This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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April 4, 2007

Opening Day Curveball....
Well, she did it again. Mother Nature threw us a curveball (seemed appropriate considering it is baseball's opening week). 80 one day, 40 the next. There is nothing quite like living in Kansas. The weather can change on a dime. I hope you received our frost alert and covered your tender plants and shrubs. Check out this week's video on protecting plants from frost. You will want to do the same for tulips or anything else that is in bloom and tender. Once again as stated in our frost alert you do not have to use cloth sheets, you can use plastic (as long as it is not touching the plant) large pots, trash bags or anything else you might have lying around. And last but not least, be sure to uncover things in the morning so that they don't get too warm beneath the covering once the sun comes out. I hope these frost alerts are beneficial. We all need a little reminder now and then. It is sometimes hard to remember when the weather turns warm that spring has just begun and it is still too early to plant some things.

Sam Parker (the family dog) and I have been taking longer walks lately. It is hard not to be in love with the outdoors this time of the year. Everything is so colorful. When we are out I am amazed by the brilliance all around. I feel as if I have been placed in an oil painting. The colors chosen so perfectly by the artist. I hope that these next few days will be kind to those plants susceptible to frost. I would hate for anyone to lose anything to ol' Jack Frost. Stay warm, cooler temperatures lie ahead through the weekend.

~ Shelly  

Elbow Room...
It is easy to sow too many seeds in a row of beets or carrots.  Carrot seeds are small and angular making it difficult to scatter seeds without inadvertently dropping several of them together.  Beets emerge from a capsule containing several seeds and often come up too thick.  Do your best not to overseed either of these popular vegetables.  Both of these crops need room for roots to expand and grow.  

Carrots should be spaced about 2 to 3 inches apart, and beets 3 to 4 inches apart.  Once they begin growing you can remove some of the plants in the row to attain these desirable plant spacings.

Source

Dig This, Or Don't...
Here's some advice - "Don't cultivate your garden."  This may sound kind of crazy, but the truth is cultivating and deep hoeing can cause considerable damage to the shallow roots of flowers and vegetables.  Also, every time you cultivate, you stir the soil and bring weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate.  A two-inch layer of mulch will stop annual weeds, otherwise, cut off weeds at the surface of the soil with a sharp scuffle hoe, so in a week or 10 days, you won't have another batch to destroy.  If you do not have a scuffle hoe, pull the weeds by hand.  If you start early in the season and keep them pulled regularly, it is not too big a job in a small to medium-sized garden.

Source

Longer Life for Lilies...
Easter is coming soon and many of you will probably receive a lily or two as gifts.  A common question this time of year is what to do with the lily after the blooms have gone.  Unfortunately the lily doesn't survive as a houseplant, but it can be transplanted outdoors where it may bloom again this year. 

Find a sunny spot in the garden to plant the bulb.  Remove the plant from its container and loosen the roots.  Plant the bulb a few inches deeper than it was in the container and cover it with soil.  Water thoroughly and fertilize with an all-purpose garden fertilizer.  For the remainder of the season water and fertilize as you would your other garden plantings.  Don't be alarmed when the top withers and dies.  New shoots will emerge and may flower in July or August. 

Understand that lilies are not normally winter-hardy in the greater Kansas City area.  To improve your chances for success, mulch them with 4 inches of straw or leaves in the fall.  With luck you will have new flowers again next June!

 


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Tines For Transplanting...
One of the trickiest parts of raising seedlings indoors is the delicate process of transplanting up to a larger peat pot.  All too often the soil surrounding the roots just falls apart.  Try using an ordinary table fork next time.  You can loosen the plants in the seed flat without damaging the roots.  Then you can open a hole for the new transplant in the new flat or pot by rocking it sideways.  Finally, by sliding the tines around the delicate stem and pressing down, the transplant can be firmed in the growing medium.

Befuddled By Bulbs...
Every year about this time we start getting e-mails asking about all the bulbs currently offered by retailers and garden centers.  "Isn't fall the correct time to plant bulbs?" is the common question.  Well, fall is the correct time to plant spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc...)  But there's another group of "bulbs" that can be planted soon for floral displays this summer.  They include begonias, dahlias, daylilies, and so many more!  If you're ready to give them a try take a moment to read our Guide to Summer Flowering Bulbs in Kansas City.

Are You A Good Host?
Sometimes gardening is a lot like hosting a party.  Plants, like party guests, need to be steered toward others that will enjoy their company.  The practice of companion planting, growing vegetables in proximity to helpful plants, has become quite popular over the years.  Here are some of our favorite matchmaker tips:

 

Vegetable Group With Keep Distance From
Tomatoes Carrots, peppers, basil, marigold Mature dill, kohlrabi, potatoes
Beans Carrots, cucumber, pea, potatoes, radish, marigold, nasturtium, rosemary Garlic, onion, shallots, fennel, gladiolus
Peas Radish, carrots, cucumbers, celery, turnip Garlic, onion, gladiolus
Carrots Beans, radish, tomatoes, peppers, onion, sage Dill, celery
Cucumbers Corn, tomatoes, cabbage, radishes, dill, nasturtium Aromatic herbs, potatoes

 

Ready, Set, Mow...
If you haven't started mowing your lawn yet, get ready to.  Start by walking your property and picking up everything that shouldn't be there when mowing - toys, sticks, golf balls, whatever.  Also, make sure your mower blade is sharp.

Don't wait until the entire lawn needs mowing.  This time of year many lawns grow in a patchy manner and there will be spots that are several inches taller than others.

Finally...
"Spring would not be spring without bird songs."

~ Francis M. Chapman

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