This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Bulb Boosters ~ Clematis Wilt ~ Dealing With Dandelions
~ Growing Groundcovers ~ Rejuvenate Forsythia, Lilac ~ This Week's Photos
~ A Clean Break ~ Lawn Mowing Safety ~ 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

~ April 15, 2009 ~

What's Not To Like?
Two straight days of sunshine - we are on a roll! Today is partly cloudy but warmer nonetheless. Although I hiss and complain about being cooped up inside during all of those cold, rainy days, I look outside today and I am totally in awe of the beauty. The trees in bloom, the color of the grass (could it be any greener?) the tulips, the daffodils, the hyacinth. This is what we wait for. Some more patiently than others, but when I step outside on days like yesterday and today I could not be any happier. The sun fills a spot in my soul that cannot be filled by anything else. There really is no explanation needed because there are so many of you who know exactly what I am talking about. The sun completes me :-)

It looks as if we have a couple, maybe three days to get outside and get some work done before our next chance of rain. I was outside all day yesterday just doing clean-up. I cut back perennials, removed leaves and more leaves from beds and after having the opportunity to be out all day long, came in before dinner satisfied that I had completed a days worth of good work. What a sense of accomplishment. I am very particular and will not make any excuses for being so. When you come to my gardens there will not be any leaves lying around. The grass edges have been hand clipped and the pruning is an ongoing process. I do these things because they make me happy. They also make my gardens look great and in the end when I am outside and someone walks by and says, "What lovely gardens you have!" I will grin and reply, "Thank you" and that is what motivates me. How could it not?

~ Shelly   

Bulb Boosters...
This current round of warm weather will certainly accelerate most of the area's flowering spring bulbs. Our daffodils and tulips (photos) are hanging in there but, like most others in Kansas City, will soon be gone and won't be seen again until next spring. If you want to get the most out of them next spring you need to help them a little right now.

Bulbs use their foliage to acquire and transport nutrients necessary for future growth. If you cut or remove the foliage too early you will starve the bulb and consequently reduce its chances for strong growth next spring. Cut the stems back as you would if you were cutting them for a vase. Leave the foliage alone until it has withered on its own. Only then should you clear it from the garden.

Growing Groundcovers...
You can trim pachysandra and other low groundcovers by mowing them with your lawnmower (video)
. Set the mowing height at around three to four inches. This will thicken the groundcover and help prevent weeds. Be sure to remove the clippings by gently raking. Boston ivy, English ivy, purple winter creeper, and cranberry cotoneaster all benefit from springtime trimming.

A Clean Break...
When transplanting flowers and veggies to the garden make sure you break off the rims of your peat pots just below ground level. Any portion of the peat pot sticking up above the soil surface will wick away moisture and deprive your plants of much needed water. That would be a shame considering how hard you worked getting them this far!

Clematis Wilt...
The most serious disease of clematis is commonly called clematis wilt - a stem rot/leaf spot disease caused by the fungus, Ascochyta clematidina, which mainly affects large-flowered clematis hybrids. The symptoms are very defining and include sudden stem collapse, often just as the flower buds are about to open. Within just a few days the stems and its leaves turn black. Leaf veins often develop a purple coloration. One or more stems of the diseased plant may be affected or all aboveground parts of the plant can be killed down to just below the soil level.

Often, an affected plant will recover after a year or two. Of course, prevention is the best medicine. Here's how:

  1. Choose a favorable planting site with 6 or more hours of sun daily, rich, well-drained soil with pH about 7.0, and be relatively open to ensure good air circulation.
  2. Select the most resistant plants. Species clematis and/or small-flowered hybrids seem to be more resistant than large-flowered forms.
  3. Keep the clematis area free of plant debris on a year-round basis. Take special care to avoid injury to stem and roots since the wilt fungus requires a wound to begin its deadly work.
  4. Avoid damaging the roots. Do not cultivate the soil around clematis plants and maintain good mulch.
  5. Give good culture. Maintain good growing conditions to keep all clematis plants as stress-free as possible.
  6. In the event that plants become infected, cut diseased stems just below ground level and destroy them. Spray any remaining, healthy parts of the plant and surrounding soil with a protective fungicide such as myclobutanil.


Rejuvenate Forsythia, Lilac...
This time of year we are asked by many gardeners why their forsythia or lilacs look so bad. Many claim that some of their flowering branches look great while other branches of the same plant have virtually no flowers at all. This is actually a very common problem with forsythia, lilacs and other flowering shrubs. Basically they have become too "woody" and need rejuvenation. Simply cut the tired branches to a point just above ground level.  Next year's growth will include many more flowers.

To stay on top of this process Savvygardeners will rejuvenate one-third of the flowering shrub every year. That way none of the branches are ever any older than three years.

Lawn Mowing Safety...
Gas-powered lawn mowers may be the most dangerous tool regularly used around the home. They create hot exhaust fumes. Their blades spin 2,000 to 4,000 times per minute and can turn small toys and garden debris into deadly missiles. According to K-State University Research and Extension, U.S. safety experts estimate lawn mower accidents severely injure 75,000 people every year. The minor accidents could easily number in the millions.

Here are two very good safety tips to follow:

  • Before mowing, search the yard - every time. Look for small objects that may be hidden from obvious view. Most lawn mower blades run at 100 to 200 miles per hour. So, if one hits a rock, wire, acorn or stick, that object can become deadly: both airborne and fast as the wink of an eye.
  • Do not mow when anyone else is in the vicinity of the mower itself and any projectiles it may create.

More lawn mower safety tips can be found here...

Dealing With Dandelions...
We're getting lots of e-mail asking about weeds (especially dandelions) in lawns. Keep in mind two things:

  1. Dense healthy turf is the most effective weed control. Proper mowing, fertilization, and irrigation will go a long way toward controlling weeds.
  2. Fall is the best time to control weeds.

That being said, you can spot-apply broad spectrum herbicides to lawn weeds. Just be careful where you spray. Drifting herbicides are going to damage or kill all the plants they touch.

"There is no royal road. It is no use asking me or any one else how to dig - I mean sitting indoors and asking it. Better go and watch a man digging, and then take a spade and try to do it, and go on trying until it comes, and you gain the knack that is to be learnt with all tools, of the doubling of power and halving the effort; and meanwhile you will be learning other things, about your arms and legs and back... and you will find out there are all sorts of ways of learning, not only from people and books, but from sheer trying."

~ Gertrude Jekyll



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