This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil

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October 4, 2006

Back From Boston...
Having just returned from a trip to Boston this past weekend I am trying to recover from the harsh heat of the past two days. It was certainly Autumn in Boston. Cooler temperatures and a day of drizzly rain. Interestingly enough, we have more fall color here in Kansas City. It was jacket weather nonetheless and it was welcomed. I am not sure that I remember the temperatures being in the high 90's in October. Hasn't the weather just become weird? Hard to guess from one day to the next on when to water and how to dress.

If you have newly planted grass seed, stay on top of it. Make sure you keep it moist while it's germinating. Try to keep the leaves off as well, allowing sunlight to penetrate the seed. It is a lot of hard work but if you keep at it you will be rewarded next spring with a lush lawn.

The Marsh clan's trip to Boston was one filled with history and great fun. We visited the New England Aquarium, the Boston Museum of Science, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, went on a Whale watching excursion and had the opportunity to attend a Red Sox game. We walked the Freedom Trail and learned about Paul Revere, John Hancock and many other Patriots who played a huge role in American history. The boys really enjoyed seeing the city and it was fun listening to them talk about what they had seen and learned. We stayed in a hotel in the Back Bay area which was close to Boston Common - a magnificent park where walking and lazing around are encouraged (photos). The gardens were in transition from summer to fall but still looked great. I hope you enjoy Kevin's photo's as much as I do. He always finds the perfect shot.

~ Shelly  

TLC For Tender Turf...
Thankfully we seem to be past those rogue hot and windy days from earlier this week.  The biggest threat posed by the heat and wind is to new grass.  If you are growing new grass from seed be sure to keep it wet - especially as the new, young blades shoot forth from the soil
.  This is when the grass is most vulnerable.  If it dries out, it dies.  No need to soak it.  Just keep it moist with a couple of sweeps from the hose spray nozzle several times a day.

Storing Summer Bulbs...
It's time to start thinking about storing bulbs that will not survive Kansas City winters. The bulbs of gladiolus, caladium, dahlia, tuberous begonia, calla lily, and canna lily need to be dug and stored so they can be planted next year.

All of these plants should be dug after frost has browned the foliage. Allow them to dry for about a week in a shady, well-ventilated site, such as a garage or tool shed. Remove excess soil and pack them in peat moss, vermiculite or perlite. Make sure the bulbs don't touch, so that if one decays the rot doesn't spread to its neighbors. Dusting them with fungicide before storage will help prevent them from rotting as well.

Caladium should be stored between 50 and 60 F. The rest of the bulbs mentioned should be stored near 40 F.


Squash Harvest & Storage...
Make sure you harvest pumpkins and winter squash before they get hit by frost.  Immediately after harvest, the fruit should undergo a ripening or curing process to harden the shell. A curing period of about two weeks at 75
to 85 F with good circulation is desirable. Storage should then be at 50 to 70 F with humidity between 50 and 70 percent. Also, leaving a couple inches of stem will not only provide a "handle" for jack-o-lanterns but will improve storage.


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Tomato Rescue...
If you are rescuing green tomatoes from a frost and plan to allow them to finish ripening indoors, be sure to select fruits that have changed color from the darker green of immature tomatoes to the lighter color of the mature green stage. If picked before this color break, the tomato will rot instead of ripen. You will be on the safe side if you wait for a hint of red to appear.


Evergreen Pruning...
Light pruning of both needle and broadleaf evergreens is recommended in late fall to encourage a strong framework to help the plant overcome any snow damage. Simply remove any weak or crowded branches with a pair of clean sharp pruners.

Look Who's Sleeping In The Garden Bed...
Many disease-causing viruses overwinter in the roots of perennial weeds.  Tomato mosaic virus overwinters in the roots of ground cherry, horsenettle, jimson weed, nightshade, and bittersweet; cucumber mosaic virus lives in the roots of milkweed, catnip, and pokeweed; bean mosaic overwinters in white sweet clover roots; and many cabbage diseases spread from wild members of the cole family.  A good fall cleanup is essential.  Don't wait!


Time For Lime?
If the results of a soil test suggest that your lawn or garden needs an application of lime now is the time to do it.  Never had a soil test before?  Shame on you!  Resolve to get one done this month.  We've posted easy to follow instructions on the website. 

"Did you ever hear of planting hands?  Well I can only tell you what it feels like. It's when you're picking off the buds you don't want. Everything goes right down into your fingertips. You watch your fingers work. They do it themselves. You can feel how it is. They pick and pick the buds. They never make a mistake. They're with the plant. Do you see? Your fingers and the plant. You can feel that, right up your arm. They know. They never make a mistake. You can feel it. When you're like that you can't do anything wrong. Do you see that? Can you understand that?"

~ John Steinbeck

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