This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Catkins Fever ~ Ants In Your... ~ The Turfgrass Two-Step
~ Oh Say Can You Sow? ~ Cutworms Collared ~ This Week's Photos
~ Why Lilacs Don't Bloom ~ Ugh, Slugs ~ Inspiration

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~ 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
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This Week's Photos

~ April 28, 2010 ~

Crazy, Isn't It?
It is hard to keep the garden clean this time of year. The Oak catkins have covered the ground with tassels and now thousands of helicopters are falling from the maples. In our backyard it looks as is someone shot thousands of them from a cannon, each landing differently in the grass. The blustery winds we are experiencing today sure do not help with the clean-up process. I am hoping for a calmer day tomorrow. I did have the opportunity to work outside all day yesterday. I was so glad to be out since I've been inside side-lined with severe allergies. I worked so late into the evening that I had to make myself quit once the house lights came on. I mowed, cut a few things back, gathered leaves and edged. I edge with grass clippers so it takes a little longer than using one of those string trimmers. I can never seem to get the look I want with string trimmers. I like a line that is very well defined and manicured. I'm a bit reckless with the string trimmer always scalping a few areas of grass. Grass clippers are tedious to some but more manageable for me.

Have you noticed that there are lots of peonies in the area already in bloom? For those of you who like to have some for Memorial Day, cut them now and keep them in a cooler or refrigerator to keep the buds nice and tight. It is hard to believe that peonies typically are in bloom from mid to late May. Here it is the last week in April and so many flowers that don't bloom until May, maybe even June are already in bloom. Crazy isn't it?

We have had plenty of rain and more is forecast for the weekend. I guess April showers do bring May flowers!

~ Shelly   

Catkins Fever...
Many, many gardeners are asking about the brownish-yellow, tassel looking matter that is presently everywhere. In the yard, all over flowers, trees, flying about in the air, floating around in our fountain. These are catkins and are essential to the production of acorns. Catkins are the first things that bud out as the oak tree leafs out. They are short lived and obviously quite messy. The good news is that the catkins' cycle is short lived and they'll be gone soon. In the meantime simply sweep, rake, or mow them up and add them to your compost pile!

Oh Say Can You Sow?
Gardeners all across the metro will be out this weekend buying bedding plants, vegetable seedlings, and all manner of transplants for the garden.  Keep in mind that some plants actually prefer to have their seeds sown directly in the garden.

  • Among vegetables these include: beans, beets, carrots, celery, peas, squash, and turnips.
  • Among flowers: alyssum, aster, bachelor's button, cosmos, marigold, morning glory, sunflower, sweet pea, and zinnia.

Buy the seeds, read the directions, watch them grow!

Why Lilacs Don't Bloom...
There's nothing quite as frustrating as an otherwise healthy lilac bush that just won't bloom. It's a common problem and here's a rundown of the most common reasons:

  • Shade
    Excess shade is the most likely culprit when lilacs fail to bloom well. Lilacs bloom best in full sunlight, or at least a half day sun. Anything less will mean fewer flowers developing. When they're in a location that's shaded all day, lilacs rarely bloom at all.
  • Pruning
    Any pruning should be done right after the flowers fade in spring. If you wait until mid- to late summer to do it, you may not see many flowers the following year. That's because the flower buds for the following year are set shortly after the plant is through blooming.
  • Nutrients
    Lilacs don't need fertilizer to make them bloom. In fact, an abundance of nutrients, especially nitrogen, encourages the lilac to make a lot of leafy, vegetative growth which may come at the expense of flower bud development.
  • Moisture
    Lilacs grow best in well-drained soil. While wet, poorly-drained soil isn't directly associated with lack of blooms, it is associated with plants that develop roots or generally fail to thrive. If you have a young lilac in a low lying moist location, transplant it to a more favorable site if at all possible.


Ants In Your...
Not your pants, but your peonies! If you have peonies you no doubt have noticed a proliferation of ants scurrying to and fro across the flower buds. Those ants are the source of many "old gardener's tales" that have been handed down over the ages. Here's the deal: The ants are there because of the nectar-like substance secreted by the peony. Chances are that the ants you see on your peonies are already living in your garden - the peonies just draw them out of the soil and make them more visible. In other words, peonies are not increasing your local ant population (which creepily number in the hundreds of thousands or more). Some say that the ants actually help peonies bloom. Most experts disagree but since they do no harm it's best to just let them enjoy your peonies as much as you do.

Cutworms Collared...
Cutworms can be a real problem for gardeners setting out transplants. Protect your newly transplanted plants with collars. Simply cut strips of cardboard 2-inches wide by 8-inches long and staple them into a band. Place this collar around the plant stem and press it about 1-inch into the soil. Simple and very effective!

Ugh, Slugs...
There's nothing quite as refreshing as the feeling of walking barefoot on a dew-covered lawn first thing in the morning. Nothing will ruin that feeling faster than stepping on a big ol' slimy slug. Aesthetically these guys have no redeeming properties at all. They can wreak havoc on your garden as well. Young slugs will damage your plants by rasping away the surface of plant leaves for food. They can eat 30 to 40 times their weight every day! The adults chew holes in leaves and leave slime trails on your precious plants. If you don't already have a favorite and effective way to control slugs try these tricks:

  • Slugs like the dark and damp. Place a board over damp ground for a hiding place during the day. Check each morning and destroy any slugs that have gathered on the bottom of the board.
  • Slugs are attracted to and drown in shallow dishes containing beer. Set the top edges of the dish at ground level and cover loosely with a board so slugs can easily get into the brew.
  • If you don't like the idea of killing slugs you can try physical barriers, Slugs will not cross rough surfaces. Sprinkle ashes or special slug barriers around the perimeter of the garden. Stay on top of this method however. If rain, wind, or anything else sweeps the barrier away you can count on the slugs exploiting the breach in your defenses.

The Turfgrass Two-Step...
Most of us are creatures of habit. When it comes to mowing your lawn you probably follow the same back and forth pattern every time you cut the grass. Unfortunately this regular practice will eventually wear ruts in the lawn where the mower wheels repeatedly follow the same path. To avoid this problem try a four-way rotation of cutting patterns. Picture your lawn as a sheet of paper and try these patterns. Next week - tango lessons:

  1. Horizontal - left-to-right, turn, right-to-left across the lawn.
  2. Vertical - top-to-bottom, turn, bottom-to-top across the lawn.
  3. Diagonal 1 - bottom-left to top-right, turn, top-right to bottom-left. Work toward corners.
  4. Diagonal 2 - bottom-right to top-left, turn, top-left to bottom-right. Work toward corners.

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends"

~ Pearl S. Buck



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