This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Minimize Lawn Damage ~ A Gentler Approach ~ All Set For Onions
~ White Water ~ Care For Amaryllis ~ This Week's Photos
~ Mulching Tea Roses ~ Viability Verification ~ Inspiration
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the Savvygardener Community
~ Gardening Forums, Blogs, Photos, Events and more...


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

~ January 21, 2009 ~

A Little Distracted...
I must admit that I am still riding on an Inauguration high. Yesterday was truly something! Having two children (Morgan and Noah) in DC amongst the activities made it hard for me to get anything accomplished. For some reason I was sure that I was going to catch a glimpse of them on TV. That's pretty funny considering there were a million plus people there. We moms are crazy. I watched TV most of the day hoping to see one of my kids pop up on TV. Guess what? I didn't see them but received text after text about what was transpiring. I am glad they had an opportunity to be part of such a historical event.

Too cold to be outside yesterday. Today is a nice change. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. It is time for me to take down the outside garland and wreaths. I have been procrastinating so tomorrow will be the day. Christmas and the New Year have come and gone. Time to move on.

Well, The Savvygardener Community has really taken off and if you have not had a chance to visit the site to join, don't wait a minute longer. I have had so many wonderful conversations with gardeners from all over the United States. It is so much fun to make new gardening friends. You can never have too many. There are so many opportunities for you to explore. Tell all of your friends. Soon spring will be here and you will know exactly where to go to ask for the advice you need. Don't forget to share your inspirations as well. There have been many beautiful pictures posted, comments made and questions asked. I highly recommend you get in on the fun!

~ Shelly   

Minimize Lawn Damage...
Looks like there's some more cold weather and snow on the way. It's a good time to remember that lawns and shrubs can be damaged by the various chemicals and salts we use to melt ice and snow. Savvygardeners can minimize the risk of damage by following a few simple steps when de-icing walks and driveways:

  1. Use an ice melting substitute or calcium chloride that is gentler on the landscape than salt.
  2. Before applying such a product, shovel off as much snow as possible.
  3. Apply the de-icing product down the middle of your sidewalk or driveway.
  4. Shovel any treated snow or ice into the street or driveway.  Any place but your lawn.


White Water...
While it generally takes 8 -10 inches of snow to equal just one-inch of rain you can maximize the irrigating effects of any snowfall with a little extra work. When you're shoveling the walks and driveway simply transfer that (untreated) snow to your garden beds. As it melts your gardens will benefit from the extra moisture.

Mulching Tea Roses...
It's not too late to provide winter care mulch for your tea roses. Mulching tea roses involves protecting the graft union of the plant, normally just at, or below, the soil level. The best and easiest way to protect the graft is with a mound of soil. The mound of garden soil should be six to eight inches, poured in a cone shape right over the center of the plant. This soil should not come from the surrounding plant, as this could damage the roots. It is best to bring soil in from another part of the garden or purchase a bag of topsoil from your favorite garden center.

A Gentler Approach To Houseplant Pests...
Insects on houseplants are a major pain. Not only are they hurting your plants but control measures using chemicals are pretty undesirable to a lot of homeowners. Here are three control approaches that minimize risk to you and your housemates.

  • Physically pick-off caterpillars, slugs, and other larger pests.
  • Swab pests with a small brush or cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. This method is feasible when plants are small and infestations very light. It is tedious and must be done once a week over a period of time.
  • Plants can also be washed in a diluted mixture of water and insecticidal soap, or gently spray-washed with lukewarm water.  Repeated washings over a period of time are necessary to gradually reduce infestations.  

If the infestation is severe, it may be preferable to discard the plant and replace it rather than attempt chemical control.


Care For Amaryllis...
This time of year our readers often ask about the ongoing care of an amaryllis received during the holidays.  Here are some quick tips:

  1. Remove any spent flowers after blooming.
  2. Place the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop.
  3. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy.
  4. Feed occasionally with a general purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Viability Verification...
So, you're getting ready to start some seeds indoors and don't know if last year's leftovers are still good. Well, you can start by checking the typical viability of 20 popular vegetable seeds in the table below:

Vegetable Viability
Vegetable Viability
Beans 3 Muskmelons 4-5
Broccoli 3-5 Peas 3
Brussels Sprouts 3-5 Peppers 2-3
Cabbage 3-4 Pumpkin 4-5
Carrots 3 Radish 5
Cauliflower 3-5 Spinach 5
Corn, Sweet 2 Squash, Summer 3-4
Cucumbers 5 Squash, Winter 4
Lettuce 5-6 Tomato 3-4
Lima Beans 3 Turnip 4-5

To be absolutely sure here's a trick we use to determine if seeds are still good:

  • Take ten seeds from the package and place them on a paper towel that you have moistened with warm water. 
  • Fold the paper towel over to cover the seeds.
  • Keep the towel moist and warm (on top of the fridge usually works for warmth) until they start to germinate. 
  • If less than six seeds (60%) germinate you might as well throw the rest away. 
  • If six or more germinate it will be worthwhile to plant the rest. 
  • Don't waste your test seeds!  The ones that germinate should be carefully moved to your preferred seedling container and cared for until ready for transplanting outdoors.


All Set For Onions...
Onions are one of the earliest crops that can be planted in the garden - late March in most of eastern and central Kansas. As they usually require 6 to 8 weeks of growing time before transplanting they should be started indoors now. Plant onion seeds fairly close together - to inches apart in a pot or flat filled with commercial seed starting mix.  (A lot of onion plants can be grown in a small area.) Place the container in a warm (75 to 80 F) location until the seedlings emerge. When the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall, move them to a cooler (60 to 65F) location with plenty of natural or artificial light. After the onion seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, apply a soluble fertilizer with each or alternate waterings. When they are 4 to 5 inches tall "give them a haircut" by trimming the ends of the leaves to produce a shorter, stockier plant. In early March, move the plants to an outdoor, protected location for a few weeks prior to actual transplanting.

"What I do know is that few satisfactions match having grown-up children who obviously share my belief that digging in the earth has, since Eden, been the best way of staying out of trouble and meanwhile experiencing sensual delights that beggar my powers of description."

~ Allen Lacy



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