~ April 2, 2008 ~
What A Difference A Week Makes...
In a matter of one week the scenery has changed considerably. Last week the forsythia
was just about to bloom and now it is in full bloom. Daffodils, crocus and hyacinth
are open everywhere you look. The trees are budding and I have seen a few already
flowering, mostly magnolias and dogwoods. Hopefully we will not have a hard freeze
or the beauty that is thriving now will be bitten and eventually die. I have seen
it happen so many times. When we lived in our old house the magnolia would bloom
early, there would be a hard freeze and then the beautiful flowers would turn black.
It was always so heartbreaking. Unfortunately you can't throw a blanket over a tree.
You can however cut flowers that are in bloom. So if you see a Savvygardener frost alert arrive in
your email in-box either cover flowers in bloom or cut them and bring them into the
house. It is never easy to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature this time of year.
Quite a few people in our neighborhood are already mowing their lawns. Our lawn
is not quite ready but if it rains and warmer temperatures stick around it won't
take much for it to really start growing. It seems that all of this takes place
overnight. I just cut back the deadwood on my Homerun roses today. The new
shoots on the plants look healthy. They survived the horrendous winter and are
ready for a full season of blooms. They really are quite beautiful. A lot going
on outside. Gotta go!
P.S. - We will be trying a different e-mail delivery system next week. Please let us know if you don't receive next week's newsletter.
It is easy to sow too many seeds in a row of beets or
carrots. Carrot seeds are small and angular making it difficult
to scatter seeds without inadvertently dropping several of them
together. Beets emerge from a capsule containing several seeds
and often come up too thick. Do your best not to overseed either
of these popular vegetables. Both of these crops need room for
roots to expand and grow.
Carrots should be spaced about 2 to 3 inches apart, and beets 3 to 4
inches apart. Once they begin growing you can remove some of the
plants in the row to attain these desirable plant spacings.
The Cultivation Situation...
Here's some advice - "Don't cultivate your garden." This may
sound kind of crazy, but the truth is cultivating and deep hoeing
can cause considerable damage to the shallow roots of flowers and
vegetables. Also, every time you cultivate, you stir the soil
and bring weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. A
two-inch layer of mulch will stop annual weeds, otherwise, cut
off weeds at the surface of the soil with a sharp scuffle hoe, so
in a week or 10 days, you won't have another batch to destroy.
If you do not have a scuffle hoe, pull the weeds by hand. If you
start early in the season and keep them pulled regularly, it is
not too big a job in a small to medium-sized garden.
Longer Life for Lilies...
Easter was early this year and many of you are probably wondering what to do
with your potted Easter lilies after the blooms have gone.
Unfortunately the lily doesn't survive as a houseplant,
but it can be transplanted outdoors where it may bloom
again this year.
Find a sunny spot in the garden to plant the bulb. Remove the plant
from its container and loosen the roots. Plant the bulb a few
inches deeper than it was in the container and cover it with
soil. Water thoroughly and fertilize with an all-purpose garden
fertilizer. For the remainder of the season water and fertilize
as you would your other garden plantings. Don't be alarmed when
the top withers and dies. New shoots will emerge and may flower
in July or August.
Understand that lilies are not normally winter-hardy in the greater Kansas
City area. To improve your chances for success, mulch them with
4 inches of straw or leaves in the fall. With luck you will have
new flowers again next June!
Tines For Transplanting...
One of the trickiest parts of raising seedlings indoors is
the delicate process of transplanting up to a larger peat pot.
All too often the soil surrounding the roots just falls apart.
Try using an ordinary table fork next time. You can loosen the
plants in the seed flat without damaging the roots. Then you can
open a hole for the new transplant in the new flat or pot by
rocking it sideways. Finally, by sliding the tines around the
delicate stem and pressing down, the transplant can be firmed in
the growing medium.
Befuddled By Bulbs...
Every year about this time we start getting e-mails asking about all the bulbs currently
offered by retailers and garden centers. "Isn't fall the correct
time to plant bulbs?" is the common question.
Well, fall is the correct time to plant
spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc...)
But there's another group of "bulbs" that can be planted soon for
floral displays this summer. They include begonias, dahlias,
daylilies, and so many more! If you're ready to give them a try
take a moment to read our Guide
to Summer Flowering Bulbs in Kansas City.
Are You A Good Host?
Sometimes gardening is a lot like hosting a party. Plants, like
party guests, need to be steered toward others that will enjoy
their company. The practice of companion planting, growing
vegetables in proximity to helpful plants, has become quite
popular over the years. Here are some of our favorite matchmaker
Keep Distance From
Carrots, peppers, basil,
Mature dill, kohlrabi,
Carrots, cucumber, pea,
potatoes, radish, marigold, nasturtium, rosemary
Garlic, onion, shallots,
cucumbers, celery, turnip
Garlic, onion, gladiolus
Beans, radish, tomatoes,
peppers, onion, sage
Corn, tomatoes, cabbage,
radishes, dill, nasturtium
Aromatic herbs, potatoes
Ready, Set, Mow...
If you haven't started mowing your lawn
yet, get ready to. Start by walking your property and picking up
everything that shouldn't be there when mowing - toys, sticks,
golf balls, whatever. Also, make sure your mower blade is sharp. A sharp blade
ensures a clean cut and a better looking lawn.
Don't wait until the entire lawn needs mowing. This time of year many lawns
grow in a patchy manner and there will be spots that are several
inches taller than others.
"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."
~ Christopher Morley