~ May 20, 2009 ~
What A Week!
It has been one crazy week already. Our daughter Morgan is graduating from Shawnee Mission South High School
tonight and I have been readying the house and gardens for family and friends. Poor Kevin, he has had to put
up with a wide array of emotions. Noah, our son will also be graduating from the 6th grade at Westwood
View Elementary on Friday. I am trying to decide where the time has gone. I am sure at some point we all ask
ourselves that question. There will be tears and smiles of joy tonight and throughout the rest of this week.
What wonderful weather we're having! Could it be possible to have one whole week without rain? With all of the
activities we have going on I certainly have been thankful. I have accomplished so much in the gardens and I
must say everything looks great. It must be time to throw a party!
Even though we are well past any chance of a frost, I wanted to let you know about our newest method of updating
our readers about weather that could affect your gardens. Simply sign up to follow us on
Twitter and we'll
send you a text message when threatening weather is in the forecast.
Enjoy your long weekend... it may actually be dry.
Well, the unofficial start of summer is this weekend (Memorial Day).
As the real thing sneaks up on Kansas City gardeners we must prepare our gardens
for the heat and drought-like conditions that seem inevitable. Mulching your
garden is one of the best things you can do to help retain soil moisture and
keep weeds at bay.
Missouri Organic supplies us with lots of great
mulch for our gardens. Here are some common mulching materials and a few
thoughts on each:
Mulches are very common and effective. They are available
as chips, chunks, nuggets or shredded. In addition to being
generally attractive bark mulches resist compaction quite well.
Chips are also common, effective and economical. They can
deplete the soil of nitrogen however so additional fertilizing
may be required.
Needles are especially good around acid loving plants like
azaleas and blueberries.
is inexpensive and is often used in large vegetable gardens.
Make sure it is free of crop and weed seeds or you're just
making more work for yourself.
Clippings should only be used after they have dried out
thoroughly. If the source lawn has weeds your mulched garden
will likely get them too. Not too
can be attractive and effective but they don't provide any of
the decomposition benefits of organic mulches. Rock mulch in
direct sun can get quite hot causing problems for some tender
Plastic and Fabric aren't much to look at but they do keep
the weeds down.
As a general rule mulching with
anything is better than not mulching at all. It's that effective.
For an in-depth look at this important topic don't miss
All About Mulch in our Features section.
Is That Poison Ivy?...
Learning to identify poison ivy is vital if you wish to avoid the rash that
accompanies exposure. Unfortunately, poison ivy can make
identification difficult because it occurs in three forms: an
erect woody shrub, a groundcover that creeps along the ground,
and a woody vine that will climb trees. When poison ivy climbs,
it forms numerous aerial roots that gives the vine the appearance
of a fuzzy rope. The leaves of poison ivy also vary. Though the
compound leaf always has three leaflets, the leaf margins may be
toothed, incised, lobed or smooth. The size of the leaves can
also vary though usually the middle leaflet is larger than the
other two. Also, the middle leaflet is the only one with a long
stalk; the other two are closely attached to the petiole (leaf
stem). The number of leaves gives rise to the saying: "Leaves of
three, let it be!" Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia
creeper. Virginia creeper, however, has five leaflets rather than
Pests Attacking Annuals...
So, your newly planted annuals don't look so good. Chances are they are the
victims of any number of pests. Here are some of the most common problems and
some quick solutions:
If the leaves on your marigolds turn to "lace", earwigs or slugs
are probably nibbling on them at night. Spray with Sevin for
earwigs (best in late dusk after bees have stopped feeding).
To control slugs apply a product like Sluggo around the plant.
- Cutworms will eat off newly planted plants at the soil line. Add
aluminum foil collars to the stems to protect the plants from the worms.
- If aphids or spider mites are a problem, spray with insecticidal soap.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Pinch!
No, this isn't a race but if you start pinching back aster, garden phlox and
mums now you're sure to win later! Pinching back the blooms will encourage
bushier plants with more flowers. After some of your summer perennials have
tired out and are no longer blooming these plants will start to peak and will
add that much needed color to your garden. Soooo, no need to dust off the running
shoes for this race just limber up those thumbs and start pinching!
Why Plants Don't Always Bloom...
One of the most common questions we get asked is simply, "Why won't my plant bloom?"
Why indeed? There are often several factors involved but most can be explained by one
of the following circumstances:
- Age of Plant - Being too young or immature is a very common
reason that many trees do not flower. Plants need to reach a certain level
of maturity before they begin to flower each year.
- Shade - Lack of adequate light is another very common reason that
many types of plants do not flower. Plants may grow but not flower in the shade.
- Cold or Frost Injury - Cold weather may kill flower buds or
partially opened flowers. Plants that are not fully hardy in our area are the
most susceptible to this type of cold injury.
- Drought - Flowers or flower buds dry and drop off when there is temporary
lack of moisture in the plants.
- Improper Pruning - Some plants bloom only on last year’s wood. Pruning
plants at the wrong time of the year can remove the flower buds for next year’s
blossoms. Many spring flowering plants, such as azaleas begin setting next year’s
flower buds in the late spring. Pruning these plants in the summer or fall
may prevent flowering next year. Cutting back a plant severely, such as with climbing
roses, can remove all the flowering wood.
- Nutrient Imbalance - Too much nitrogen can cause plants to produce primarily
leaves and stems. The plant will be large and usually very green and healthy but will have
few or no flowers.
There are lots of good reasons to grow herbs. First on my list is for cooking.
Nothing compares to the taste of fresh herbs added to your favorite dish. I used to
buy pesto in a jar. I thought it was good until I started making my own from
garden-fresh basil. There's no going back folks.
If cooking is your goal make sure you do not fertilize your herbs too much. The
essential oils that provide flavor are more concentrated when herbs are grown in
moderately rich soil with just enough fertilizer to keep them green. Too much
fertilizer encourages the plant to grow large but at the sacrifice of less flavor.
To get greater quantities without sacrificing quality simply grow many more,
albeit smaller, plants.
Whether you have laid a full yard of sod or are just doing a little
(photo) you need to make
sure that your newly laid sod gets the right amount of water.
This means keeping it really wet (soupy) for the first week or
two. Ideally the sod and soil you are covering will be wet
to a depth of 3-4 inches. For a whole yard this means running
the sprinkler a lot. For patch work you can probably give
the area a good manual soaking 3-4 times a day. After two
weeks you should be able to back off the watering a bit,
providing the sodded area with a good soak each morning -
again it's important that the sod and soil stay wet. After four
weeks your sod should be established enough to live on a deep
watering 2-3 times a week.
"Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the
most potent and the least understood. Its effects can be either direct and immediate,
drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapour, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly
wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and colouring our thoughts."
~ Stephen Lacey