~ May 12, 2010 ~
Don't Even Think About It...
What month are we in? Oh, right, May. It doesn't feel much like May, in fact it feels a bit like
April. We have
had a lot of rain. In fact our rain gauge showed that we received 3.5 inches here Monday. And what's with these
cooler than normal temperatures? My pansies are still happy but my annuals and tropicals could use more sunshine.
I actually wore my winter parka Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday at a soccer
tournament. I was delighted to see the sun yesterday. At least I got the lawn mowed before more rain arrives.
How is a gardener supposed to plant with the ground so wet? The answer to that question is don't! Don't even think about
it. Digging in wet soil will actually compact the soil which makes it harder for things to grow. Make sure that when
you are planting the soil has a consistency like chocolate cake. Something that falls apart easily. If it is hard
and holds together it is too wet to work. I know it's hard when there are things you want to get in the ground but by
waiting your plant will be happier due to better soil conditions.
Let's see, I was very productive on Saturday. I planted a couple of pots, planted some new perennials and used my time
to think about the possibility of adding new beds in the back yard. Just me and Sam Parker doing what we do best. Sam
lounging in the sun, always keeping one eye on me and me going from one garden related activity to another. A truly
We're Cookin' Now...
If you are a cook as well as a Savvygardener one of the great
joys of summer is stepping outside to pick or cut fresh herbs for
preparing a fine meal In addition to their obvious use in
foods herbs are great additions to most gardens because they are
generally pest resistant, smell great, and many are a joy to
Conveniently, most herbs have similar growing habits and requirements.
Because their essential oils are much more concentrated under
cool growing conditions you will want to locate them in a cool
but sunny area which receives at least 4 to 6 hours of full sun
each day. Areas exposed to the morning sun are better than those
areas with mid-day and afternoon sun.
If you didn't start any herbs from seed buy some healthy looking plants
from your favorite plant source. However anise, coriander,
dill and fennel aren't too fond of being transplanted. Sow
their seeds directly in the garden.
For a list of over 30 herbs and specific details about growing them check
Growing Herbs in our Feature Article section.
Winning By Thinning...
A bountiful vegetable patch requires thinning when crops are
grown from seed. Be aware that vegetables behave like weeds when
they are overabundant. Overcrowding among root crops causes
poorly formed roots. A good thinning program will:
- Reduce the
competition among seedlings for soil nutrients and water.
- Promote better
air circulation around the plants thereby reducing the chances
of disease development.
- Ultimately make
higher yields possible.
Here's a list
of common garden vegetables and recommendations for their spacing.
Zoysia lawns are finally looking good all around the metro. Now
that they are greening up and growing you will want to make sure
you do the following:
- Reduce thatch
layers from zoysia by verticutting or core aerating.
- Sod or sprig
zoysia lawns to fill in bare areas.
- Fertilize zoysia
lawns with high nitrogen to promote green up and summer
- Mow zoysia to 2
to 2.5 inches tall.
Getting Antsy About Aphids...
When you see ants crawling on your garden plants, look
closely for aphids as well. Some ant species protect
aphids, moving them from plant to plant and even taking
them underground into the anthill for overnight safety
(seriously!). The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew,
a sugary water substance secreted by aphids, on which ants feed.
Vine Crop Villains...
Savvygardeners need to be vigilant for the two most
destructive insect foes of vine crops - the cucumber beetle and
the squash bug. Cucumber beetles, like most vegetable insects
must be controlled early to prevent damage to the seedling and
transmission of diseases like bacterial wilt. Planting a trap
crop, applying neem oil soap and using row covers are effective
non-chemical methods to manage this insect pest. Squash bugs can
be repelled with insecticidal soap in addition to garlic and
Miners Not Allowed...
Many species of boxwood are attacked by the boxwood leaf
miner, whose activity becomes very noticeable in mid spring.
American boxwood is particularly susceptible. Blister-like orange
spots are a sign of the larvae of this insect, which hides
between the leaf surfaces and feeds there until it emerges. The
adults, orange in color and gnat-like, are easily controlled with
a pyrethroid insecticide. Heavier infestations should be treated
with a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid.
Dull Blades = Brown Blades...
Have you ever noticed your grass turning brown at the tips
several days after mowing? A quick look under the mowing deck
might explain it all. Chances are, your mower blade is not
sufficiently sharp. A quick visit to the local hardware
store will fix the problem for about $5.
Remember to sharpen your mower blade several times each season.
It's even a good idea to keep a spare blade on hand. That way you
always have a sharp one.
"The joy of being able to cut flowers freely, lavishly, to
decorate the house and to give to friends is an end that
justifies a lot of gardening effort."
~ T. H. Everett