This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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May 9, 2007

 

Rained Out...
I have had it! I would like the rain to go away for at least two consecutive days. Am I sounding unreasonable? How is a gardener supposed to get anything done? I know you are all feeling the same pain and I am pretty sure that in mid-July when it is as hot as can be and we haven't had rain for weeks we will be begging for it. But for now, I need the sun. I need to be outside because that is where I belong. Outside defines who I am and I can no longer stand underneath an umbrella. Wow - I am glad to have that off my chest!

The good news, this weekend is supposed to be dry. If you haven't purchased your Mother's Day gift yet don't forget about our local nurseries and garden centers. They have great gifts that any mom would love. Garden decor, tools, a sharp set of pruners (I could go on and on). Don't forget that plants make great gifts too. A tree, a rose bush or a flat of annuals that you can plant for her or that the family can plant together. That is what we do here at the Marsh house on Mother's Day, we spend it outside in the gardens, like it or not.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Savvy Moms!

~ Shelly  

Prevent Black Spot...
With all this wet weather you will need to establish a preventive spray program for your roses if they have been subject to black spot in the past. The problem with fungal diseases is that they have to be prevented - a fungicide isn't as effective once the problem is noticed. As always, it is better to buy only roses that are disease resistant.

It's Not Too Late!
Do you feel like spring is slipping away from you?  Just a few weeks ago it seemed like we had all the time in the world to plant.  If you're like us, hectic schedules can make prime planting time slip away.  Don't panic!  There's still plenty to do.  In fact if you hurry you can still sneak in the following: lettuce, onions, spinach, beets, chard, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, shallots, chives and parsley.

Bonus!  Now that soil temperatures are up it's also a great time to get your tomatoes and peppers in the ground if you haven't already done so.

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Tastier Tomatoes...
When selecting tomato transplants, choose healthy plants without any blooms. If the tomato plants have blooms or, worse, fruit before you transplant, pinch off the flowers or fruit. If tomatoes set fruit before the plant gets large enough - that is, produces enough leaves - the fruit is small and tasteless. Removing flowers or premature fruit allows the plant to produce more leaves that will make larger tomatoes throughout the growing season. The formula for successful tomato production is quite simple: Healthy leaves equal tasty fruit.

Source

A Fungus Among Us...
Don't be surprised if you head outside and find a yard full of mushrooms.  Where do these things come from?   Although wild mushrooms tend to make their appearance just about any time in woodlands they're more likely to appear in lawns following several days of wet weather which have been preceded by weeks of dry weather.  We've got plenty in our yard
(photos).

Mushrooms are specialized types of fungi that are important as decay microorganisms, aiding in the breakdown of logs, leaves, fallen branches, and other organic debris.  This important role of mushrooms results in recycling of essential nutrients.  In the vast majority of cases mushrooms are not parasitic on lawn grass and won't cause any disease problems.  Just wait for a prolonged change in the weather and they will wither and disappear providing additional organic matter to your soil.

Tip Top Tools...
Here's a great way to keep your gardening hand tools clean and free from rust.  Fill a 5-gallon bucket with play sand.  Moisten the sand with mineral oil or even motor oil.  Plunging your tools into the sand/oil mix several times before storing them will remove the dirt and leave a protective coating of oil on the metal surface.

Take A Powder...
A white powdery film on your lawn is likely an outbreak of powdery mildew (photo). This fungal disease is favored by cool spring or fall weather, and is common in shaded areas. Kentucky bluegrass in shady areas is especially susceptible.  High nitrogen levels also favor disease development.  Fortunately, while it is not very attractive, powdery mildew rarely causes significant damage to turf.

The Right Height...
To prevent weed germination in lawns, mow frequently at the tallest recommended mowing height. Weeds germinate rapidly when turf is scalped by mowing too short or when it is not mowed frequently enough. Both mistakes decrease turf density and cause an open canopy that favors weeds. Experts recommend a range of mowing heights to meet specific turf activities. Lower mowing heights require more frequent mowing. Annual grassy weeds -- such as crabgrass -- are especially a problem on turfs that lack density as a result of poor mowing.

Recommended mowing heights for grass types:

  • Kentucky bluegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Tall fescue - 3.0 to 4.0 inches.
  • Fescue/bluegrass - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.
  • Bluegrass/ryegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Perennial ryegrasses - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Creeping red fescues - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.

Source

Finally...
"Horticulturally, the month of May is opening night, Homecoming, and Graduation Day all rolled into one."

~ Tam Mossman

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