There is certainly a feel of fall in the air. Yesterday's low
was a brisk 48˚.
you think I am sounding a bit fickle, you are right. I dislike
the extreme heat and dislike the extreme cold even more. I know
is not that cold, my mind and body are just trying to adjust. 48˚
is a far cry from the 80's we saw on Saturday. I am still
holding out for an Indian Summer,
cooler mornings in the 50's and warmer afternoons in the 70's.
You know, perfect fall gardening weather.
new house seems to be a location for
animal breeding. When we first moved
in we found a mother duck and eggs. We got to see the eggs hatch
and watch the mother and baby ducklings move on to another home
(probably one without a beagle). We then
discovered baby bunnies in the front yard and now we have
a baby squirrel hanging around the patio
I have yet to see the mother but I am sure she is around. It
seems to be friendly although I have cautioned the kids on
trying to get too close. I have never been a lover of squirrels
so I hope their stay is temporary. The two hummingbirds who
entertained us for a couple of weeks have flown away so now we
are on the lookout for the next family of creatures to take up
residence. As long as these creatures behave themselves and
don't mess with any of my gardens they are welcome to stay.
Sounds like a tall order for rabbits and squirrels.
Totally Tulips (Part
If you enjoy the thought of continuously blooming tulips in
your spring garden you will need to round out the early and
middle bloomers (discussed in the previous two issues) with some
of these later blooming varieties:
Single Late Tulips incorporate the former Darwin, cottage,
and breeder tulips. Along with the Darwin hybrid tulips, they
are some of the tallest tulips. Flowers are borne on stems up
to 30 inches tall and available in a wide range of colors.
Double Late Tulips are often referred to as peony-flowered
tulips. The many-petaled flowers are borne on 12 to 20 inch
stems. Plant double late tulips in protected locations as the
large flowers can be damaged by rain and strong winds.
Viridiflora Tulips produce long-lasting flowers which have
prominent green markings on their petals. The unusual flower
characteristics make it a novelty item in the garden.
Lily-flowering Tulips have long pointed petals which arch
outward, the flowers somewhat resembling a lily. Flower colors
include white, pink, red, yellow, and purple. Several varieties
have petals edged or feathered in contrasting colors. Plants
grow to a height of 20 to 30 inches.
Fringed Tulips have flowers with elegant fringed petals.
Many varieties are mutants of single late tulips. Also known
as "crispa tulips."
Rembrandt Tulips produce striped or "broken" blooms. The
white, yellow, or red petals are striped with red, bronze, or
purple. These types were bought for huge sums during the
"tulip mania" in Holland in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. The unusual markings were actually caused by a
virus. Due to the virus, the original Rembrandt tulips are no
longer sold. However, there are several modern, virus-free
Rembrandt tulips available.
Multi-flowering Tulips produce 3 to 7 blooms per stem. The
main stem of multi-flowering tulips branches into secondary
stems. Each secondary stem produces a flower. The flower on
the main stem is slightly larger than those on the secondary
stems. Many of the multi-flowering cultivars belong to the
single late tulip class. These tulips are 14- to 20-inch-tall
plants which bloom late in the season. Several varieties are
multi-flowering Greigii tulips which are 8 to 12 inches tall
and early blooming.
Fall is the preferred time to plant many trees and shrubs.
Warm soil, moderate air temperatures and autumn rains all help a
tree adjust to its new environment and set down roots with a
minimum of stress and shock. If you are transplanting
deciduous trees and shrubs, wait until their leaves have
dropped or at least changed color. Evergreens and conifers,
however, benefit from early planting in fall. In either case
watering (1 inch weekly until the ground is frozen) and mulching
the root zone are crucial to success.
Make Green Tomatoes See Red...
All this cool weather means
green tomatoes are not likely to ripen on the vine. And
what's worse, if a rogue frost comes our way
it's game over. Here are two approaches to getting those
green tomatoes to ripen out of harm's
the whole plant, roots and all, and hang it upside-down in a
cool, dark area indoors or in a garage. At temperatures in the
60's those tomatoes should ripen nicely. Just pull them off
the vine as they are individually ready.
- If the
above method is a bit messy for you try picking the green
tomatoes and individually wrapping them in newspaper. Place
them in a paper bag or cardboard box and store in a cool, dark
place. Keep an eye on them periodically. When they start to
redden up unwrap them and let them finish ripening at room
temperature. Hint - If you're in a hurry place an apple in
the bag with the wrapped tomatoes.
tomatoes won't be far away!
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Christmas is still several months away but if you are planning on
displaying home-grown poinsettias it's time to start planning.
Poinsettias are short-day plants and must be tricked into
blooming for Christmas. Follow these steps:
- Find a
dark, cool (around 55 degrees) place where the plant will be
kept at "night". It must be absolutely dark as even short
exposure to a light bulb will throw the process out of kilter.
the poinsettia in this dark place at 5 Pm and leave it there
until 8 AM the following day.
8 AM and 5 PM place it in a sunny window where temperatures
will remain near 70 degrees.
- Do this
for 11 weeks, watering and fertilizing as usual.
and patience you should have healthy, blooming poinsettias for
Beyond Soil Tests...
Though soil tests are useful for
identifying nutrient deficiencies as well as soil pH, they do not
tell the whole story. In addition to issues related to water and
sunshine here are some factors that can affect plant growth that
are not due to nutrient deficiencies or pH.
Too much phosphorus: While most Kansas City area soils
are naturally low in phosphorus, soils that have been
fertilized for a number of years may have phosphorus levels
that are quite high. Too much phosphorus can interfere with the
uptake of some micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc.
High phosphorus soils should only be fertilized with
fertilizers that have relatively low amounts of phosphorus.
Poor soil physical characteristics: Roots need oxygen as
much as they need water. A tight clay soil can restrict soil
oxygen levels as well as make root penetration of the soil
difficult. Increasing the organic matter content of clay soils
can help break them up. Add a 2-inch layer of organic matter
and till it in.
Walnut trees: Walnuts give off a natural herbicide that
interferes with the growth of some plants such as tomatoes.
Vegetable gardens should be at least 50 feet away from walnut
trees if possible.
Tree roots: Trees not only compete with other plants for
sun but also for water and nutrients. Extra water and nutrients
may be needed.
Shallow soils: When new homes are built, the topsoil is
often stripped off before the soils are brought to grade.
Though the topsoil should be replaced, it sometimes is not or
is not replaced to the same depth as it was originally. You are
left with a subsoil that usually does not allow plants to grow
well due to a lack of soil structure. Adding topsoil to a depth
of 8 to 12 inches would be best but this often is not
practical. In such cases, try to rebuild structure by adding
organic matter and working it into the soil.
It's not unusual for Savvygardeners to
noticeable needle drop on some of their
pines. This is a process where 2 to 4-year-old
interior needles turn yellow, then brown, and eventually drop
off. Don't be alarmed! This is a
natural phenomenon that occurs every year and does not hurt the
tree. However, some years it is much more noticeable than others.
Still worried? Be sure to check that
only the older needles are affected (the
needles on the tips of the branches should look fine)
and that there is no spotting or banding on the needles
that are turning yellow.
If you planted grass seed and have new
grass coming in here are a couple of good reminders for you:
Keep it cut to about
Just be careful that mower wheels don't tear
the grass from the soil.
Don't apply any
herbicides or insecticides until the new grass has been mowed
"No two gardens are
the same. No two days are the same in one garden."