~ April 23, 2008 ~
I spent a full day Monday with my youngest son Jake and his fourth
grade class at the Ernie Miller Nature Center. What a great
place to teach children about so many important things.
We learned about consumers, producers and de-composers.
The program allows the children to wonder around the grounds
searching for clues. Once they solve the clue they receive a puzzle piece.
The end result was a large puzzle with all pieces intact explaining
what we need to have on earth to survive. It was a great field trip
and the weather was warm and dry. Who could ask for a better day?
Here's a big welcome to Johnson Farms, a new Savvygardener supporter. The Johnson Farm
is located in Belton, Missouri. Jeanne and Tom Johnson have been in the
farming business for over thirty years, and enjoy sharing the beauty of
their 140 acre farm. They are in their fifth season of offering "more
flowers for less dollars" to the Kansas City-area, and look forward to seeing
you and your neighbors this spring for your garden and landscape needs.
Johnson Farms is full service nursery with many beautiful plants to choose
from. Sounds like a place I need to visit. Won't you join me?
As you can see we are riding the spring roller coaster. Rainy one day,
sunny, warm, and humid the next. How about that storm we had early
Tuesday morning? The thunder was on top of our house and the hail pelted
our windows. I love sleeping when it storms but must admit this one
was noisy. We seemed to get a good dose of rain which is fine by me.
The less I have to water the happier my wallet is. We are headed
into a week of unstable weather. Hopefully we will have a few days
to plant. Remember, do not work the soil if it is wet. The soil
needs to crumble in your hands like chocolate cake
(video). Working wet
soil will only set you and your plants up for failure.
Are Your Roses OK?
This is a good time to check your hybrid tea roses for any damage they might have
sufferered over our long winter. The extent of damage,
if any at all, will vary based on where your roses are growing
and what protection they were provided during the freeze
periods. Take a look at the canes to inspect for damage:
If the ends of canes are mushy cut them
back to more normal growth.
Brown canes should be scraped to
determine whether the cambium is alive. If not, simply cut
back the canes to live growth.
- Green canes are probably healthy and
can be left alone.
Most hybrid teas are propagated by budding. If all the growth
above the bud union is dead, the plant should be dug up and
discarded. Plants grown on their own roots can be allowed to
sprout from the base.
Hydrangeas are wonderful. Especially when
they bloom. You're not alone if you are sometimes (or often)
frustrated by otherwise beautiful and healthy-looking hydrangeas
that just won't bloom. There are
reasons for this of course. Here are the likely ones:
Some bloom on old wood, some on new season's growth.
For example, the popular 'Annabelle'
varieties bloom on new growth and are consequently best
cut back hard in the early spring. By
contrast, the Bigleaf hydrangea will grow
in Kansas City but will not
usually flower because the flowers develop on old (last
season's growth) wood. Since flower
buds lack the cold hardiness of the foliage buds, they are
often killed by our cold winters.
While they will do all right in partial shade or full
sunlight, too much shade could keep them from flowering
Fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers
will limit blooms. Try using a fertilizer with less nitrogen
"N" and more Phosphorous "P".
Showers For Flowers...
April is certainly living up to
it's traditional billing by
gracing us with much needed showers. Hopefully we will
continue to get the inch of rain per week that our gardens need.
Unfortunately most years bring us long periods of dry, hot
weather requiring diligent watering to keep our flowers looking
If staying on
top of watering isn't your idea of a good time you can always
choose your flowers accordingly. A drought-tolerant flower
garden should include the following:
For a more
complete list of drought-tolerant flowers that grow well in the
Kansas City area
Healthy Houseplants, Healthy Home...
Did you know that houseplants are
making your home a healthier place? Over a decade ago
NASA scientists discovered that plants are capable of removing
volatile organic compounds (VOC's) from the air. The
gases most often studied include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene,
toluene, ammonia, acetone, methyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and
trichlorethylene. The plants listed below (in no particular
order) are proven effective in this arena:
- Palms (Chrysalidocarpus,
Rhapis, Chamaedorea, and Phoenix)
- Fern (Nephrolepis)
Plant and Dragon Tree (Dracaena)
Plant and Weeping Fig (Ficus)
(Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis)
- Pothos (Epipremnum)
Do Not Disturb...
If you plan on growing vining fruits and vegetables like
cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon make sure you
start the seeds indoors in peat pots. These vining plants
don't appreciate having their roots disturbed and the peat pots
make it possible to effectively transplant them.
Here's a fact that's easy to remember: Most plants need 1
inch of water per week. But how can you be sure? The
precipitation figures you hear on the local weather broadcasts
may have little in common with what actually falls in your
garden. A simple rain gauge is the answer. They are
available for a couple of dollars at most hardware and garden
stores and are perfectly adequate for the job. Placement is
critical - make sure the rain gauge has an unobstructed "view"
to the sky. For example, you don't want it under awnings or tree limbs.
More Growin', More Mowin'...
Most of us think of mowing the lawn as a weekly task.
This time of year however the grass is growing so fast that you
probably need to mow it a bit more often. Remember that you
don't want to cut off more than 1/3 of the height of the grass in
any single mowing. In our yard that means mowing twice per
week. It won't last long and the extra investment in time will
yield a healthier more durable lawn when the summer heat sets in.
"I would not enter on
my list of friends the
man who needlessly
sets foot upon a worm. "
~ William Cowper