This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil

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~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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This Week's Photos













March 14, 2007

Roll Camera!
The last three days have been magnificent and I have spent every one of them keeping my hands busy. Raking (why is it that I am always raking?), watering and planting. Yes, planting. I bought some bowls of tulips (just starting to poke up through the potting mix) yesterday and transplanted them today
(video) (photos). Now this might sound kind of crazy but I have never thought of transplanting bulbs into the ground or into other pots. So when I saw those bowls and knew that I had not planted a single bulb last fall I snatched them up and decided to try a little experiment. Now, since the bulbs have been started in a greenhouse it will be interesting to see how they do once transplanted. I am hoping it works. What a great way to get some spring color for those of us who were too busy last fall to plant. I'll keep you posted on how they progress.

It is always so much fun trying something new. Kevin and I have decided to start adding little video segments to the site. This week is me transplanting the bulbs mentioned above. As the weeks go by we'll keep you updated with what we are doing in our own gardens. I will be covering topics like soil amendments, how to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The best place for planting them and so many other fun things. So now you have the opportunity to actually watch me create my own gardens. I hope you enjoy it. Please give us feedback. We love to hear from our readers.

~ Shelly  

Spring Lawns: To Seed or Not to Seed...
As spring approaches you will no doubt start inspecting your lawn only to re-discover that it is less than perfect.  Most of us have bare spots or entire areas that are begging for new seed. Reliable sources will tell you that spring is the second best time of year to plant grass seed (the best time being fall).  What they don't tell you is that in this case second best may not be good enough at all.  We'll try to explain...

Fall is the best time to plant because seeds get the double benefit of warm soil and cooler air temperatures.  Fall planted grass also establishes a strong root system even after the grass blades have stopped growing for the season.  By contrast spring sown grass seed gets cool air temperatures but not warm soil - making it tougher to germinate.  In many cases the grass is not established well enough to take the heat imposed on it by the typical Kansas City summer.  More often than not, your new grass is toast by mid-July.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't plant new grass in the spring.  You just need to be aware of the risks.  At our house we try to limit spring grass seeding to small bare patches and hope for the best.  For bigger jobs consider contacting a professional lawn care company (we use Ryan Lawn & Tree) to improve your chances.

Special Delivery...
Most catalogs don't deliver your plant orders until it's time to plant them.  Unfortunately sometimes local conditions are different than "usual" and your plants arrive a bit early for planting.  Don't panic, but don't ignore them either!  Your mail-order plants do need some care in the time between their arrival and your ability to plant them.  Unwrap them immediately and check for specific directions on early care.  Lacking this just keep them cool and moist in a protected area until you can safely get them in the ground.

Plant By The Rules...
Planning on planting a tree (or two or three) this spring?  Make sure you do it right.  That tree is supposed to be around for a long time.  Our friends at K-State Research & Extension recently published 10 Rules for Planting Trees.  Check it out here...


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St. Pat's and Potatoes...
While it's traditional to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day Savvygardeners should be aware of two assumptions made in setting this date.  First, that your soil is consistently 45º or higher.  The recent warm-up means sunny locations may be ready.

The second assumption is that the soil is dry enough to be worked.  Working in overly moist soil can make a mess that will be hard to correct later.  How can you tell?  Grab a handful of soil and squeeze.  If it holds together like clay it's too wet.  If it crumbles like a cupcake it's ready for planting.

Watch the weather and your soil closely.  You really want to get those 'taters planted between now and the end of March.

The Old Heave Ho...
With higher temperatures come thawed soils.  Good news, but also cause for some attention to the landscape.  Scout around your garden for signs of recent heaving -  the forcing of shallow-rooted plants out of the soil due to the freezing and thawing of the ground.  Don't tamp the plants or the surrounding soil as this may overly compact the soil.  Simply give them a gentle push back into place.

Vegetable Gardening Without A Garden...
If your outdoor space is limited, consider gardening without a garden. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and many other vegetables do well when grown in containers. Barrels, window boxes, cut-off milk jugs, almost any container that provides good drainage will do as long as it is deep enough to support the plant. Minimum depths for some container-grown vegetables:

  • 4 inches - lettuce, radishes, beets, low-growing herbs
  • 6 inches - chard, turnips, short-rooted carrots
  • 8 inches - eggplant, peppers, bush cucumbers
  • 10 inches - cauliflower, broccoli
  • 12 inches - tomatoes, long-rooted carrots


Healthy Lawn Diet...
Though advertising for lawn fertilizers is at its yearly high, most lawns don’t really need fertilizer now.  Do not apply high rates of nitrogen (more than 0.75 lbs N/1000 sq. ft.) to your lawn from March through early May.  Too much nitrogen at this time of the year will lead to problems later this summer such as poor root growth and disease.  Additionally, since spring rains play havoc with mowing schedules, nitrogen fertilization can further complicate your mowing schedule by causing grass plants to grow too fast.  Instead of applying fertilizer now, it is better to wait until mid-to late-May and apply up to ¾ lbs N/1000 sq. ft. with a fertilizer that contains mostly slow-release nitrogen.

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon the inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my hear with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

~ William Wordsworth

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