This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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September 5, 2007

 

Chicago Escape....
I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. The Marsh clan spent some time in Chicago. Took in a Cubs game, played at Navy Pier, walked the Magnificent Mile (interesting garden photos) and enjoyed being outdoors. It was our first trip to Wrigley Field. What a blast! I kept wanting to go out and touch the ivy on the outfield wall. It is always about plants. My kids think I am crazy. I guess my job as a parent has been accomplished :-) The weather was great for taking in all of Chicago's beautiful sites. We actually took an architectural cruise on the river which was enjoyed by all. The temperatures were in the high 80's with a nice breeze off of Lake Michigan. Our hotel was close to Millennium Park and the sculptures were surrounded by beautiful gardens. I must admit most of the flowers in bloom looked great. Chicago had received several inches of rain the previous weekend giving most living things a much needed drink. It was nice to get away and walk around a city surrounded by beauty.

It looks as if our seven-day forecast is heading in the right direction. A chance of rain, less humidity and cooler temperatures. Ahh...my kind of weather. Now that the temperatures are falling get out and get some things done. If your gardens look anything like mine (sad) then there is no other place for us to be. Back to work, or as I like to think of it "have fun"!

~ Shelly  

Totally Tulips (Part I)...
While there are quite a few weeks before you have to plant them, tulips should be purchased soon.  Wait too long and the interesting ones will be gone from the store shelves!  To help you out we publish this four-part series each year at this time.

One of the best ways to keep your spring garden blooming is by planting bulbs that bloom at different times.  The possibilities are endless.  In fact you can plant only tulips if you like and still have staged blooms.  This week we focus on some of the earlier blooming tulips.  Look for these in your favorite catalogs and at local retailers:

  • Single Early Tulips are among the earliest tulips to bloom.  The flowers, available in a wide range of colors, are produced on strong, 10 to 18-inch-long stems.  The flowers of several varieties have a sweet fragrance.  Single early tulips are excellent for rock gardens, beds, and forcing.
  • Double Early Tulips produce semi-double to double, peony-like flowers.  The flowers, measuring up to 4 inches in diameter, are borne on strong, short stems.  The color range of double early tulips is smaller than for most other tulip classes.
  • Greigii Tulips are noted for their brightly-colored flowers and purple striped or mottled foliage.  Plant height varies from 8 to 12 inches.  Because of their short stature, Greigii tulips are excellent choices for borders or rock gardens.
  • Kaufmanniana Tulips are long-lived perennial tulips.  In sunlight, the flowers open fully.  The open flowers resemble a star or water lily.  Flower colors include white, yellow, pink, and intermediary colors.  The foliage is bluish green or chocolate brown striped.  Kaufmanniana tulips are small plants with an average height of 4 to 8 inches.  Their compact size makes them good choices for border edges and rock gardens.
  • Fosteriana Tulips produce some of the largest flowers of the genus.  They also perennialize well.  'Red Emperor' is a widely grown variety in this class.  Fosteriana tulips are sometimes referred to as emperor tulips.
  • Species Tulips include wild species, horticultural varieties, and hybrids.  Most are early blooming, short-statured plants.  Species tulips are available in a wide array of colors.  They perennialize well and are excellent plants for rock and heirloom gardens.

Next week, the "middle" bloomers...

Source

Household Hazardous Waste...
Fall clean-up of your garage or other work areas may turn up containers of old pesticides, herbicides, and other lawn and garden chemicals.  These items are considered household hazardous wastes and should not be thrown in the trash.  Instead, Savvygardeners should dispose of them safely through their local government.  For more information simply click on the appropriate local government link below:

The Sunflower Shake...
You don't have to be a Kansas Savvygardener to appreciate the beauty of sunflowers.  For those of you who want to harvest your sunflower seeds and don't know when they're ready just look for these tell-tale signs:

  • The flower's head is droopy and faces the ground.
  • Most of the petals have fallen off.
  • The birds are starting to enjoy the seeds.

Gently shake the head of the flower and the seeds will fall off.  Store them in a nice dry place for planting next spring!

When To Pick Apples...
Just because apples are falling from the tree, doesn't mean they are ripe enough for good eating. Here are some guides to help you decide when to pick your apples.

  • Color change: As apples mature, the skin color in areas of the stem and the calyx basin at the bottom of the apple turns from an immature green to a light-yellow color. Some apples will develop a red skin color before they are ripe, so this is not a reliable indication of maturity.
  • Flavor: This is a good guide if you are familiar with the apples you have and know how they should taste. Even if you do not know the characteristic flavor of the kind of apple you have, you can still sample slices of a few apples and decide if they have a sweet flavor. If they are not ready to harvest, they will taste starchy or immature.
  • Flesh color: As apples mature and starches change to sugars, the flesh changes from very light green to white. When you cut a thin slice and hold it up to the light you can see the difference.
  • Days from bloom: The number of days from bloom is a reliable guide for general maturity time, but weather conditions will have some influence. Some kinds of apples and approximate days from bloom to maturity are Jonathan, 135, Delicious, 145, Golden Delicious, 145, and Winesap, 155 days.
  • Seed color: The seeds of most apples change from light green to brown as the fruit ripens. This indicator should be combined with other changes since it is not absolute. The flavor of the apples, the change in color of the stem and calyx basins and flesh color are important in deciding if apples are ready to harvest.

Source

Slime Mold On Turf...
Slime molds are primitive organisms that are common on turf and mulch. Slime molds are not fungi and are no longer classified as such. They belong to the Kingdom Protista rather than Kingdom Fungi. On turf, you might often see large numbers of small black, gray, white or purple fruiting structures, called sporangia on leaf blades during cool and humid weather throughout spring, summer and fall. Affected areas are often several inches to 1 foot in diameter. During wet weather, the fruiting structures may appear slimy. As the structures dry out in hot weather, they become ash gray, and break up easily when touched. Homeowners often are concerned that this is a disease organism that will kill the grass, but slime mold feeds on bacteria, other fungi and dead organic matter. It simply uses the turf as a structure on which to grow. However, slime mold can damage turf by completely covering leaf blades and interfering with photosynthesis. Chemical control of slime molds is not necessary. Use a broom or a heavy spray of water to dislodge the mold.

Source

Squash Harvest Hints...
Don't be too hasty in harvesting all your winter squash!  For longer keeping let winter squash stay on the vines as long as possible.  Wait until the vines die back or there is danger of frost.  Check by pressing with your thumbnail, if the skin is easily broken they are not fully matured and may not keep well.  

When you harvest leave two to three inches of stem on the squash.  Allow them to cure in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place for a couple of weeks before placing them in storage.  Also, never wash your squash until just before using and never carry squash or pumpkins by the stem.

Source

Fertilizer Figures...
Savvygardeners with cool-season grasses (bluegrass, fescue, and/or ryegrass) should plan on three applications of fertilizer each year - one in spring and two in fall.  Fall is the most important time to fertilize as it really encourages strong root growth resulting in healthier growth next spring.  September is a great month for the first fall application followed by another in November.

You're going to need about 1 to 1.5 pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn.  That's the amount of actual Nitrogen, not fertilizer product.  The amount of actual nitrogen in a fertilizer product is indicated by the first digit of the N-P-K number on the label of a fertilizer bag.  The N-P-K number indicates percentages by weight of the nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).  For example, a bag with a N-P-K of 20-4-4 has 20 percent nitrogen.  Therefore it will take 5 pounds of this fertilizer to provide 1 pound of actual nitrogen.

Finally...
"A garden is to be enjoyed, and should satisfy the mind and not only the eye of the beholder. Sounds such as the rustle of bamboo and the dripping of water, scents and sensations such as grass or gravel or stone underfoot, appeal to the emotions and play a part in the total impression. "

~ Penelope Hobhouse

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