This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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March 15, 2006

Changes In Latitude...
We have just arrived home after spending a few days in the Florida Keys
(photos). A nice little getaway for everyone in the family. I have to say that it is absolutely beautiful there. We spent most of our time on Duck Key which is located halfway through the long line of keys. We traveled one day to Key West and spent time walking around and taking in the sites. We managed to tour Ernest Hemingway's home and gardens. I asked one of the ground employees if he was a gardener and he just laughed and said that Hemingway didn't do anything in the gardens and that they were his wife's passion. He then remarked that even his wife was not a gardener and hired all of the gardening out. Of course I was disappointed. I think that everyone should enjoy working in their own gardens as much as I do. At any rate we had a terrific time and we were excited by how everything had sort of greened-up while we were gone.

Don't forget about Family Tree Nursery's Spring Open House this weekend. It starts this Friday and runs through Sunday. Saturday and Sunday are special days for the kids. There will be a lot of exciting things for them to do. Face painting, petting zoo, arts and crafts and other things to keep them busy while you shop. Lots of great specials on plants along with seminars given by experts in the industry. A must attend!

~ Shelly  

Spring Lawns: To Seed or Not to Seed...
As spring approaches you will no doubt start inspecting your lawn only to re-discover that it is less than perfect.  Most of us have bare spots or entire areas that are begging for new seed. Reliable sources will tell you that spring is the second best time of year to plant grass seed (the best time being fall).  What they don't tell you is that in this case second best may not be good enough at all.  We'll try to explain...

Fall is the best time to plant because seeds get the double benefit of warm soil and cooler air temperatures.  Fall planted grass also establishes a strong root system even after the grass blades have stopped growing for the season.  By contrast spring sown grass seed gets cool air temperatures but not warm soil - making it tougher to germinate.  In many cases the grass is not established well enough to take the heat imposed on it by the typical Kansas City summer.  More often than not, your new grass is toast by mid-July.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't plant new grass in the spring.  You just need to be aware of the risks.  At our house we try to limit spring grass seeding to small bare patches and hope for the best.  For bigger jobs consider contacting a professional lawn care company (we use Ryan Lawn & Tree) to improve your chances.

Special Delivery...
Most catalogs don't deliver your plant orders until it's time to plant them.  Unfortunately sometimes local conditions are different than "usual" and your plants arrive a bit early for planting.  Don't panic, but don't ignore them either!  Your mail-order plants do need some care in the time between their arrival and your ability to plant them.  Unwrap them immediately and check for specific directions on early care.  Lacking this just keep them cool and moist in a protected area until you can safely get them in the ground.

Plant By The Rules...
Planning on planting a tree (or two or three) this spring?  Make sure you do it right.  That tree is supposed to be around for a long time.  Our friends at K-State Research & Extension recently published 10 Rules for Planting Trees.  Check it out here...

 


"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!

 

 

The Old Heave Ho...
Temperatures have been jumping around a bit lately but a well deserved thaw in the soil may be a permanent thing soon.  Scout around your garden for signs of recent heaving -  the forcing of shallow-rooted plants out of the soil due to the freezing and thawing of the ground.  Don't tamp the plants or the surrounding soil as this may overly compact the soil.  Simply give them a gentle push back into place.

Vegetable Gardening Without A Garden...
If your outdoor space is limited, consider gardening without a garden. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and many other vegetables do well when grown in containers. Barrels, window boxes, cut-off milk jugs, almost any container that provides good drainage will do as long as it is deep enough to support the plant. Minimum depths for some container-grown vegetables:

  • 4 inches - lettuce, radishes, beets, low-growing herbs
  • 6 inches - chard, turnips, short-rooted carrots
  • 8 inches - eggplant, peppers, bush cucumbers
  • 10 inches - cauliflower, broccoli
  • 12 inches - tomatoes, long-rooted carrots

Source

Core Aeration...
If you are planning to core-aerate this spring, reserve your machine now so you can get the job done in March or early-April. Coring early in the spring gives cool-season lawns a chance to recover before crabgrass and other warm-season annual weeds start to germinate.

According to K-State Research & Extension, core-aerating is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. It relieves compaction, hastens thatch decomposition, increases water infiltration and helps promote better root growth. Pay attention to the soil moisture level when coring. The soil should easily crumble when worked between the fingers. If it is too wet, the machine's tines will plug and it will merely punch holes in the wet soil, which increases compaction. If it is too dry, the tines will not be able to penetrate very deeply.

Source

Healthy Diet...
Though advertising for lawn fertilizers is at its yearly high, most lawns donít really need fertilizer now.  Do not apply high rates of nitrogen (more than 0.75 lbs N/1000 sq. ft.) to your lawn from March through early May.  Too much nitrogen at this time of the year will lead to problems later this summer such as poor root growth and disease.  Additionally, since spring rains play havoc with mowing schedules, nitrogen fertilization can further complicate your mowing schedule by causing grass plants to grow too fast.  Instead of applying fertilizer now, it is better to wait until mid-to late-May and apply up to ĺ lbs N/1000 sq. ft. with a fertilizer that contains mostly slow-release nitrogen.

Finally...
"Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in and around your lettuce and green beans."

~ Marcelene Cox

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