This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Gaining Traction ~ Winterize Power Tools ~ Living Christmas Trees
~ Preventing Snow Mold ~ Illuminating Houseplant Help ~ This Week's Photos
~ Acid Test ~ Two Out Of Three Wise Men ~ Inspiration

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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
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Seeds Indoors
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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
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This Week's Photos

~ December 16, 2009 ~

Six Days 'til Winter...
Looking at the calendar, Winter will officially arrive in six days. Hooray, we really haven't see quite enough cold weather yet. Note the sarcasm in the last sentence? Let's see... it was a blistering 21 yesterday and we really warmed up today. Odd how when the temperatures are hovering in the high 30's to low 40's that it feels as if a heat wave has set in. You actually step outside and say, "Well, this is not too bad, it almost feels warm". Of course it's not bad when you compare it to sub zero temperatures. Grrrr... that is me growling due to my deep dislike of cold weather. I have a bad feeling about this winter. Give me strength!

Shopping, shopping, shopping! We are getting down to the wire. Christmas is quickly approaching so don't forget to buy your favorite gardener a gift they can use all year long. A shovel, trowel, rake, gloves (you get the idea). I love those types of gifts even though now is not the perfect time to use them. Garden decor is another great gift idea. Who doesn't love wandering through a garden coming upon a hidden bird bath, stones etc..? Visit your local garden center or nursery. I think you'll be surprised by all of the wonderful gift ideas they have for the gardener on your list.

~ Shelly   

Gaining Traction...
Here's an interesting use for wood ash that our friend Mark Bartlow of Ryan Lawn & Tree learned from a customer in Shawnee a few years ago. Traction aid on ice! Apparently this particular customer had a long, steep gravel drive that Mark and his crew were able to get into but not out of with their chipper truck. They were stuck, but instead of calling a tow truck their customer breaks out her lawn spreader and a bucket of wood ash, and proceeds to spread it over the trouble spots. To their surprise and relief they drove out like there was no ice at all!

Great story and good advice!

Preventing Snow Mold...
Last week's snow found some of us with a fair amount of unraked leaves on the ground. Don't leave them there! First on your "to do" list once the snow melts - rake up those leaves. It's just not healthy for the turf to have wet leaves smothering it all winter. Additional snows that may have greater longevity (on top of those unraked leaves) can lead to snow mold - a possibility and it is best avoided.

Acid Test...
Mulching your perennials is very important in wintertime. If possible mulch the root zones of your azaleas and rhododendrons with oak leaves, shredded oak bark or pine needles. Each will add a little bid of acidity to the delight of these acid-loving plants.

Winterize Power Tools...
Power tools and other gas-powered equipment need winterizing before being put away for the season. Here are some basics:

  • Oil should be changed and moving parts lubricated.
  • Fuel systems should either be drained or have a gas stabilizing additive mixed into the fuel.

These simple steps will help ensure a longer lasting machine as well as a better chance of a successful "cold-start" next spring.

Illuminating Houseplant Help...
To keep your houseplants healthy you may need to compensate for the short days and long nights of winter. Try moving them closer to windows but make sure their foliage doesn't actually touch the cold window. Supplemental lighting is another option.  Light units containing special grow lights can be purchased from mail-order companies or at garden centers. You can also build your own lighting structure. A standard fluorescent unit containing one cool white 40 watt tube and one warm white 40 watt tube provides adequate light for most houseplants. Plants should be placed within 6 to 12 inches of the lights for maximum benefit.


Two Out Of Three Wise Men Recommend...
The holiday season is full of traditions involving the plants we grow. Wreaths, mistletoe, Christmas trees, the list goes on. How about frankincense and myrrh? What is that stuff anyway? Well, they are both resins - dried tree sap - that come from trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrrh). The way that people collect the sap is similar to the way people collect rubber tree sap or pine tree sap. Cutting the tree's bark causes the sap to ooze out of the cut. The sap used to create both of these famous resins comes slowly and is allowed to dry on the tree. Both in the time of the three wise men and today, frankincense and myrrh are most commonly used to create incense.

Living Christmas Trees...
A number of Americans have gotten into the habit of decorating for the season with a living, "renewable" Christmas Tree. If you are among those planning on using a living Christmas Tree this year you should keep a few things in mind:

  1. Plan to keep the tree in the home for as short a time as possible. The maximum time in the house should be five to seven days; the longer it is kept in the house, the greater the risk of failure. If kept inside too long, the tree begins to grow and is damaged or killed when planted outside in the cold temperatures.
  2. Remember the tree will need adequate water inside the home. The soil ball or pot should be kept moist but not wet; wrap the soil ball or pot in plastic or place in a tub while it is in the house to avoid damaging the floor or carpet. Check the soil ball or pot daily, and water when it becomes dry.
  3. Locate it away from heat sources such as fireplaces, registers, wood stoves, and space heaters. Decorate with care; avoid heat producing lights, flocking or artificial snow. Use cool lights and avoid causing damage to the tree with heavy ornaments or decorations.
  4. After Christmas, remove the decorations and move the tree back to the cool but non-freezing storage location for three or four days to gradually acclimate it to cooler temperatures. Again, do not allow the soil ball or pot to freeze during this acclimation period.
  5. After the acclimation period, plant the tree in the pre-dug and mulched hole using good tree planting techniques. Remove the pot or as much of the burlap as possible without disturbing the root system. Firm the soil around the root system, water well and mulch heavily with straw or composted wood chips over and beyond the planting area to minimize soil temperature fluctuations.


"Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer. "

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh



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