This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ A Heavy Load ~ Spring Dreams ~ Keep Off The Grass
~ De-Icer Damage ~ Sappy Trees ~ This Week's Photos
~ Belated Bulb Burial ~ Houseplant Help ~ Inspiration

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~ All About Composting
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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
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~ 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

~ January 6, 2010 ~

Back From The Tropics...
Thanks to all of you who graciously participated in talking about your New Year's resolutions on our Community site. If you have not had time to make your gardening resolution do so now! Just go to  to give us your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading them. Lots of good resolutions to live by. Mine is to make sure that next winter I am living somewhere warm :-)

Speaking of warmer weather, the Marsh family just returned from a seven-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. It was unbelievably beautiful! Our first stop was Turks and Caicos. I have never seen the color of water that I saw while visiting there. It was turquoise and the water was pleasantly warm. I tell you, I could have sat on the beach all day taking in the smells, sounds and the warmth of the sun. Our next stop was Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. We took a tour up into the mountains and I was consumed with all of the tropical plants, flowers and fruits. How cool it must be to step outside your own house to pick an orange, plantain or a handful of coffee beans. Next stop was St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It is hard to describe in words what we saw, so hopefully some of Kevin's pictures will help. Another beautiful destination. It was fun to be with the kids and to visit all of these wonderful places. Believe you me, when we stepped off the plane arriving back into Kansas City it was a bit of a shock.

Enough talk about tropical weather. It doesn't look as if we'll see anything close to that for some time... sadness. Just another nasty winter in Kansas. It's not as if I just moved here so I don't know what I am complaining about. I guess we have to make the best of it. Stay warm but don't be afraid to venture outside. As much as I hate the cold I always surprise myself when I have to take Sam Parker for a walk how beautiful it really is. Of course the temperatures are not -25į yet so maybe I should get back to you on how nice it is to be out walking in this winter wonderland.

~ Shelly   

A Heavy Load...
Certain evergreen shrubs, such as yew, juniper and arborvitae (northern white cedar) have a tendency to accumulate snow during snowfalls. The weight of the snow bends the branches of the shrubs, and can cause breakage or kinking. It is a good idea to remove most of the snow on these shrubs to reduce such damage. Do not, however, beat the shrubs with a snow shovel or other implement. Doing so will only cause additional damage. Use a broom or a brush and as gently as possible remove the snow from the upper surfaces. Donít be alarmed if the shrub does not immediately rebound to its former shape. It is likely that in the spring, when sap is flowing through the shrub, it will recover from any bending that may have occurred.

De-Icer Damage...
When ice and snow pile up it's not unusual to reach for a deicing agent to help melt the frozen stuff away.  Deicers work by lowering the freezing point of water, creating a brine (chemical-water solution) and allowing water to evaporate. The oldest and most common deicing agent is sodium chloride (rock salt), but calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride are also used. The damaging effects of these materials on plants come from their reducing the ability of plants to take up water and the effects may not show up until late spring or summer when water stresses begin to prevail so donít expect damage to be immediate.

Limited use of deicers and spreading the ice slush when scooping it away over a wide area will lessen potential damage. Heavy applications of water in the spring season can also flush salts downward through the soil.

Belated Bulb Burial...
If you're like me you were counting on warmer weather in December to finish your bulb planting. Between unpredictable weather and the crush of the holidays it just didn't get done. Here's a trick I've gotten used to using each year: Plant your bulbs now in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under a thick blanket of leaves. With luck the ground will thaw again this winter and we can use the opportunity to transplant them into the garden.

Spring Dreams...
These past few weeks of wintry weather have us dreaming about spring! It seems like a long way off on the calendar but guess what? There are several flowers whose seeds can be started this month! They include Begonia, Browallia, Geranium, Larkspur, Pansy and Vinca.  Check out When to Start Seeds Indoors for more details.

Sappy Trees...
If you have ever pruned trees in late winter to early spring, you may have noticed that some weep sap from fresh pruning wounds. Different species of trees vary in how easily and how much they "bleed." Those that are most susceptible to bleeding include maples (silver, sugar, amur, Norway and hedge), black walnut, pecan, birch, mulberry, Osage orange (hedge tree) and grape. Though bleeding may look as if it would cause considerable damage to the tree, that's not the case. Even if large amounts of sap are lost, there is no apparent long-term damage. However, many people find the appearance of this bleeding objectionable.  Pruning during the winter when temperatures remain below freezing will help minimize sap flow. So if you have any of the "bleeders" that need pruned, you might want to do it while the weather is really cold.


Houseplant Help...
This month is a good time to remember your houseplants. If any of them are getting too big for their pots simply divide them and re-pot. While you are at it give them some TLC by doing the following:

  • Prune judiciously. A light trim is usually sufficient.
  • Check for bugs. Aphids and other critters can usually be eradicated with some insecticidal soap.
  • Make sure the low winter sun isn't hurting your plants placed near windows. You can relocate them or simply rotate them periodically if necessary.
  • A different window related problem may be the cold. Leaves don't like touching cold glass.
  • If your house is really dry (like mine) make sure you mist your plants occasionally.

Keep Off The Grass...
When temperatures plummet your grass will respond by moving water to areas outside the cells. Ice accumulates in spaces between the cells and individual grass blades become brittle. Walking on frozen turf will force the ice and cells together and can cause permanent damage to your lawn. Do your best to avoid it.

"Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on
silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, were children once again."

~ Bill Morgan Jr.



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