~ May 13, 2009 ~
Catkins, and Peonies, and Storms...
So, are you as tired of all the catkins falling from the oaks as I am?
Catkins are the brownish-yellow, tassel looking matter that is presently
everywhere. In the yard, all over flowers, trees, flying about in the
air, floating around in our fountain. These catkins are important as
they help with the production of acorns. Catkins are the first things
that bud out as the oak tree leafs out. They are short lived and people
like me, who can't stand to see a leaf lying around, really find this
very, very messy. I have raked, swept and bagged tons (OK, maybe not tons)
of this stuff to be tossed into the compost pile. Not only is it messy
but it also makes me sneeze. The good news is that the cycle is short
lived (so they say) so we should be rid of the catkins soon!
It must be May. The iris and peonies are in bloom. Memorial Day weekend
is just a few days away so if you are trying to hang onto those peonies
pick-up some extra tips in our Feature Article,
Peonies - A New Old Favorite.
Good information about peonies in general. It truly is a beautiful flower
and the smell is out of this world.
We seem to be getting our fair share of rain these days. I am not complaining.
We recently laid some sod and we haven't had to water it as much as I thought
we were going to. Thanks for the helping hand Mother Nature. It sounds
as if we might have an opportunity for severe storms this evening. I would be
lying if I said I wasn't a little excited. I do love storms. Lightning, thunder,
wind - all of Mother Nature's emotions. Scary and thrilling all at the same time.
I will hope for excitement but no damage, and if we get some rain, well I guess
that will be a bonus, especially for the sod.
We're Cookin' Now...
If you are a cook as well as a Savvygardener one of the great
joys of summer is stepping outside to pick or cut fresh herbs for
preparing a fine meal In addition to their obvious use in
foods herbs are great additions to most gardens because they are
generally pest resistant, smell great, and many are a joy to
Conveniently, most herbs have similar growing habits and requirements.
Because their essential oils are much more concentrated under
cool growing conditions you will want to locate them in a cool
but sunny area which receives at least 4 to 6 hours of full sun
each day. Areas exposed to the morning sun are better than those
areas with mid-day and afternoon sun.
If you didn't start any herbs from seed buy some healthy looking plants
from your favorite plant source. However anise, coriander,
dill and fennel aren't too fond of being transplanted. Sow
their seeds directly in the garden.
For a list of over 30 herbs and specific details about growing them check
Growing Herbs in our Feature Article section.
Winning By Thinning...
A bountiful vegetable patch requires thinning when crops are
grown from seed. Be aware that vegetables behave like weeds when
they are overabundant. Overcrowding among root crops causes
poorly formed roots. A good thinning program will:
- Reduce the
competition among seedlings for soil nutrients and water.
- Promote better
air circulation around the plants thereby reducing the chances
of disease development.
- Ultimately make
higher yields possible.
Here's a list
of common garden vegetables and recommendations for their spacing.
Zoysia lawns are finally looking good all around the metro. Now
that they are greening up and growing you will want to make sure
you do the following:
- Reduce thatch
layers from zoysia by verticutting or core aerating.
- Sod or sprig
zoysia lawns to fill in bare areas.
- Fertilize zoysia
lawns with high nitrogen to promote green up and summer
- Mow zoysia to 2
to 2.5 inches tall.
Getting Antsy About Aphids...
When you see ants crawling on your garden plants, look
closely for aphids as well. Some ant species protect
aphids, moving them from plant to plant and even taking
them underground into the anthill for overnight safety
(seriously!). The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew,
a sugary water substance secreted by aphids, on which ants feed.
Vine Crop Villains...
Savvygardeners need to be vigilant for the two most
destructive insect foes of vine crops - the cucumber beetle and
the squash bug. Cucumber beetles, like most vegetable insects
must be controlled early to prevent damage to the seedling and
transmission of diseases like bacterial wilt. Planting a trap
crop, applying neem oil soap and using row covers are effective
non-chemical methods to manage this insect pest. Squash bugs can
be repelled with insecticidal soap in addition to garlic and
Miners Not Allowed...
Many species of boxwood are attacked by the boxwood leaf
miner, whose activity becomes very noticeable in mid spring.
American boxwood is particularly susceptible. Blister like orange
spots are a sign of the larvae of this insect, which hides
between the leaf surfaces and feeds there until it emerges. The
adults, orange in color and gnat-like, are easily controlled with
a pyrethroid insecticide. Heavier infestations should be treated
with a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid.
Dull Blades = Brown Blades...
Have you ever noticed your grass turning brown at the tips
several days after mowing? A quick look under the mowing deck
might explain it all. Chances are, your mower blade is not
sufficiently sharp. A quick visit to the local hardware
store will fix the problem for about $5.
Remember to sharpen your mower blade several times each season.
It's even a good idea to keep a spare blade on hand. That way you
always have a sharp one.
"My little plot", said Miss Mapp. "Very modest, as you see,
three quarters of an acre at the most, but well screened.
My flower beds sweet roses, tortoiseshell butterflies. Rather
a nice clematis. My little Eden, I call it, so small, but so
~ E. F. Benson