~ March 10, 2010 ~
Up and Blooming...
It is hard for me to write today. I would much rather be outside with a rake or a pair of pruners
in my hand continuing what I started over the weekend. I had so much fun this past weekend doing
what I like to do. We didn't have a particularly busy schedule so I was allowed to putter around.
I cleaned out beds and examined perennials and shrubs for winter damage. Amazingly everything looks
pretty good. The lawn next to the curb and driveway will need some extra time to recover from snow
mold damage. There are a couple of areas that will need seed. Our daughter, on one of the many snowy
drove right on the lawn. She apologized knowing that once the snow melted someone would be asked,
"Who drove in the yard?" It is not easy living with a gardening crazed mother.
Isn't is amazing how many bulbs are
up and blooming? All it takes is a few days of warmer temperatures
and the ground starts to stir. Add a little rain to the equation and suddenly everything is a beautiful
shade of green. I love this time of year (in case you couldn't tell). It renews my spirit and well
being. I hope you all are enjoying it too!
Spring Lawns: To Seed or Not to Seed...
As spring approaches you will no doubt start inspecting your
lawn only to re-discover that it is less than perfect. Most of
us have bare spots or entire areas that are begging for new seed.
Reliable sources will tell you that spring is the second best
time of year to plant grass seed (the best time being fall).
What they don't tell you is that in this case second best may
not be good enough at all. We'll try to explain...
Fall is the best time to plant because seeds get the
double benefit of warm soil and cooler air temperatures. Fall
planted grass also establishes a strong root system even after
the grass blades have stopped growing for the season. By contrast
spring sown grass seed gets cool air temperatures but not
warm soil - making it tougher to germinate. In many cases the grass
is not established well enough to take the heat imposed on it by
the typical Kansas City summer. More often than not, your new grass
is toast by mid-July.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't plant new grass in the spring. You
just need to be aware of the risks. At our house we try to limit spring
grass seeding to small bare patches and hope for the best. For bigger
jobs consider contacting a professional lawn care company
(we use Ryan Lawn & Tree) to improve your
Thankfully most catalogs don't deliver your plant orders until it's
time to plant them. Unfortunately sometimes local conditions are
different than "usual" and your plants arrive a bit early for planting.
Don't panic, but don't ignore them either! Your mail-order plants do
need some care in the time between their arrival and your ability to
plant them. Unwrap them immediately and check for specific directions
on early care. Lacking this just keep them cool and moist in a protected
area until you can safely get them in the ground.
Plant By The Rules...
Planning on planting a tree (or two or three) this spring? Make sure you
do it right. That tree is supposed to be around for a long time. Our friends
at K-State Research & Extension recently published 10 Rules for Planting
Trees. Check it out here...
St. Pat's and Potatoes...
While it's traditional to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's
Day Savvygardeners should be aware of two assumptions made in
setting this date. First, that your soil is consistently 45º
or higher. The recent warm-up means sunny locations may be ready.
The second assumption is that the soil is dry enough to be
worked. Working in overly moist soil can make a mess that will
be hard to correct later. How can you tell? Grab a handful of soil
and squeeze. If it holds together like clay it's too wet. If it
crumbles like a cupcake it's ready for planting.
Watch the weather and your soil closely. You really want to get those
'taters planted between now and the end of March.
Vegetable Gardening Without A Garden...
If your outdoor space is limited, consider gardening without a garden.
Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and many other vegetables do well when grown
in containers. Barrels, window boxes, cut-off milk jugs, almost any
container that provides good drainage will do as long as it is deep
enough to support the plant. Minimum depths for some container-grown
- 4 inches - lettuce, radishes, beets, low-growing herbs
- 6 inches - chard, turnips, short-rooted carrots
- 8 inches - eggplant, peppers, bush cucumbers
- 10 inches - cauliflower, broccoli
- 12 inches - tomatoes, long-rooted carrots
Healthy Lawn Diet...
Though advertising for lawn fertilizers is at its yearly high, most lawns don’t
really need fertilizer now. Do not apply high rates of nitrogen (more than
0.75 lbs N/1000 sq. ft.) to your lawn from March through early May. Too much
nitrogen at this time of the year will lead to problems later this summer such
as poor root growth and disease. Additionally, since spring rains play havoc with
mowing schedules, nitrogen fertilization can further complicate your mowing schedule
by causing grass plants to grow too fast. Instead of applying fertilizer now, it
is better to wait until mid-to late-May and apply up to ¾ lbs N/1000 sq. ft.
with a fertilizer that contains mostly slow-release nitrogen.
The Old Heave Ho...
Temperatures have been jumping around a bit lately but a well deserved thaw in the
soil may be a permanent thing soon. Scout around your garden for signs of recent
heaving - the forcing of shallow-rooted plants out of the soil due to the
freezing and thawing of the ground. Don't tamp the plants or the surrounding soil
as this may overly compact the soil. Simply give them a gentle push back into place.
"The lawn holds great appeal, especially to Americans. It
looks sort of natural - it's green; it grows - but in fact it
represents a subjugation of the forest as utter and complete
as a parking lot. Every species is forcibly excluded from the
landscape but one, and this is forbidden to grow longer
than the owner's little finger. A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule."
~ Michael Pollan