~ April 29, 2009 ~
Spring Fever, Hay Fever...
Eww... I hate the way pollen covers everything this time of year. I truly dislike the powdery green
film that is on everything you touch. It makes me cringe and it also makes my eyes water and nose
itch. Allergies are prevalent at this house so keeping the windows closed is what we do. We have
already turned on the air conditioning (sadness) but really have no other option. If we were to
open the windows the pollen would be inside, covering everything and making us all miserable. Spring
is a great time of year but there are portions of the season that we find difficult to get through.
Great news! After 10 years of publishing Savvygardener.com we have just reached our 7,000th subscriber!
Kevin and I are thrilled and have to thank all of you for telling everyone you know about us. If you
still have friends who don't know about us it is not too late. It is the perfect time of the year to let
all of your gardening friends know about our newsletter as well as
the Savvygardener Community. Timely, gardening
advice. Who doesn't need that?
OK, this needs to be said. We have had plenty of rain, so why in the world would anyone be watering? You
might be surprised that I would mention such a thing but I am totally shocked when I drive around watching
people water after receiving almost 2 inches of rain just three days ago. Now, if you own a irrigation system
and you have had it turned on, great. You will certainly need it later. However if someone has turned it on
for you and has set it to run on certain days, you need to learn how to manually turn it off. We are
supposed to get rain for the next couple of days which will be more than enough for our gardens and lawns this
time of the year. We need to remember that water is a precious resource and we cannot be wasting it! Oh, I feel so much better :)
Hot Topic - Invasives
This week we started a new discussion forum on the Savvygardener Community.
Across the Fence - Hot Topics in Gardening. This week's topic is invasive plants.
Some invasive plants are worse than others. Many invasive plants continue to be admired by
gardeners who may not be aware of their weedy nature. Others are recognized as weeds but
property owners fail to do their part in preventing their spread. Some do not even become
invasive until they are neglected for a long time. Invasive plants are not all equally invasive.
Some only colonize small areas and do not do so aggressively. Others may spread and come to
dominate large areas in just a few years.
Which invasives should we worry about?
What are a gardener's responsibilities when it comes to invasives?
Who decides what's an invasive and what's a unique garden plant?
Please join the discussion on these and related questions
Across the Fence...
Oh Say Can You Sow?
Gardeners all across the metro will be out this weekend
buying bedding plants, vegetable seedlings, and all manner of
transplants for the garden. Keep in mind that some plants
actually prefer to have their seeds sown directly in the garden.
vegetables these include: beans, beets, carrots, celery,
peas, squash, and turnips.
- Among flowers:
alyssum, aster, bachelor's button, cosmos, marigold, morning
glory, sunflower, sweet pea, and zinnia.
seeds, read the directions, watch them grow!
Why Lilacs Don't Bloom...
There's nothing quite as frustrating as an otherwise healthy
lilac bush that just won't bloom. It's a common problem and here's a rundown of the most common reasons:
Excess shade is the most likely culprit when lilacs fail to
bloom well. Lilacs bloom best in full sunlight, or at least a half day
sun. Anything less will mean fewer flowers developing. When they're in
a location that's shaded all day, lilacs rarely bloom at all.
Any pruning should be done
right after the flowers fade in spring. If you wait until
mid- to late summer to do it, you may not see many flowers the following year. That's because the flower buds for the
following year are set shortly after the plant is through blooming.
Lilacs don't need fertilizer
to make them bloom. In fact, an abundance of nutrients, especially nitrogen,
encourages the lilac to make a lot of leafy, vegetative growth – which
may come at the expense of flower bud development.
Lilacs grow best in well-drained soil. While wet,
poorly-drained soil isn't directly associated with lack of blooms, it
is associated with plants that develop roots or generally fail to
thrive. If you have a young lilac in a low lying moist location,
transplant it to a more favorable site if at all possible.
Ants In Your...
Not your pants, but your peonies! If you have peonies you no
doubt have noticed a proliferation of ants scurrying to and fro
across the flower buds. Those ants are the source of many "old
gardener's tales" that have been handed down over the ages.
Here's the deal: The ants are there because of the nectar-like
substance secreted by the peony. Chances are that the ants you
see on your peonies are already living in your garden - the
peonies just draw them out of the soil and make them more
visible. In other words, peonies are not increasing your local
ant population (which creepily number in the hundreds of
thousands or more). Some say that the ants actually help peonies
bloom. Most experts disagree but since they do no harm it's best
to just let them enjoy your peonies as much as you do.
Cutworms can be a real problem for gardeners setting out transplants.
Protect your newly transplanted plants with collars. Simply cut
strips of cardboard 2-inches wide by 8-inches long and staple them into
a band. Place this collar around the plant stem and press it about
1-inch into the soil. Simple and very effective!
There's nothing quite as refreshing as the feeling of walking barefoot on
a dew-covered lawn first thing in the morning. Nothing will ruin that feeling
faster than stepping on a big ol' slimy slug. Aesthetically these guys have
no redeeming properties at all. They can wreak havoc on your garden as well.
Young slugs will damage your plants by rasping away the surface of plant
leaves for food. They can eat 30 to 40 times their weight every day!
The adults chew holes in leaves and leave slime trails on your precious plants.
If you don't already have a favorite and effective way to control slugs try these
- Slugs like
the dark and damp. Place a board over damp ground for a
hiding place during the day. Check each morning and destroy
any slugs that have gathered on the bottom of the board.
- Slugs are
attracted to and drown in shallow dishes containing beer. Set
the top edges of the dish at ground level and cover loosely
with a board so slugs can easily get into the brew.
- If you don't
like the idea of killing slugs you can try physical barriers,
Slugs will not cross rough surfaces. Sprinkle ashes or special
slug barriers around the perimeter of the garden. Stay on top
of this method however. If rain, wind, or anything else sweeps
the barrier away you can count on the slugs exploiting the breach
in your defenses.
The Turfgrass Two-Step...
Most of us are creatures of habit. When it comes to mowing your
lawn you probably follow the same back and forth pattern every
time you cut the grass. Unfortunately this regular practice will
eventually wear ruts in the lawn where the mower wheels
repeatedly follow the same path. To avoid this problem try a
four-way rotation of cutting patterns. Picture your lawn as a
sheet of paper and try these patterns. Next week - tango
Horizontal - left-to-right, turn, right-to-left across
Vertical - top-to-bottom, turn, bottom-to-top across
Diagonal 1 - bottom-left to top-right, turn, top-right
to bottom-left. Work toward corners.
Diagonal 2 - bottom-right to top-left, turn, top-left
to bottom-right. Work toward corners.
"The flower-arranger who is not a gardener should never be
let loose with a knife or scissors out of doors, particularly
~ Maureen and Bridget Boland