This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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May 31, 2006

Sold Fast!
It is hard to believe but two hours after our house went on the market it was sold! A big thanks to our realtor, Christi Clark, who has been a huge help in making this buying and selling a house process pretty easy. I am excited about our home's new owner and truly hope that they will enjoy this house as much as we have. It seems as if we moved in only yesterday when Morgan was just a little girl. Of course the boys were babies when we brought them home so this is the only home they've known. So many fond memories. Ones that will be cherished for years.

It looks as if a storm is brewing. With the heat and humidity being above average for this time of year we seem to be getting some rain every few days. A good thing. It is always nice to have Mother Nature help out with the watering. Her water is the best kind. It seems to make everything grow and look so much better. Let's hope she continues coming through for us especially once summer officially arrives.

~ Shelly  

Erupting Soon In A Garden Near You...
This time of year it's not uncommon to have a period of wet weather followed by some rather warm early summer temperatures.  If you have mulched areas in your garden, that unique combination is going to lead to something that's pretty disgusting to look at - slime mold eruptions.  You see, slime mold spores will grow and expand (at an alarming rate) until they "erupt" over the surface of the mulch.  It's not very pretty to look at but rest assured it's harmless.  Try to scoop it up whole (so you don't inadvertently release more spores) and dispose of it in a compost pile or trash can.  

Timing Is Everything...
Sometimes the hardest part of growing great vegetables is knowing when they're ready for harvest.  Timing is everything as they say and that's certainly true for your garden's bounty.  To make your job a little easier we've compiled a list of common garden vegetables and the guidelines you should follow to determine if they are ready for harvest.  You will find "When to Harvest Vegetables" in the Features section of our website.

Itchy, Scratchy, Savvy...
Poison ivy rash is an unfortunate byproduct of working outdoors for many gardeners.  The rash we get from our exposure to poison ivy (as well as poison oak and sumac) is an allergic reaction to contact with an oil called urushiol (oo-ROO-she-ol).  All species of poison ivy, oak and sumac have urushiol in their roots, stems, leaves and fruit.  The oil or sap is released when plants are bruised.  For this reason poison ivy rashes are more common in the spring and early summer when leaves and stems are tender.  The sap may be deposited on the skin by direct contact with the plant, through contact with contaminated objects such as shoes, clothing, tools and animals, or as airborne urushiol particles from burning plants.  

We're betting that you still cling to at least one of the poison ivy myths below.  Now is a good time to set the record straight: 

  • Myth 1 - Scratching poison ivy blisters spreads the rash. 
    Not true.  Fluid discharged from blisters will not spread the rash.  Well before the blisters form, however, you may spread the urushiol on your hands to other parts of your body. 
  • Myth 2 - Poison ivy is contagious. 
    Not true.  The rash is simply a reaction to urushiol.  The rash cannot pass from person to person; only the urushiol can be spread by direct contact. 
  • Myth 3 - You can "catch" poison ivy by being near it. 
    Not true.  Direct contact or contact with smoke from burning plants is needed to introduce urushiol onto the victim. 
  • Myth 4 - Once allergic, always allergic to poison ivy. 
    Not true.  A person's sensitivity changes over time, even from season to season.  People who were sensitive to urushiol as children may not be allergic as adults. 
  • Myth 5 - There's no need to worry about dead plants.
    Not true.  Urushiol remains active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years! 
  • Myth 6 - Covering up is good protection. 
    Partly
    true.  Urushiol can stick to your clothes which you can touch and spread to your skin later.

Source

 


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Be A Deadheader...
So your perennials have bloomed and they are starting to look as if they are finished?  Hold on a minute...  If you trim off the dead blooms they will likely bloom again!  I'm talking about roses, bachelor buttons, coreopsis and dianthus (just to name a few)Sure, it's extra work (especially dianthus, it's wickedly time-consuming to trim all of those flowers back) but the reward is well worth it once you see them re-blooming.  If you are not sure whether your perennial will bloom again cut it back anyway to keep a neat appearance in the garden.

You should also deadhead petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, marigolds and zinnias.  This will prevent seed formation and promote continued flowering.

Turfgrass Identification Tool...
Not sure what's growing in that lawn of yours?  Our friends at Purdue University have developed a nifty on-line Turfgrass Identification Tool.  With their library of great descriptions and photos (some that rotate 360
) you can now confidently identify that rogue patch of whatever.

Ladybird Beetles...
If you see what looks like very small alligator-shaped insects on your plants, don't be concerned. This is the larval form of the ladybird beetle. The larvae are covered with spines, about 3/8 inch long, and black with orange markings. Neither the adults or larvae will feed on the plants but rather on other insects including aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, scale insects and the eggs of various other insects. Because those "other insects" normally are feeding on the plant, ladybird beetles are considered beneficial.

Source

Heading Off Seedheads...
Cool season turfgrasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are currently producing seedheads - a natural phenomenon triggered by the current day length.  Seedheads are a nuisance for several reasons:

  • They grow quickly and unevenly detracting from the appearance of a lawn. 
  • The seed stalk is tougher than grass blades so they do not cut cleanly except with the sharpest of mower blades.  
  • After mowing, the grass may also appear a lighter green to yellow because of the exposed seed stalks.  
  • Turfgrass plants also expend a lot of energy producing seedheads and turf density may also decrease slightly as a result. 

The most effective way to control seedheads is through frequent mowing with a sharp mower blade.  Avoid the temptation to lower your cutting height as doing so will cause the rest of your turf to suffer as summer approaches.

Source

Finally...
"One of the small delights of gardening, undramatic but recurring, is when phlox or columbines seed themselves in unplanned places."

~ Mirabel Osler

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