This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ When Good Mulch Goes Bad ~ Minimize Mosquitoes ~ Taxing Times For Turf
~ Is That A Volcano In Your Garden? ~ Fruit Dropping, Branch Propping ~ This Week's Photos
~ Blackspot On Roses ~ Through Hail and Back ~ Inspiration
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Shrub Pruning Calendar
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~ Preparing for a Soil Test
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~ Cold Frames & Hot Beds
~ When to Divide Perennials
~ Dividing Spring Blooming Perennials
~ Forcing Bulbs Indoors
~ Overseeding A Lawn
~ Pruning Trees
~ Pruning Shrubs
~ Planting Trees
~ Deer Resistant Plants
~ Trees that Survived the Storm
~ Stump Removal Options for the Homeowner
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This Week's Photos

~ June 11, 2008 ~

Windy, Wet, Weary...
It is windy today but dry and warm. Trying to stay on top of getting things planted has been a challenge. The soil is wet. If you are still planting like I am, make sure that you are careful about how you plant. What I do is dig the hole for whatever I am planting and remove the wet soil and replace it with a combination of topsoil and compost. I then take the wet, compacted soil to an area of the garden where there is plenty of sun. The soil then receives an opportunity to dry out allowing me to use it at a later time. A win, win situation for both me and the plant.

The good news is that we haven't had to water at all. The bad news is that my feet have become webbed. I've had enough of the rain, lightning and high winds. We were without power Sunday evening into early Monday morning due to lightning hitting a transformer a couple blocks away. It wasn't too bad. Being the crazy weather watchers that we are we loaded up the whole family and ventured out to get ice cream. We also drove down to the Plaza to catch a glimpse of Brush Creek. The water was moving at an alarmingly fast rate. It looked like a small river with some very treacherous rapids. It truly is amazing how fast moving water can be so devastating.

Our gardening friends in Pittsburg, Kansas are having a city wide gardening tour this Saturday, June 14th. Learn more by following this link. Also our friend Becky Homan will be signing her book The Missouri Gardener's Companion on Friday, June 13th on the plaza at Barnes & Nobel from 1-4 PM. Fun things!

~ Shelly   

When Good Mulch Goes Bad...
There's bound to be a few Savvygardeners out there that had a pile of mulch delivered before or during the rains we've had recently. If you didn't get that mulch covered be careful. Hardwood mulch can become a real problem if left too long in a damp pile. Not only does it smell bad once it "sours" it can adversely affect plants that it comes in contact with. Symptoms look like fertilizer or pesticide burn or water stress. Damage can be severe enough to actually kill plants - yikes! Depending on the extent of the injury, plants are often able to recover. Savvygardeners should water affected plants during hot, dry periods to prevent further stress.

Mulch that has soured can still be used if it is "mellowed" before application. Simply spread the mulch in shallow layers and allow it to air out for several days until it no longer smells.

Is That A Volcano In Your Garden?
Speaking of mulch... When mulching try to avoid creating "mulch volcanoes" at the base of your trees. Unfortunately it is quite common to see trees mulched in this manner - a ring of mulch that gets progressively deeper as it approaches the trunk. While this is better than no mulch at all the University of Missouri Extension advises us that there are some real problems to consider:

  • When mulch is placed more than about 4 inches deep, roots tend to "migrate" up into the mulch during rainy periods or when the area is irrigated. Then, when drought conditions occur, the plant may come under severe stress because many of its roots are growing in a material with much less water holding capacity than real soil.
  • The surfaces of the mulch volcanoes can become hydrophobic due to fungal activity and will act as very effective umbrellas, shedding water to the surrounding turf. This could easily kill a young tree by depriving it of much needed water.
  • Other possible problems with mulch volcanoes are promotion of fungal canker diseases by constant moisture around the lower trunk, stress from poor gas exchange by the cells in the bark and damage from rodents that may take up residence in the volcano.


Blackspot On Roses...
A common disease of roses is blackspot, a fungal disease that can cause defoliation of susceptible plants. Look for dark, circular lesions with feathery edges on the top surface of the leaves and raised purple spots on young canes. Infected leaves will often yellow between spots and eventually drop. The infection usually starts on the lower leaves and works its way up the plant. Blackspot is most severe under conditions of high relative humidity (> 85%), warm temperatures (75 to 85 degrees F) and six or more hours of leaf wetness. Newly expanding leaves are most vulnerable to infection. The fungus can survive on fallen leaves or canes and is disseminated primarily by splashing water.

Cultural practices are the first line of defense.

  1. Donít plant susceptible roses unless you are willing to use fungicide sprays. Follow this link for a list of blackspot resistant varieties.
  2. Keep irrigation water off the foliage. Drip irrigation works best with roses.
  3. Plant roses in sunny areas with good air movement to limit the amount of time the foliage is wet.
  4. Remove diseased leaves that have fallen and prune out infected rose canes to minimize inoculum.

If needed, gardeners can protect foliage with a regular spray program of effective fungicides. Recommended fungicides include tebuconazole (Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and Shrubs), myclobutanil (Immunox), triforine (Funginex), thiophanate methyl (Fertilome Halt) and chlorothalonil (Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Garden Disease Control.


Minimize Mosquitoes...
One of our least favorite parts of summer is the arrival (or re-emergence) of mosquitoes. This year is no exception. Eliminating sources of standing water is the most effective way of keeping mosquito populations in check but it is sometimes impractical for gardeners.  Here are some good tips for dealing with standing water that can't be removed.

  • Drain or empty the water in dog bowls, wading pools and birdbaths at least once-a-week. This will ensure egg-stage mosquitoes never have time to reach maturity.
  • Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully. Where soils have high clay content, for example, irrigating slowly or irrigating several times lightly will allow the clay to absorb the water, rather than causing puddles and runoff.
  • Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito larvae-eating fish, such as goldfish.
  • Remove in-water plants from the edges of garden ponds to allow fish access to the larvae living and developing there.
  • Using a retail product to control mosquito larvae will be more effective and less costly than trying to control the flying adults.

Fruit Dropping, Branch Propping...
Don't be alarmed if tree fruit is dropping this time of year. It's just Mother nature's natural thinning process designed to prevent excessive loads.  Just in case the branch loads remain too heavy you should thin remaining fruit by hand or prop up heavy branches to avoid breakage.  Most fruit should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on a branch.


Through Hail and Back...
Many of us have been living through some pretty severe storms lately - a reminder of how harsh Mother Nature can be. Since many of our severe storms carry hail it's important to think about the implications of hail damage on our trees - especially those with thin bark. Ned Tisserat, Plant Pathologist for the Cooperative Extension Service at the K-State Research and Extension Horticulture office explained the problem to us several years ago year and the advice is as good today as it was then. "Hail may strip the bark off trees or provide entrance points for canker and shoot blight diseases.  Thyronectria canker of honeylocust, perennial canker of peach and Sphaeropsis tip blight of pines may increase dramatically following a hail storm. A fungicide application immediately following a hail storm is sometimes warranted.  However, the application should be made relatively soon after the injury (within a few days). Unfortunately, in most cases fungicide applications are made well beyond the point they will do any good."

In other words, act quickly to thwart any unnecessary disease that might occur.

Taxing Times For Turf...
The next few months will likely be very taxing for your fescue or bluegrass lawn. Long, hot and humid days, with little rainfall can make even the greenest lawns wilt. While it's probably not possible to keep your turf looking perfectly lush and green all summer you can prepare it for the heat by raising the cutting height of your mower. Fescues and bluegrass should be cut at a height of 3 to 3Ĺ inches. Determine your mowing frequency by cutting no more than one-third of the blade height with each cutting. This means cutting when it reaches 4Ĺ inches or so.

"The home gardener is part scientist, part artist, part philosopher, part plowman. He modifies the climate around his home."

~ John R. Whiting



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