June 13, 2007
Just My Style...
One of the neighbors stopped by the house recently to tell me
how much she liked our new landscape. I thanked her and told her
that I was thrilled with the way everything turned out. In
return she asked me, "What was wrong
with the old landscape?" I told her that there was nothing wrong
with the old landscape it just was not what we had envisioned.
She smiled and said, "Well that makes sense." We continued
chatting but after she left I reflected back on our
conversation. The original landscape was fine. It just wasn't
wasn't our style nor did it reflect the way we like to garden.
There was very little space for planting so most of the changes
we made will allow us to incorporate our own style. I like to
think of our gardens as rooms. We want to be out in them,
enjoying our surroundings. To me creating a space of comfort is
one of life's greatest pleasures. Just one more place to retreat
to when things begin to feel too hectic.
Believe it or not
we are going to start a vegetable garden this year.
Those of you who have read the
Savvygardener newsletter for some time
know that this is not our first attempt. We are a tomato loving
family and also enjoy cantaloupe and watermelon. So, we are
going to give those a shot. Now keep in mind that our backyard
is a sort of wild kingdom. There are squirrels by the thousands,
chipmunks and mice. We have hung several bird feeders and are
attracting quite an interesting group of feathered friends. So,
what do you think our odds are on picking a ripe tomato? How
about a cantaloupe or watermelon? Only time will tell...
wish us luck!
When Good Mulch Goes Bad...
There's bound to be a few Savvygardeners
out there that had a pile of mulch delivered before or during the
rains we've had recently. If you didn't get that mulch covered be
careful. Hardwood mulch can become a
real problem if left too long in a damp pile. Not only
does it smell bad once it "sours" it can adversely affect plants
that it comes in contact with. Symptoms look like fertilizer or
pesticide burn or water stress. Damage can be severe enough to
actually kill plants - yikes!
Depending on the extent of the injury, plants are often able to
recover. Savvygardeners should water affected plants during hot,
dry periods to prevent further stress.
has soured can still be used if it is "mellowed" before
application. Simply spread the mulch in shallow layers and allow
it to air out for several days until it no longer smells. It may
also be helpful to water the mulch before application to wash
away any toxic substances.
Is That A Volcano In
Speaking of mulch... When mulching
try to avoid creating "mulch volcanoes" at the base of your
trees. Unfortunately it is quite common to see trees mulched in
this manner - a ring of mulch that gets progressively deeper as
it approaches the trunk. While this is better than no mulch at
all, Chris Starbuck at University of Missouri Extension advises
us that there are some real problems to consider:
- When mulch is placed
more than about 4 inches deep, roots tend to "migrate" up into
the mulch during rainy periods or when the area is irrigated.
Then, when drought conditions occur, the plant may come under
severe stress because many of its roots are growing in a
material with much less water holding capacity than real soil.
- The surfaces of the
mulch volcanoes can become hydrophobic due to fungal activity
and will act as very effective umbrellas, shedding water to the
surrounding turf. This could easily kill a young tree by
depriving it of much needed water.
- Other possible problems
with mulch volcanoes are promotion of fungal canker diseases by
constant moisture around the lower trunk, stress from poor gas
exchange by the cells in the bark and damage from rodents that
may take up residence in the volcano.
A common disease of roses is blackspot, a fungal disease that can
cause defoliation of susceptible plants. Look for dark, circular
lesions with feathery edges on the top surface of the leaves and
raised purple spots on young canes. Infected leaves will often
yellow between spots and eventually drop. The infection usually
starts on the lower leaves and works its way up the plant.
Blackspot is most severe under conditions of high relative
humidity (> 85%), warm temperatures (75 to 85 degrees F) and six
or more hours of leaf wetness. Newly expanding leaves are most
vulnerable to infection. The fungus can survive on fallen leaves
or canes and is disseminated primarily by splashing water.
Cultural practices are
the first line of defense.
susceptible roses unless you are willing to use fungicide
Follow this link for a list
of blackspot resistant varieties.
water off the foliage. Drip irrigation works best with
Plant roses in
sunny areas with good air movement to limit the amount of
time the foliage is wet.
leaves that have fallen and prune out infected rose canes to
If needed, protect foliage with a regular spray program of
effective fungicides. Recommended fungicides include
tebuconazole (Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and
Shrubs), myclobutanil (Immunox), triforine (Funginex),
thiophanate methyl (Fertilome Halt) and chlorothalonil (Broad
Spectrum Fungicide, Garden Disease Control.
One of our least favorite parts of summer
is the arrival (or re-emergence) of mosquitoes. This year is no
Eliminating sources of standing water is the most effective way
of keeping mosquito populations in check but it is sometimes
impractical for gardeners. Here are some good tips for
dealing with standing water that can't be removed.
- Drain or empty the water
in dog bowls, wading pools and
birdbaths at least once-a-week.
This will ensure egg-stage mosquitoes never have time to
- Irrigate lawns and gardens
carefully. Where soils have high clay content, for example,
irrigating slowly or irrigating several times lightly will
allow the clay to absorb the water, rather than causing
puddles and runoff.
- Stock ornamental ponds with
mosquito larvae-eating fish, such as goldfish.
- Remove in-water plants from the
edges of garden ponds to allow fish access to the larvae living
and developing there.
- Using a retail product to control
mosquito larvae will be more effective and less costly than
trying to control the flying adults.
Fruit Dropping, Branch Propping...
Don't be alarmed if tree fruit is dropping this time of year.
It's just Mother nature's natural thinning process designed to
prevent excessive loads. Just in case the branch loads remain
too heavy you should thin remaining fruit by hand or prop up
heavy branches to avoid breakage. Most fruit should be spaced 6
to 8 inches apart on a branch.
should be growing rapidly and enlarging
about now. Onions have a
pretty shallow root system and need
regular watering and fertilizing to keep growing.
A light application of fertilizer or
compost along the row will keep them
growing vigorously. Don't be alarmed if you
see a fair amount of the onion developing above the soil line.
This is normal. When tops begin to get weak and fall
over, onion bulbs are about full grown. At
this point, you can break over tops to encourage the necks to
dry. After a few days dig
them up to keep bulbs from
onions to dry with the tops attached for 1 to 2 weeks before
cutting the tops, wiping
(not washing) any excess soil from the
bulbs, and placing them in a cool, dry
location for storage (or eating).
A Cut Above...
The next few months will likely be very taxing for your
fescue or bluegrass lawn. Long, hot and humid days, with little
rainfall can make even the greenest lawns wilt. While it's
probably not possible to keep your turf looking perfectly lush
and green all summer you can prepare it for the heat by raising
the cutting height of your mower. Fescues and bluegrass should
be cut at a height of 3 to 3Ĺ inches. Determine your
mowing frequency by cutting no more than one-third of the blade
height with each cutting. This means cutting when it reaches 4Ĺ
inches or so.
"In my garden there
is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my
garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as
the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful."
Abram Linwood Urban