This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Growing Groundcovers ~ When To Pick Apples ~ Fertilizer Figures
~ Household Hazardous Waste ~ Slime Mold On Turf ~ This Week's Photos
~ The Sunflower Shake ~ Squash Harvest Hints ~ Inspiration
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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


Shrub Pruning Calendar
~ Pruning Clematis 
~ Gardening in the Shade
~ Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
~ Drought-Tolerant Flowers for KC
~ Preparing for a Soil Test
~ Changing the pH of Your Soil
~ Growing Herbs
~ When to Harvest Vegetables
~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
~ Organic Pesticides & Biopesticides
~ 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
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ September 3,  2008 ~

Bring It On!
What a day! There is a light rain falling, a cool breeze blowing and a slight hint of fall in the air. Isn't it exciting? I love it when the seasons transition from one to another. I know there are still a few warmer days ahead but I am ready to move on. I look forward to cooler days, jeans, football games, cool-weather food and of course working in the garden. I will be planting pansies, mums and a bunch of newly purchased perennials. I am ready for fall so bring it on!

If you have tropicals outside and want to overwinter them inside, now is the time to start thinking about bringing them in. No need to panic as frost is still (hopefully) a month or so away. Prune them, ridding them of dead wood or unwanted growth. Give them a good bath to kill any unwanted pests that are lingering on the leaves or in the soil. And last but not least find a sunny spot that will make them happy throughout the winter months. If you start thinking about them now you won't be in a bind once the weather turns drastically cold.

Lastly, when was the last time you told a friend about this newsletter? Take a moment and do it now! We've improved our tell a friend feature - it's much easier than it used to be. Simply follow the "Forward this newsletter" link at the bottom of this newsletter. Thanks for your help!

~ Shelly   

Growing Groundcovers...
Most groundcovers can be planted at any time of the year. However, fall planting takes advantage of lower temperatures and increased rainfall. Watering is reduced and plants establish a stronger root system well inadvance of next summer's stressful heat.

Space the plants according to their size, the immediate effect desired, and their rate of growth and habit. If the individual plants are spaced too far apart, weeding can be a problem and the time required for complete coverage can be quite long. On the other extreme, planting too closely together can be a needless waste of time, money and plant materials. In addition, there will be increased competition as the plants grow into maturity. Usually, it is best to space the plants so the groundcover areas will, for the most part, be completely covered by the end of the third growing season. A staggered row-planting pattern usually will result in the quickest cover of the planting bed.


Household Hazardous Waste...
Fall clean-up of your garage or other work areas may turn up containers of old pesticides, herbicides, and other lawn and garden chemicals. These items are considered household hazardous wastes and should not be thrown in the trash. Instead, Savvygardeners should dispose of them safely through their local government. For more information simply click on the appropriate local government link below:

The Sunflower Shake...
You don't have to be a Kansas Savvygardener to appreciate the beauty of sunflowers. For those of you who want to harvest your sunflower seeds and don't know when they're ready just look for these tell-tale signs:

  • The flower's head is droopy and faces the ground.
  • Most of the petals have fallen off.
  • The birds are starting to enjoy the seeds.

Gently shake the head of the flower and the seeds will fall off. Store them in a nice dry place for planting next spring!

When To Pick Apples...
Just because apples are falling from the tree, doesn't mean they are ripe enough for good eating. Here are some guides to help you decide when to pick your apples.

  • Color change: As apples mature, the skin color in areas of the stem and the calyx basin at the bottom of the apple turns from an immature green to a light-yellow color. Some apples will develop a red skin color before they are ripe, so this is not a reliable indication of maturity.
  • Flavor: This is a good guide if you are familiar with the apples you have and know how they should taste. Even if you do not know the characteristic flavor of the kind of apple you have, you can still sample slices of a few apples and decide if they have a sweet flavor. If they are not ready to harvest, they will taste starchy or immature.
  • Flesh color: As apples mature and starches change to sugars, the flesh changes from very light green to white. When you cut a thin slice and hold it up to the light you can see the difference.
  • Days from bloom: The number of days from bloom is a reliable guide for general maturity time, but weather conditions will have some influence. Some kinds of apples and approximate days from bloom to maturity are Jonathan, 135, Delicious, 145, Golden Delicious, 145, and Winesap, 155 days.
  • Seed color: The seeds of most apples change from light green to brown as the fruit ripens. This indicator should be combined with other changes since it is not absolute. The flavor of the apples, the change in color of the stem and calyx basins and flesh color are important in deciding if apples are ready to harvest.


Slime Mold On Turf...
During cool and humid weather you might often see large numbers of small black, gray, white or purple fruiting structures on your turf. These are slime molds, primitive organisms that are very common on turf and mulch. (Slime molds are not fungi and are no longer classified as such.) Affected areas are often several inches to 1 foot in diameter. During wet weather, the fruiting structures may appear slimy. As the structures dry out in hot weather, they become ash gray, and break up easily when touched.

Homeowners are often concerned that this is a disease organism that will kill their grass. But slime mold feeds on bacteria, other fungi and dead organic matter - not the grass itself. It simply uses the turf as a structure on which to grow. However, slime mold can damage turf if it completely covers leaf blades and interferes with photosynthesis. Chemical control of slime molds is not necessary. Use a broom or a heavy spray of water to dislodge the mold.


Squash Harvest Hints...
Don't be too hasty in harvesting all your winter squash! For longer keeping let winter squash stay on the vines as long as possible. Wait until the vines die back or there is danger of frost. Check by pressing with your thumbnail, if the skin is easily broken they are not fully matured and may not keep well.

When you harvest leave two to three inches of stem on the squash. Allow them to cure in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place for a couple of weeks before placing them in storage. Also, never wash your squash until just before using and never carry squash or pumpkins by the stem.


Fertilizer Figures...
Savvygardeners with cool-season grasses (bluegrass, fescue, and/or ryegrass) should plan on three applications of fertilizer each year - one in spring and two in fall. Fall is the most important time to fertilize as it really encourages strong root growth resulting in healthier growth next spring.  September is a great month for the first fall application followed by another in November.

You're going to need about 1 to 1.5 pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. That's the amount of actual Nitrogen, not fertilizer product. The amount of actual nitrogen in a fertilizer product is indicated by the first digit of the N-P-K number on the label of a fertilizer bag. The N-P-K number indicates percentages by weight of the nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). For example, a bag with a N-P-K of 20-4-4 has 20 percent nitrogen. Therefore it will take 5 pounds of this fertilizer to provide 1 pound of actual nitrogen.

"Try to keep a garden beautiful to yourself alone and see what happens - the neighbor, hurrying by to catch his train of mornings, will stop to snatch a glint of joy from the iris purpling by your doorstep. The motorist will throw on brakes and back downhill just to see those Oriental poppies massed against the wall. "

~ Richardson Wright



Tectonic Landscaping

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