~ March 5, 2008 ~
A Taste Of Spring...
Enough with the teasing! Mother Nature has given us a taste of spring and we want more!
The smell of spring is everywhere. The plants are beginning to stir, the animals are
courting and the desire to be outside becomes stronger every day. We have made it through
a very difficult winter. It is our time as gardeners to get back to what we love. The light
at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and my spirits are rising. Let the gardening season begin!
Kevin and I ventured out to the Johnson County Home & Garden Show and spoke to our friends at
the Water Garden Society
(photo). Kevin and I are educating ourselves. We are getting ready to install
our first pond and we want to make sure we do it right. We met Kevin and Diane Swan, owners of
Swan's Water Gardens in Overland Park, Kansas. It was great talking with them. They gave us some
insight about exactly what makes a pond a pond. Fish, rocks, pumps, plants - there is so much to know.
I would encourage anyone who is wanting a pond to make sure you do your homework. Creating a pond is
certainly more complex than I thought.
Warmer weather is headed in our direction for the weekend. You will find me outside.
Armed And Ready...
As you walk through your gardens take
along a hand pruner and cut out dead branches from your shrubs. The living
branches should be recognizable by the
appearance of leaf or flower buds.
The dead ones are the "dead-looking" ones with no green visible
underneath the brown outer bark layer.
For more assistance check out
in our Features section.
Staggered Seed Start...
timing right on seed starting is pretty important. Start too
early and your plants will get leggy before it's time to put
them outside. Start too late and you miss out on valuable
growing time (especially if you want the first tomatoes on the
block). Seeds are cheap, time is unrecoverable. Instead of
starting all of your similar seeds (tomato for instance) at the
same time, try starting 1/3 of them each week for three weeks.
If warm weather is early, you'll be ahead. If cold weather
lingers you'll still have seedlings at the appropriate
Iris Leaf Spot Control...
Now is a good time to begin control measures for iris leaf
spot by removing old, dead leaves. Iris leaf spot is a fungal d
isease that attacks the leaves and occasionally the flower
stalks and buds of iris. Infection is favored by wet periods
during the spring, and the emerging leaves eventually show small
spots. The borders of these spots are reddish, and surrounding
tissue first appears water-soaked, and then yellows. Spots
enlarge after flowering and may coalesce. Though the disease will
not kill the plant directly, repeated attacks can reduce plant
vigor so that the iris may die from other stresses. Spores are
passed to nearby plants by wind or splashing water.
Because this disease overwinters in old leaves, removal and destruction
of dead leaves will help with control. For plants that had little
infection the previous year, this may be all that is needed.
Plants that were heavily infected last year should be sprayed
with chlorothalonil (Daconil) or myclobutanil (Immunox) starting
in the spring when leaves appear. Repeat sprays every seven to 10
days for four to six sprays. Iris leaves are waxy, so be sure to
include a spreader-sticker in your spray to insure good coverage.
If you are planning to core-aerate your tall fescue or
Kentucky bluegrass lawn this spring, reserve a machine now so
you can get the job done in March or early-April. Coring early
in the spring gives cool-season lawns a chance to recover before
crabgrass and other warm-season annual weeds start to germinate.
According to our friends at
K-State Extension core-aerating is one of the best things you
can do for your lawn. It relieves compaction, hastens thatch
decomposition, increases water infiltration and helps promote
better root growth. Pay attention to the soil moisture level
when coring. The soil should easily crumble when worked between
the fingers. If it is too wet, the machine's tines will plug and
it will merely punch holes in the wet soil, which increases
compaction. If it is too dry, the tines will not be able to
penetrate very deeply.
Time For Tomatoes?...
A quick check of our
Seed Starting Calendar reveals that it's time to start seeds
for those warm-weather vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.
Tomatoes can be found in many, many gardens. Why not yours? If
you need some help getting started just read
Seed Starting Tomatoes in our Features
Thyme For Renewal...
If you grow thyme in your garden you may want to rejuvenate
your plot this spring. Thyme, a low-growing, woody perennial
herb, should be started from seed every two to three years.
This is because older plants produce coarser, lower grade stems
and leaves. Thyme seeds often germinate poorly when planted
directly in the soil, so it's best to start plants indoors now
for transplant later.
Now Cut That Out...
So, you think it's too early to cut the grass? Not the
ornamental grass! In early spring before new growth begins
you should remove the previous year's foliage to promote earlier
and more healthy growth. Use hand clippers,
a pruning saw, or sharp shears to cut your grasses back
to within 3 to 5 inches of the ground. To
minimize the mess try tying the grass into a standing bundle
"There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard."
~ Edward Lear