist and warm (on top of the fridge usually works for warmth)
until they start to germinate.
- If less than six
seeds (60%) germinate you might as well throw the rest away.
- If six or more
germinate it will be worthwhile to plant the rest.
- Don't waste your
test seeds! The ones that germinate should be carefully moved
to your preferred seedling container and cared for until ready
for transplanting outdoors.
The coat of certain seed is extremely tough and must be
penetrated by special means. Particularly hard seed may be
scarified. Scarification involves breaking, scratching or
softening the seed coat to allow moisture penetration. Two
methods of scarification commonly used by the home gardener are
mechanical and hot water.
scarification involves breaking or weakening the seed coat
with a file, sandpaper or hammer.
- Hot water
scarification involves placing seeds in water that is 170°
After the water cools, seeds should continue to soak for 12 to
are planted. Specific instructions for scarification are usually
mentioned on the seed packet or in the seed catalog.
Regular readers are aware of
K-State's Prairie Star Flower program. Now they've
The Prairie Bloom flower collection. This collection
is different from the Prairie Star flowers in that their bloom
period for perennials is shorter and less intense for annuals.
Though the bloom period is shorter (ten days to two weeks) than
most of our annuals, the spectacular blooms make them more than
worthy of planting in our gardens. Like Prairie Star flowers,
they must prove themselves under Kansas conditions. Selection is
based on a 3 to 5 year performance rating in planting sites
across Kansas. We have more than 90 varieties that made the cut.
All Set For
Onions are one of the earliest crops that can be planted in
the garden - late March in most of eastern and central Kansas.
As they usually require 6 to 8 weeks of growing time before
transplanting they should be started indoors now. Plant onion
seeds fairly close together -
½ to ¾
inches apart in a pot or flat filled
with commercial seed starting mix. (A lot of onion plants can
be grown in a small area.) Place the container in a warm (75º
to 80º F) location until the seedlings
emerge. When the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, move them to
a cooler (60º to 65º
F) location with plenty of natural or artificial light. After
the onion seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, apply a soluble
fertilizer with each or alternate waterings. When they are 4 to
5 inches tall "give them a haircut" by trimming the ends of the
leaves to produce a shorter, stockier plant. In early March,
move the plants to an outdoor, protected location for a few
weeks prior to actual transplanting.
"Preparing a bed for
roses is a little like getting the house ready for the arrival
of a difficult old lady, some biddy with aristocratic
pretensions and persnickety tastes. Her stay is bound to be an
ordeal, and you want to give her as little cause for complaint