~ March 12, 2008 ~
It's Just Not Fair...
Sam Parker and I got out for a brief walk today and I could hear several woodpeckers drilling away. Spring is such a
wonderful time of the year. So many sights and sounds. Being outside for that short amount of time made me feel a
little better. The sun was bright and warm on my face. A good dose of Vitamin D.
We are headed into one of my favorite times of the year. I am sure some of you are aware of it.
It is called March Madness or in our house we call it Marsh Madness. Yep, I love basketball almost
as much as I love gardening. We are headed to the tournament in town this weekend to watch several
good teams compete for the Big 12 Championship. I certainly hope I am feeling better. I need to be
able to cheer for my favorite team. I guess if I can't yell I can always wave the wheat!
Wouldn't you know it. Today is one of the nicest days we have had for some time and I am stuck inside with a terrible cold.
For some reason I thought the Marsh family was going to escape the awful crud this winter. Unfortunately I was wrong. I
have been sick since Sunday and Kevin is starting to show some symptoms as well. There is nothing like sharing with the ones
you love. The good news is that it is just a virus (I think that is good) and will run its course in 7 - 10 days. I hate
feeling cruddy and unproductive. So many things I could be doing and I don't have the strength or desire to do any of them.
Such a bummer!
Spring Lawns: To Seed or Not to Seed...
As spring approaches you will no doubt start inspecting your
lawn only to re-discover that it is less than perfect.
Most of us have bare spots or entire areas that are
begging for new seed. Reliable sources will tell you that spring
is the second best time of year to plant grass seed (the best
time being fall). What they don't
tell you is that in this case second best may not be good enough
at all. We'll try to explain...
is the best time to plant because seeds get the double benefit
of warm soil and cooler air temperatures. Fall
planted grass also establishes a strong root system even after
the grass blades have stopped growing for the season.
By contrast spring sown grass seed
gets cool air temperatures but not warm soil - making it
tougher to germinate. In many cases
the grass is not established well enough to take the heat
imposed on it by the typical Kansas City summer.
More often than not, your new grass
is toast by mid-July.
doesn't mean you shouldn't plant new grass in the spring.
You just need to be aware of the
risks. At our house we try to limit
spring grass seeding to small bare patches and hope for the
best. For bigger jobs consider
contacting a professional lawn care company
(we use Ryan Lawn & Tree)
to improve your chances.
Most catalogs don't deliver your plant orders until it's
time to plant them. Unfortunately sometimes local conditions
are different than "usual" and your plants arrive a bit early
for planting. Don't panic, but don't ignore them either! Your
mail-order plants do need some care in the time between their
arrival and your ability to plant them. Unwrap them immediately
and check for specific directions on early care. Lacking this
just keep them cool and moist in a protected area until you can
safely get them in the ground.
Plant By The Rules...
Planning on planting a tree (or two or
three) this spring? Make sure you do it right. That tree is
supposed to be around for a long time. Our friends at K-State
Research & Extension recently published 10 Rules for Planting
Trees. Check it out here...
St. Pat's and Potatoes...
While it's traditional to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's
Day Savvygardeners should be aware of two assumptions made in
setting this date. First, that your soil is consistently 45º
or higher. The recent warm-up means sunny locations
may be ready.
assumption is that the soil is dry enough to be worked. Working
in overly moist soil can make a mess that will be hard to
correct later. How can you tell? Grab a handful of soil and
squeeze. If it holds together like clay it's too wet. If it
crumbles like a cupcake it's ready for planting.
weather and your soil closely. You really want to get those
'taters planted between now and the end of March.
Vegetable Gardening Without A Garden...
If your outdoor space is limited, consider gardening without
a garden. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and many other vegetables
do well when grown in containers. Barrels, window boxes, cut-off
milk jugs, almost any container that provides good drainage will
do as long as it is deep enough to support the plant. Minimum
depths for some container-grown vegetables:
- 4 inches - lettuce, radishes, beets, low-growing herbs
- 6 inches - chard, turnips, short-rooted carrots
- 8 inches - eggplant, peppers, bush cucumbers
- 10 inches - cauliflower, broccoli
- 12 inches - tomatoes, long-rooted carrots
Healthy Lawn Diet...
Though advertising for lawn fertilizers is at its yearly high,
most lawns don’t really need
fertilizer now. Do not apply high rates of nitrogen (more than 0.75 lbs
N/1000 sq. ft.) to your lawn from March through early May. Too much
nitrogen at this time of the year will lead to problems later this summer such
as poor root growth and disease. Additionally, since spring rains play
havoc with mowing schedules, nitrogen fertilization can further complicate your
mowing schedule by causing grass plants to grow too fast. Instead of
applying fertilizer now, it is better to wait until mid-to late-May and apply up
to ¾ lbs N/1000 sq. ft. with a fertilizer that contains mostly
The Old Heave Ho...
Temperatures have been jumping around a
bit lately but a well deserved thaw in the soil may be a
permanent thing soon. Scout around your garden for signs of
recent heaving - the forcing of shallow-rooted plants
out of the soil due to the freezing and thawing of the ground.
Don't tamp the plants or the surrounding soil as this may overly
compact the soil. Simply give them a gentle push back into
"It was one of those March days
when the sun shines hot and
the wind blows cold: when it
is summer in the light, and winter
in the shade."
~ Charles Dickens