This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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March 8, 2006

My Time of Year...
The arrival of March means spring is only a few short days away. Of course if you were to look outside you might think it has already arrived. Tulips, daffodils and crocus are up (or should I say have been up) and are now blooming. It seems as if everything is early, but Mother Nature has taken matters into her own hands and there is no changing that. March arrived like a lamb bringing warmer temperatures and some much needed rain. I believe the extended forecast shows more rain on the way. What a relief.

Even though our winter was mild I still get excited about what lies ahead in the days to come. Planting, playing, sitting outside drinking up every ounce of sun until it sets. This is my time of year and I am happy it has arrived.

OK, I am sure you have a thousand and one things on your spring to-do list. Raking, gutter cleaning, pansy planting etc. Don't forget Family Tree Nursery's Spring Open House in Overland Park March 17th - 19th. The theme this year is "Gardens for the Five Senses". Take the kids in on Saturday or Sunday so that they can participate in the Young Gardener's Club 10th Birthday Party. Potter Rabbit (the Young Gardener's Club mascot) will be attending. Lots of activities to get the young ones excited about spring. And for us adults, free seminars as well as many industry professionals on hand to answer those tough gardening questions. It is one of my favorite events - you won't want to miss it.

~ Shelly  

"Katrina" Termites In Mulch?
By now it seems everyone has received at least one forwarded e-mail warning that Louisiana's famous Formosan termites
(photo) may find their way to our locales by way of mulch made from hurricane-ravaged trees.  We checked with our friends at K-State Extension and this is what we learned:

  • Even before Katrina, state agriculture officials already had quarantines in place for wood products from areas known to be infested by Formosan termites. Now Louisiana and Mississippi have extended their quarantines to all areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The woody debris from those areas can only be disposed of in special landfills within the quarantine sites.
  • Just in case, consumers can be alert when they buy and spread mulch this year. If they spot termites, a quick treatment of insecticide should stop that little problem right in its tracks.
  • Alternatively, if you open a bag and find it infested with termites you might consider resealing the bag and placing it in a larger black plastic garbage bag and exposing it to the hot sun for several days. Raising mulch temperatures to 120 degrees for an hour or more is generally sufficient to kill all insect life.

Better yet, purchase your mulch from reliable, local suppliers like our friends at Missouri Organic.

Armed And Ready...
As you walk through your gardens take along a hand pruner and cut out the dead branches from your shrubs. The living branches should be recognizable by the appearance of leaf or flower buds.  The dead ones are the "dead-looking" ones with no green visible underneath the brown outer bark layer.

For more assistance check out Pruning Shrubs in our Features section.

Staggered Seed Start...
Getting the timing right on seed starting is pretty important.  Start too early and your plants will get leggy before it's time to put them outside.  Start too late and you miss out on valuable growing time (especially if you want the first tomatoes on the block).  Seeds are cheap, time is unrecoverable.  Instead of starting all of your similar seeds (tomato for instance) at the same time, try starting 1/3 of them each week for three weeks.  If warm weather is early, you'll be ahead.  If cold weather lingers you'll still have seedlings at the appropriate transplant time.

 


"Gardens for the Five Senses"

Family Tree Nursery presents
their 11th Annual Open House
and Spring Flower Show

March 17th -19th in the Green Houses
 at the Overland Park Garden Center
8424 Farley 913-642-6503

Live demonstrations, free seminars and great pre-season sale prices!

The Young Gardener's Club is celebrating it's 10th Birthday. Join Potter Rabbit in activities for the whole family!

 

 

A Day For Potato Heads?
While it's traditional to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day Savvygardeners should be aware of two assumptions made in setting this date.  First, that your soil is consistently 45 or higher.  The recent warm-up means sunny locations may be ready.

The second assumption is that the soil is dry enough to be worked.  Working in overly moist soil can make a mess that will be hard to correct later.  How can you tell?  Grab a handful of soil and squeeze.  If it holds together like clay it's too wet.  If it crumbles like a cupcake it's ready for planting.

Watch the weather and your soil closely.  You really want to get those 'taters planted between now and the end of March.

Time For Tomatoes?
A quick check of our Seed Starting Calendar reveals that it's time to start seeds for those warm-weather vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.  Tomatoes can be found in many, many gardens.  Why not yours?  If you need some help getting started just read Seed Starting Tomatoes in our Features section.

Thyme For Renewal?
If you grow thyme in your garden you may want to rejuvenate your plot this spring.  Thyme, a low-growing, woody perennial herb, should be started from seed every two to three years.  This is because older plants produce coarser, lower grade stems and leaves.  Thyme seeds often germinate poorly when planted directly in the soil, so it's best to start plants indoors now for transplant later.

Now Cut That Out...
So, you think it's too early to cut the grass?  Not the ornamental grass!  In early spring before new growth begins you should remove the previous year's foliage to promote earlier and more healthy growth.  Use hand clippers, a pruning saw, or sharp shears to cut your grasses back to within 3 to 5 inches of the ground.  To minimize the mess try tying the grass into a standing bundle before cutting.

Finally...
"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."

~ Henry David Thoreau

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