~ May 21, 2008 ~
Slowly but surely it is happening. I have planted annuals in pots and in the ground,
transplanted some hostas and have planted a few perennials. Kevin, with the help
of our son Noah and one of his friends Max
(photo), got some vegetables in the ground. Everything is really taking
shape. I still have window boxes to fill and pots in the backyard to create so I am
hoping for another good weekend. Last weekend was perfect. Not too many conflicts which
allowed me the time to visit
Johnson Farms, fill my car up with numerous flats, (I wish my
car were bigger) and arrive home ready to plant. It was such a great feeling of accomplishment.
Do you ever cross the street to look at your house's curb appeal? Once I have things planted
I cross the street to look at what others can or cannot see
(photo). I think it is a good exercise.
You should try it if you are not already doing it.
It was a sad day at our house yesterday. Cin Cin, the family cat passed away. She was 17
years old and a great cat. We had a small funeral for her today in the garden. We
collectively decided (except for Morgan our daughter) that burying her in the garden made
purrfect sense. We are going to plant something in remembrance of her. Jake our youngest
son was closest to Cin Cin so was heartbroken to hear the news. He is feeling better now
knowing that every time he goes out to the garden there will be something there to remind
him of her. He had some tears and some sincere words for her at the service. It is never
easy losing a family pet. We will all miss her.
Is That Poison Ivy?
Learning to identify poison ivy is vital if you wish to avoid the rash that
accompanies exposure. Unfortunately, poison ivy can make
identification difficult because it occurs in three forms: an
erect woody shrub, a groundcover that creeps along the ground,
and a woody vine that will climb trees. When poison ivy climbs,
it forms numerous aerial roots that gives the vine the appearance
of a fuzzy rope. The leaves of poison ivy also vary. Though the
compound leaf always has three leaflets, the leaf margins may be
toothed, incised, lobed or smooth. The size of the leaves can
also vary though usually the middle leaflet is larger than the
other two. Also, the middle leaflet is the only one with a long
stalk; the other two are closely attached to the petiole (leaf
stem). The number of leaves gives rise to the saying: "Leaves of
three, let it be!" Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia
creeper. Virginia creeper, however, has five leaflets rather than
Well, the unofficial start of summer is
this weekend (Memorial Day).
As the real thing sneaks up on Kansas
City gardeners we must prepare our gardens for the heat and
drought-like conditions that seem inevitable. Mulching your
garden is one of the best things you can do to help retain soil
moisture and keep weeds at bay.
supplies us with lots of great mulch for our gardens.
Here are some common mulching materials and a few thoughts on
Mulches are very common and effective. They are available
as chips, chunks, nuggets or shredded. In addition to being
generally attractive bark mulches resist compaction quite well.
Chips are also common, effective and economical. They can
deplete the soil of nitrogen however so additional fertilizing
may be required.
Needles are especially good around acid loving plants like
azaleas and blueberries.
is inexpensive and is often used in large vegetable gardens.
Make sure it is free of crop and weed seeds or you're just
making more work for yourself.
Clippings should only be used after they have dried out
thoroughly. If the source lawn has weeds your mulched garden
will likely get them too. Not too
can be attractive and effective but they don't provide any of
the decomposition benefits of organic mulches. Rock mulch in
direct sun can get quite hot causing problems for some tender
Plastic and Fabric aren't much to look at but they do keep
the weeds down.
general rule mulching with anything is better than not
mulching at all. It's that effective.
in-depth look at this important topic don't miss
About Mulch in our Features section.
Pests Attacking Annuals...
So, your newly planted annuals don't look so good. Chances
are they are the victims of any number of pests. Here are some
of the most common problems and some quick solutions:
leaves on your marigolds turn to "lace", earwigs or slugs
are probably nibbling on them at night. Spray with Sevin for
earwigs (best in late dusk after bees have stopped feeding).
To control slugs apply a product like Sluggo around the
will eat off newly planted plants at the soil line. Add
aluminum foil collars to the stems to protect the plants
from the worms.
or spider mites are a problem, spray with insecticidal soap.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Pinch...
No this isn't a race but if you start pinching back aster, garden phlox and
mums now you're sure to win later! Pinching back the blooms will
encourage bushier plants with more flowers. After some of your
summer perennials have tired out and are no longer blooming these
plants will start to peak and will add that much needed color to your garden. Soooo,
no need to dust off the running shoes for
this race just limber up those thumbs and start pinching!
Why Plants Don't Always Bloom...
One of the most common questions we get asked is simply, "Why
won't my plant bloom?" Why indeed. There are often several
factors involved but most can be explained by one of the
of Plant - Being too young or immature is a very common
reason that many trees do not flower. Plants need to reach a
certain level of maturity before they begin to flower each year
- Lack of adequate light is another very common reason that
many types of plants do not flower. Plants may grow but not
flower in the shade.
or Frost Injury - Cold weather may kill flower buds
or partially opened flowers. Plants that are not fully hardy
in our area are the most susceptible to this type of cold
Drought - Flowers or flower buds dry and drop off when
there is temporary lack of moisture in the plants.
Improper Pruning - Some plants bloom only on last year’s
wood. Pruning plants at the wrong time of the year can remove
the flower buds for next year’s blossoms. Many spring
flowering plants, such as azaleas begin setting next year’s
flower buds in the late spring. Pruning these plants in the
summer or fall may prevent flowering next year. Cutting back a
plant severely, such as with climbing roses, can remove all the
Nutrient Imbalance - Too much nitrogen can cause plants to
produce primarily leaves and stems. The plant will be large
and usually very green and healthy but will have few or no
There are lots of good reasons to grow herbs. First on my
list is for cooking. Nothing compares to the taste of fresh
herbs added to your favorite dish. I used to buy pesto in a
jar. I thought it was good until I started making my own from
garden-fresh basil. There's no going back folks.
is your goal make sure you do not fertilize your herbs too much.
The essential oils that provide flavor are more concentrated when
herbs are grown in moderately rich soil with just enough
fertilizer to keep them green. Too much fertilizer encourages
the plant to grow large but at the sacrifice of less flavor. To
get greater quantities without sacrificing quality simply grow
many more, albeit smaller, plants.
Whether you have laid a full yard of sod
or are just doing a little patchwork
(photo) you need to make
sure that your newly laid sod gets the right amount of water.
This means keeping it really wet (soupy) for the first week or
two. Ideally the sod and soil you are covering will be wet
to a depth of 3-4 inches. For a whole yard this means running
the sprinkler a lot. For patch work you can
probably give the area a good manual soaking 3-4 times a
day. After two weeks you will should be able to back off the
watering a bit, providing the sodded area with a good soak
each morning - again it's important that the sod and soil stay
wet. After four weeks your sod should be established enough to
live on a deep watering 2-3 times a week.
"Garden notebooks are instant nostalgia, and sometimes
they can make you feel a little sad for times long since past.
But if you keep them going and never let them become a
series of faded relics they will form a continuing microcosm
of family history as well as an invaluable horticultural record.
So do start one of your own, don't allow it to become
a nuisance, and don't feel that it has to be fine literature;
write in it when the spirit moves you. This way you will
preserve for yourself, and perhaps for your children, a very
pleasant account of how things were done by you and why."
~ Thalassa Cruso