This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
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~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
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~ Deer Resistant Plants
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August 30, 2006

Buckets Of It...
We wanted rain and rain we got! What a deluge. Mother Nature gave us several inches within a short amount of time. Where did all of that water go? Unfortunately most of it was run off. We had already received 2-3 inches from Friday and Saturday so the ground was saturated. Kevin and I went venturing out to get some pictures of the high waters that swept through our area. Lots of water...moving fast. You have got to see the photos.

Today was such a beautiful day. I can feel a hint of fall in the air. Cool mornings, mild days, gardening until you are exhausted. That was me today. I was out for three hours. I could not pull myself away. I was having way too much fun. I mowed, edged, trimmed and boy does the lawn look magnificent. Have you noticed how the lawns have greened up since we had a nice rain? It doesn't take long once the temperatures cool down and the humidity drops. Starting today and until the first frost I will try to achieve as much as I can. Transplanting, planting shrubs, trees and bulbs. I have a long list and I hope to get most of it accomplished. My only wish is to have as many days like to today to help me along the way.

~ Shelly  

Tomato Trickery...
Lower temperatures are a sure sign that summer is gradually coming to an end.  Make sure you don't miss out on any tomatoes by employing a couple of tricks to get the most out of your tomato plants.  

  • By removing some of the leaves, more sunlight will be allowed to reach your tomatoes.  The shady protection they provide is not needed as much now that fall is closing in.
  • Lopping the tops off the plants will help ensure that the plants' energy will go into finishing existing fruit production rather than the now hopeless task of producing new fruit.

These tricks (and a little luck) will help keep those tomato plants producing as long as possible.

Salad Serendipity....
There's still time to seed some fall salad crops for this season. With the recent mild weather and rainfall some fall-season vegetables can still be seeded now with a decent chance of developing before freezing weather stops their progress. To increase your odds, try lettuce, radishes, and spinach.  These salad crops grow rapidly and can withstand a light freeze. A hard early freeze could st
op everything in its tracks but it's certainly worth the risk for fresh salad greens. 

The Great Divide...
Savvygardeners who took good care of their perennials this summer might notice them bursting from their beds.  Sound familiar?  If so, they need some relief.  Once they are done blooming for the year it's time to divide them.

You'll know your plants need to be divided if:

  • They are spreading beyond your desired range for them.
  • The flowers are not producing as well as in the past.
  • The center of the clump of flowers is dying.
  • The lower areas of foliage are sickly.

For a quick but effective description of the dividing process you can read "Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials" in our Features section. 


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Packing Up The Peonies...
Peonies aren't particularly fond of being uprooted and transplanted but from time to time it may become necessary.  Maybe their plot has become too shady or another project is displacing them.  Here are a few simple steps to get it done right:

  1. Cut the stems to near ground level this month.
  2. Carefully dig up as much of the root system as possible.
  3. Replant the peony in a hole large enough for the roots.
  4. Make sure the buds are one to two inches below the soil surface.
  5. Toss in some bone meal and firm the soil around the plant.
  6. Water thoroughly.

Keep in mind - transplanted peonies often refuse to bloom the first spring after transplant.  Your patience will be rewarded in subsequent years.

Reinvigorate Wisteria...
Root pruning is practice sometimes used in late fall to restore blooming on older Wisteria plants. It serves to check top growth and favor flower production and must be combined with summer pruning to be effective. Use a spade to cut vertically into the soil (about 18 inches deep) and about four feet from the main trunk, all around the vine.


Weed Whackers...
Dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf weeds that were a problem last spring and all summer should be controlled this fall.  The period from late September to mid-November is the ideal time to control broadleaf weeds in turfgrass because broadleaf weeds are most susceptible to herbicides at this time.  The turf and weeds must be actively growing for this to be effective so be sure your lawn is well-watered before applying.  Apply on a sunny day with moderate temperatures, no wind, ample soil moisture and no rain in the 24-hour forecast.  An herbicide containing two or more active ingredients including 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, triclopyr, or clopyralid will control most broadleaf weeds with one application.  As always, be careful when using broadleaf herbicides as they may damage the stuff you want to keep - like flowers, trees, shrubs, or vegetables.


What Weed Is What...
Speaking of weeds, readers often ask us for good ways to identify the dizzying number of weed types found in yards and gardens. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has one of the best on-line resources we've ever seen.  Search weeds by type, leaf, flower, growth characteristics, and more.  You can check it out for yourself here...

"In my garden I can find solitude. I can go out there and say, "No phones, no interruptions, I am busy," and then shut myself off for a little while."

~ Helen Hayes

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