~ May 5, 2010 ~
Wonderfully Busy Time...
It has been such a beautiful week! I have been in the garden every day. I am always
so exhausted at the end of the day - exhausted in a "feels really productive" kind of way.
I have just now started planting. I have purchased a few perennials and annuals. I
will make several trips to many garden centers in the next few weeks trying to choose
just the right plants. Plants for beds and pots, searching for perfect color combinations,
choosing plants that need less water and newer pest resistant varieties. It is not so
easy to purchase a plant. I started making notes months ago, listing plants that I wanted
to look for and what needed replacing after winter's cold wrath. As Kevin will tell you,
it does not matter where we go, I can wander around any garden related store for hours.
Thank goodness he is a very patient man :-)
I spent a big part of the day yesterday cutting back spring flowering bulbs. Not the
leaves, but the stems on which the flower blooms. Remember, the foliage from muscari,
daffodils, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs needs to die back naturally. No cutting!
All of the nutrients that the bulb needs it gets from the foliage as it slowly turns yellow.
Once the foliage is yellow you will find that it is easily removed with a simple tug. If the
foliage does not pull away from the plant it is not ready to be removed. Important tips for
healthier spring bulbs.
Need a great Mother's Day gift?
Johnson Farms, a Savvygardener.com sponsor, located in Belton,
Missouri has some of the prettiest and biggest hanging baskets I have ever seen. I know
would love one!
Preventing Black Spot...
Spring rains mean you will probably need to establish a preventive
spray program for your roses if they have been subject to black spot in
the past. The problem with fungal diseases is that they have to be prevented
- a fungicide isn't as effective once the problem is apparent. As always, it
is better to buy only roses that are disease resistant to begin with.
It's Not Too Late!
Do you feel like spring is slipping away from you? Just a few weeks ago it
seemed like we had all the time in the world to plant early veggies. If you're
like us, hectic schedules can make prime planting time slip away. Don't panic!
There's still plenty to do. In fact if you hurry you can still sneak in the
following: lettuce, onions, spinach, beets, chard, carrots, parsnips, radishes,
turnips, shallots, chives and parsley.
Bonus! Now that soil temperatures are on their way up it's also a great time
to get your tomatoes and peppers in the ground if you haven't already done so.
When selecting tomato transplants, choose healthy plants without any blooms. If
the tomato plants have blooms or, worse, fruit before you transplant, pinch off
the flowers or fruit. If tomatoes set fruit before the plant gets large enough -
that is, produces enough leaves - the fruit is small and tasteless. Removing
flowers or premature fruit allows the plant to produce more leaves that will
make larger tomatoes throughout the growing season. The formula for successful
tomato production is quite simple: Healthy leaves equal tasty fruit.
A Fungus Among Us...
Don't be surprised if you head outside and find a yard full of
mushrooms. Where do these things come from? Although wild
mushrooms tend to make their appearance just about any time in
woodlands they're more likely to appear in lawns following
several days of wet weather which have been preceded by weeks of
dry weather. We've got plenty in our yard.
Mushrooms are specialized types of fungi that are important as decay
microorganisms, aiding in the breakdown of logs, leaves, fallen
branches, and other organic debris. This important role of
mushrooms results in recycling of essential nutrients.
In the vast majority of cases mushrooms are not parasitic on lawn grass and
won't cause any disease problems. Just wait for a prolonged
change in the weather and they will wither and disappear
providing additional organic matter to your soil.
Tip Top Tools...
Here's a great way to keep your gardening hand tools clean and free from rust. Fill
a 5-gallon bucket with play sand. Moisten the sand with mineral oil or even motor oil.
Plunging your tools into the sand/oil mix several times before storing them will remove
the dirt and leave a protective coating of oil on the metal surface.
Taking A Powder...
A white powdery film on your lawn is likely an outbreak of powdery mildew. This
fungal disease is favored by cool spring or fall weather, and is common in shaded
areas. Kentucky bluegrass in shady areas is especially susceptible. High nitrogen
levels also favor disease development. Fortunately, while it is not very
attractive, powdery mildew rarely causes significant damage to turf.
The Right Height...
To prevent weed germination in lawns, mow frequently at the tallest recommended
mowing height. Weeds germinate rapidly when turf is scalped by mowing too short or
when it is not mowed frequently enough. Both mistakes decrease turf density and
cause an open canopy that favors weeds. Experts recommend a range of mowing heights
to meet specific turf activities. Lower mowing heights require more frequent mowing.
Annual grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, are especially a problem on turfs that lack
density as a result of poor mowing.
Recommended mowing heights for grass types:
Kentucky bluegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
Tall fescue - 3.0 to 4.0 inches.
Fescue/bluegrass - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.
Bluegrass/ryegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
Perennial ryegrasses - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
Creeping red fescues - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.
"If every boy in America planted an apple tree (except in
our compactest cities) in some useless corner, and tended
it carefully, the net saving would in no time extinguish the
~ Amelia Simmons