This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil

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March 1, 2006

March Madness...
I have a great story to share with you. I was in Family Tree Nursery the other day, buying a new hose, when a couple walked in looking for perennials - to plant. I snickered to myself and listened as the professionals at Family Tree Nursery explained that is was still a bit early to be planting most things. As tempting as it might be, remember it is just March 1st which means we officially have 19 more days before the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring).

If you are interested in planting something outside consider pansies. They love the cold weather (which we are bound to have more of) and they will continue to produce beautiful color way into May. You can't go wrong.

There is a slight chance of rain for the weekend. Slight, like 20% chance, so if you did not follow my directions from last week's newsletter get out and water. It has been ages (OK maybe I am exaggerating) since we have seen any significant amounts of rain. In the winter we need up to 1 inch a month so just keep that in mind.

My friends from Ryan Lawn & Tree were by this week to fertilize and apply preemergent to keep the crabgrass at bay. If you are not into keeping up with a fertilizing schedule or just don't feel like caring for your lawn as it needs to be cared for then Ryan Lawn & Tree are the people you need to call. They have been taking care of our lawn for the last 6 years and do and excellent job. Highly qualified individuals who will keep you informed as to what your grass needs to survive in this crazy Midwest weather.

~ Shelly  

Feeding Bulb Upstarts...
If you have spring bulbs in the ground we'll bet that at least some of them are poking up through the soil by now.  Last week we talked about moving any leaves or compost out of the way to make room for their growth.  This week we tackle their care and feeding.

"You need to fertilize as soon as the foliage pokes up through the ground. That's when the bulbs' roots are most active," said Ward Upham, horticulturist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. "If you wait until or after they're flowering, you're basically wasting time and money."

Blood meal is the traditional choice and still an excellent fertilizer for spring-flowering bulbs, Upham said. Its application rate is 2 pounds per 100 square feet or 1 teaspoon per square foot.

Springtime Splitters...
Now would be a great time to think about dividing select perennials.  We say this in the fall also.  Don't be confused.  Just use the following logic:  Divide fall-blooming plants in the spring and spring-blooming plants in the fall.  Plants to divide now include asters, mums, shasta daisy, and yarrow (to name a few).

When You Just Can't Wait...
If you are just dying to do something in the flower garden try sowing the seeds of asters, bachelor buttons, calendulas, delphinium, dianthus, larkspur, and snapdragon.  These hardy annuals should weather the remaining cold days and get your flower garden off to an early start.  As insurance against really cold weather you can always sow smaller quantities at weekly intervals.


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Peas Be With You...
Peas should be among the earliest crops you plant in your garden, and can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked. They love cool weather, grow quickly, produce abundantly for a few weeks, and then succumb rapidly to our summer heat. More pea stuff:

  • Some varieties, especially snap peas, require trellising, but many modern varieties do not. Seed catalogs or packets usually will indicate whether this is required.
  • Because plants don't stand very well on their own, peas may benefit from being planted in double rows 6" apart that will allow plants to support each other.
  • Peas should be planted 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart with about 2 to 3 feet between the double row. If trellised, space rows 4 to 6 feet apart.
  • Plant several varieties to make sure you get each type, and to enjoy a succession of harvests.


Crown Jewels...
Once the soil is suitable for digging you may be thinking about planting some asparagus crowns.  Don't dig too far down when planting them.  Yields improve dramatically when crowns are set at a depth of 5 to 6 inches - not the commonly advised 12 inches.  Contrary to the standard practices of deep planting and not harvesting for up to three seasons, recent studies show that harvesting shallow-planted asparagus after the first year boosts yields 40 percent over three years.

Warm Season Weeds...
Warm-season grasses (bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and buffalograss) need a different set of instructions than those for more common cool-season grasses (bluegrass and fescues).  If you have warm-season grasses you can use the month of March to spot-treat broadleaf weeds. Make sure to spot-treat on a day that is 50
˚ F or warmer. Rain or watering within 24 hours of application will reduce the effectiveness of your efforts.

Head 'Em Off At The Pass...
Though cultural practices are the most effective crabgrass controls, herbicides are often necessary to really get the job done.  Crabgrass can be controlled through an application of a pre-emergence herbicide between mid-March and mid-April.  The herbicides available on the market have been shown to be very effective crabgrass controls, but often control suffers when the product is not applied correctly or when the lawn is not maintained properly.  When using pre-emergence herbicides, keep in mind:

  • Maintain a healthy dense lawn.
  • Closely read and follow all label recommendations.
  • Apply the herbicide accurately and uniformly over the lawn.
  • Apply the herbicide early because they will not affect crabgrass already germinated. Early would be mid- March in the greater Kansas City area.
  • After application, apply enough water to move the herbicide off the leaf blades to the soil surface for maximum control.
  • Do not apply these products over newly-seeded areas or try to seed into areas where these products have been recently applied.


"Exclusiveness in a garden is a mistake as great as it is in society."

~ Alfred Austin

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