This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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March 7, 2007

Storm Lovers...
Remember what a beautiful day we had last Wednesday? If I remember correctly the temperature was around 70. I also remember mentioning a chance of rain. Well... rain we got and so much more. Lightning, thunder, hail and high winds. What a storm. Kevin, the kids and I actually watched the storm move into Kansas City. It was exciting watching the clouds race across the sky. We enjoyed the lightning, the booms of thunder and we're thrilled when the wind picked up. For those of you who are new to Savvygardener.com, the Marsh family loves storms. Preferably ones with lightning, thunder and high winds. Kevin would love to see a tornado. He is a thrill seeker and finds Mother Nature's wrath to be exhilarating! I enjoy storms as well but as a child I experienced a tornado and once is enough for me. When the sirens start to sound you can typically find me in the basement with the kids. Kevin on the other hand might just be on the roof, hoping to spot his first tornado.

The city of Leavenworth's Home and Garden Show is this weekend. The event, "No Place Like Home" starts Saturday, March 10th, from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and runs through Sunday, March 11th from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. It is located at the Leavenworth Riverfront Community Center. Admission is only $5. There will be lectures, giveaways and grand prizes. For more information on the event go to www.leavenworthmainstreet.com  The event is sponsored by the Leavenworth Main Street program, the City of Leavenworth, and the Master Gardeners of Leavenworth. Sounds like a good way to spend some time.

Don't forget to "spring forward" into Daylight Savings Time this weekend. It's a few weeks earlier than usual.

~ Shelly  

Armed And Ready...
As you walk through your gardens take along a hand pruner and cut out the dead branches from your shrubs. The living branches should be recognizable by the appearance of leaf or flower buds.  The dead ones are the "dead-looking" ones with no green visible underneath the brown outer bark layer.

For more assistance check out Pruning Shrubs in our Features section.

Staggered Seed Start...
Getting the timing right on seed starting is pretty important.  Start too early and your plants will get leggy before it's time to put them outside.  Start too late and you miss out on valuable growing time (especially if you want the first tomatoes on the block).  Seeds are cheap, time is unrecoverable.  Instead of starting all of your similar seeds (tomato for instance) at the same time, try starting 1/3 of them each week for three weeks.  If warm weather is early, you'll be ahead.  If cold weather lingers you'll still have seedlings at the appropriate transplant time.

Iris Leaf Spot Control...
Now is a good time to begin control measures for iris leaf spot by removing old, dead leaves. Iris leaf spot is a fungal disease that attacks the leaves and occasionally the flower stalks and buds of iris. Infection is favored by wet periods during the spring, and the emerging leaves eventually show small spots. The borders of these spots are reddish, and surrounding tissue first appears water-soaked, and then yellows. Spots enlarge after flowering and may coalesce. Though the disease will not kill the plant directly, repeated attacks can reduce plant vigor so that the iris may die from other stresses. Spores are passed to nearby plants by wind or splashing water.

Because this disease overwinters in old leaves, removal and destruction of dead leaves will help with control. For plants that had little infection the previous year, this may be all that is needed. Plants that were heavily infected last year should be sprayed with chlorothalonil (Daconil) or myclobutanil (Immunox) starting in the spring when leaves appear. Repeat sprays every seven to 10 days for four to six sprays. Iris leaves are waxy, so be sure to include a spreader-sticker in your spray to insure good coverage.

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Core Aerating...
If you are planning to core-aerate your tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass lawn this spring, reserve a 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 our friends at K-State 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.

Time For Tomatoes?
A quick check of our Seed Starting Calendar reveals that it's time to start seeds for those warm-weather vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.  Tomatoes can be found in many, many gardens.  Why not yours?  If you need some help getting started just read Seed Starting Tomatoes in our Features section.

Thyme For Renewal?
If you grow thyme in your garden you may want to rejuvenate your plot this spring.  Thyme, a low-growing, woody perennial herb, should be started from seed every two to three years.  This is because older plants produce coarser, lower grade stems and leaves.  Thyme seeds often germinate poorly when planted directly in the soil, so it's best to start plants indoors now for transplant later.

Now Cut That Out...
So, you think it's too early to cut the grass?  Not the ornamental grass!  In early spring before new growth begins you should remove the previous year's foliage to promote earlier and more healthy growth.  Use hand clippers, a pruning saw, or sharp shears to cut your grasses back to within 3 to 5 inches of the ground.  To minimize the mess try tying the grass into a standing bundle before cutting.

Finally...
"Scents bring memories, and many memories bring nostalgic pleasure. We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden."

~ Thalassa Cruso

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