~ April 30, 2008 ~
Eight Days A Week...
It has already been a crazy week and it is only Wednesday. I am sure
many of you can relate. It is spring and there are a thousand and one
things to do. I am sure there are more but for now it is just a
thousand and one. It seems as if April and May are four months combined
into two. So many things I would like to do. I would like to spend a day
Johnson Farms, buy a lot, come home and plant, attend scheduled field
trips, soccer tournaments, cheer meetings as well as golf and tennis outings.
I need to freshen up my juggling skills because right now I feel as if there
are one too many balls in the air.
I helped a friend this past weekend ready her gardens for a party she is
hosting this weekend. I thought we would get a jump on planting, hoping
that we might sneak plants in without worrying about the temperatures.
Well, just goes to show you what I know. Sure enough, a frost alert was
issued for Sunday and Monday mornings. We ended up covering some tropicals
we purchased but I reassured her that everything else in the ground would be
OK. I do believe that was our last scare but we do live in Kansas so
anything is possible.
There is a great new book out called
The Missouri Gardener's Companion. It is written by Becky Homan and is
a guide to gardening in the Show Me state. I am proud to say there are quotes
throughout her book using Savvygardener.com as a reliable source :-) BIG SMILE!
Becky will be signing books this Saturday, May 3rd from 10 AM - 2 PM during the
Spring Plant Sale at Powell Gardens. The book is great and reinforces
the everyday things gardeners in both Kansas and Missouri need to know.
A must read!
Oh Say Can You Sow?
Gardeners all across the metro will be out this weekend
buying bedding plants, vegetable seedlings, and all manner of
transplants for the garden. Keep in mind that some plants
actually prefer to have their seeds sown directly in the garden.
vegetables these include: beans, beets, carrots, celery,
peas, squash, and turnips.
- Among flowers:
alyssum, aster, bachelor's button, cosmos, marigold, morning
glory, sunflower, sweet pea, and zinnia.
seeds, read the directions, watch them grow!
Why Lilacs Don't Bloom...
There's nothing quite as frustrating as an otherwise healthy
lilac bush that just won't bloom. It's a common problem and here's a rundown of the most common reasons:
Excess shade is the most likely culprit when lilacs fail to
bloom well. Lilacs bloom best in full sunlight, or at least a half day
sun. Anything less will mean fewer flowers developing. When they're in
a location that's shaded all day, lilacs rarely bloom at all.
Any pruning should be done
right after the flowers fade in spring. If you wait until
mid- to late summer to do it, you may not see many flowers the following year. That's because the flower buds for the
following year are set shortly after the plant is through blooming.
Lilacs don't need fertilizer
to make them bloom. In fact, an abundance of nutrients, especially nitrogen,
encourages the lilac to make a lot of leafy, vegetative growth – which
may come at the expense of flower bud development.
Lilacs grow best in well-drained soil. While wet,
poorly-drained soil isn't directly associated with lack of blooms, it
is associated with plants that develop root roots or generally fail to
thrive. If you have a young lilac in a low lying moist location,
transplant it to a more favorable site if at all possible.
Ants In Your...
Not your pants, but your peonies! If you have peonies you no
doubt have noticed a proliferation of ants scurrying to and fro
across the flower buds. Those ants are the source of many "old
gardener's tales" that have been handed down over the ages.
Here's the deal: The ants are there because of the nectar-like
substance secreted by the peony. Chances are that the ants you
see on your peonies are already living in your garden - the
peonies just draw them out of the soil and make them more
visible. In other words, peonies are not increasing your local
ant population (which creepily number in the hundreds of
thousands or more). Some say that the ants actually help peonies
bloom. Most experts disagree but since they do no harm it's best
to just let them enjoy your peonies as much as you do.
Cutworms can be a real problem for gardeners setting out
transplants. Protect your newly
transplanted plants with collars. Simply cut strips of
cardboard 2 inches wide by 8 inches long and staple them into a
band. Place this collar around the plant stem and press it about
1 inch into the soil. Simple and very
Orange Worms On Junipers?
If you've seen what appears to be clumps of
orange jelly-like worms on your junipers
you are actually looking at cedar-apple rust. This rust fungi
spends a portion of its life cycle on hosts such as apple,
flowering crab, and hawthorn, and another portion on species of
Juniperus (which includes eastern red cedar). The effects
of these diseases on junipers are minimal.
rusts produce reddish-brown galls on the twigs of juniper. These
woody galls usually are ½ to 2 inches in diameter. In early
April, galls swell and produce orange, one-inch long, gelatinous
tendrils that remain on the galls through May. Trees with
numerous galls are easily identified by their bright orange cast
during rainy weather. The galls of cedar-apple rust last only
one season; the spent galls dry and fall from the tree during
the summer months.
There's nothing quite as refreshing as the feeling of walking barefoot on
a dew-covered lawn first thing in the morning. Nothing will ruin
that feeling faster than stepping on a big ol' slimy slug.
Aesthetically these guys have no redeeming properties at all.
They can wreak havoc on your garden as well. Young slugs
will damage your plants by rasping away the surface of plant
leaves for food. These guys can eat 30 to 40 times their
weight every day! The adults chew holes in leaves and leave
slime trails on your precious plants. If you don't already have a favorite and
effective way to control slugs try these tricks:
- Slugs like
the dark and damp. Place a board over damp ground for a
hiding place during the day. Check each morning and destroy
any slugs that have gathered on the bottom of the board.
- Slugs are
attracted to and drown in shallow dishes containing beer. Set
the top edges of the dish at ground level and cover loosely
with a board so slugs can easily get into the brew.
- If you don't
like the idea of killing slugs you can try physical barriers,
Slugs will not cross rough surfaces. Sprinkle
ashes or special slug barriers around the perimeter of the
garden. Stay on top of this method however.
If rain, wind, or anything else sweeps the barrier away you
can count on the slugs exploiting the breach in your defenses.
The Turfgrass Two-Step...
Most of us are creatures of habit. When it comes to mowing your
lawn you probably follow the same back and forth pattern every
time you cut the grass. Unfortunately this regular practice will
eventually wear ruts in the lawn where the mower wheels
repeatedly follow the same path. To avoid this problem try a
four-way rotation of cutting patterns. Picture your lawn as a
sheet of paper and try these patterns. Next week - tango
Horizontal - left-to-right, turn, right-to-left across
Vertical - top-to-bottom, turn, bottom-to-top across
Diagonal 1 - bottom-left to top-right, turn, top-right
to bottom-left. Work toward corners.
Diagonal 2 - bottom-right to top-left, turn, top-left
to bottom-right. Work toward corners.
"If you really want to draw close to your garden, you must
remember first of all that you are dealing with a being that
lives and dies; like the human body, with its poor flesh, its
illnesses at times repugnant. One must not always see it
dressed up for a ball, manicured and immaculate."
~ Fernand Lequenne