This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Ready, Set, Wait ~ Rosy Days Ahead ~ Well Oiled Fruit Trees
~ Clipping Clematis ~ Do Not Disturb ~ Better Spreaders
~ Relief For The Root-Bound   ~ Inspiration

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Feature Articles

~ All About Composting
~ All About Mulch
~ Worm Composting
~ Houseplant Care
~ When to Start
Seeds Indoors
~ Seed Starting Indoors
~ Vegetable Garden Calendar
~ Seed Starting Tomatoes


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
~ More...
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This Week's Photos

~ March 17, 2010 ~

I found my quote for this week to be so true. March is such a month of uncertainty. A few warm days, a lot of rainy days and who knows, maybe even some snowy days. It is hard to resist the temptation to plant when the temperature hits the 50's and 60's. There is a trigger in my mind that says, "Wow, it is so warm, why don't I get a jump on planting". There are many things that will tolerate the cooler temperatures and one of my favorites is the pansy. I am in such desperate need of color in my life. Bright, yellows, purples and lavenders. It is the pansy that sustains me until it is time to plant warm weather annuals. If you have never tried planting pansies, do so this spring. You will be delighted!

Another thing to expect with March is the temperature roller coaster. Warm one day, freezing (literally) cold the next. It can be quite dreadful and frustrating. Covering and uncovering of bulbs to keep them alive. But, it is the way of the Kansas land and if you have lived here long enough you have trained yourself to not get overly excited... right, whatever! How can you not be excited by warmer days and days where it is lighter later? After all of these years as a Kansas native I still ask myself those questions and the same answer always applies. I will always be excited when March arrives. Spring is around the corner and I will be free from the confines of my house. That feeling, my dear gardening friends, will never change for me.

~ Shelly   

Ready, Set, Wait...
This time of year it's pretty common for garden soils to be wet, wet, wet. Unfortunately time is rapidly approaching for spring planting. Although you may be tempted to work wet soil, remember that there are some serious consequences. Soil structure can be destroyed, forming large clods that take weeks or months to break up with natural weathering. Use of a rototiller is especially damaging in soils that are too wet. A gentle spading will cause the least soil damage but is still a risky proposition. It is better to delay planting a few days or weeks than to try to till wet soils.

Clipping Clematis...
Clematis can be a confusing group of plants to prune, since they are not all pruned the same way.  In fact there are three methods that can be applied to major groups depending on the time of year the plant flowers.  The earliest flowering clematis bloom on old wood, while later flowering types must produce new growth in order for flower buds to form.  Prune carefully, since vines are usually well entangled.  The complete directions are a bit long to fit in this space so we published them in our Features section.  Check out Pruning Clematis...

Relief For The Root-Bound...
Judging when a houseplant needs a new, larger pot is mostly a matter of roots, according to Kansas State University Research and Extension horticulturist Chip Miller. Many container-grown plants need a new home every year. But some grow so slowly that relocating every two or three years can be enough. "To check whether plants are becoming root-bound, you need to knock them out of their pot. If you water several hours before trying this, you'll be able to remove the plant more easily," Miller said.

He recommends two approaches to this dislocation:

  • For plants in pots that are 8 inches wide or smaller, place one hand over the top of the pot with the plant's stem passing between two fingers. Turn pot and plant upside down, and rap the edge of the pot against a table. The root ball should come away from the pot and into your hand.
  • For larger combinations, place the pot on its side and rap its edge with a rubber mallet. Roll the pot a few degrees and repeat the rapping. Continue the procedure until the root ball "releases" and you can slide the pot down.

"If you then see a clear network of roots, the plant needs to be moved into a larger pot," Miller said. "The new pot should be just 1 inch wider if the plant was small enough to remove into your hand. It can be 2 inches wider if the plant's old container was at least 10 inches wide."

Rosy Days Ahead...
Now that we are well past mid-March it's time to start thinking about roses. Actually we can start doing something too! Now is a good time to plant bare-root roses and give existing roses some TLC. Got roses? Read Getting Started on the Growing Season.

Do Not Disturb...
All around Kansas City, bulbs are popping up everywhere.  I'll bet yours are too!  Look closely at your bulb beds.  Are there weeds popping up as well?  If so remove the weeds by gentle hand pulling.  Removal with a cultivator or other weeding tool may disturb the bulbs unnecessarily.

Well Oiled Fruit Trees...
Savvygardeners with fruit trees will soon be applying horticultural oils to fruit trees to reduce certain pests. These oils are not poisons. Instead, the thin film of oil covers the target insect or mite and plugs the spiracles or pores through which it breathes. Pine needle scale, oystershell scale, euonymus scale, aphids, spider mites and small pine sawfly larvae are all effectively controlled by this method.

Proper timing is critical for success when using oils. Dormant oils should be applied in late March or April before leaves or flowers show signs of breaking dormancy. A common mistake is to apply 'dormant' oil sprays too early (on the first warm day in February or March) before insects are actively respiring and susceptible to the oil's suffocating effects. Wait until as close to bud break as possible before applying oil sprays. Also make sure temperatures will be above 40į for at least 24 hours.

Better Spreaders...
Whether it's lawn seed, fertilizer, or weed killer chances are you're going to use a spreader for the job eventually. But what kind? Drop or broadcast? Well, there's several things to keep in mind before you pick one. Generally if both spreaders are of equal quality, a drop spreader usually will provide better accuracy. However, a high-quality rotary will be more accurate than a lower-quality drop spreader. There are these differences to consider as well:

Drop spreaders meter out the fertilizer and drop it directly on the lawn. A drop spreader is best if:

  • You have a small lawn.
  • Doing the job as precisely as possible is most important to you. 
  • You donít mind taking a bit longer to apply products to your lawn. 

Rotary spreaders meter out the fertilizer and throw the granules in a swath up to several feet wide. A rotary spreader is best if:

  • You have a very large lawn. 
  • You like to get the job done as quickly as possible.
  • You do not have flower beds or gardens in the middle of your lawn.

"March is a month of considerable frustration - it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away."

~ Thalassa Cruso



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