~ May 19, 2010 ~
Guess What? More Rain...
Hmm... it's raining again today. Good thing too because we haven't seen any in awhile. You should have seen me
yesterday. I was outside every minute trying to get the 5 yards of mulch that was delivered to us on Saturday
spread. I knew it was suppose to rain today and tomorrow so I was trying to get as much done as possible. It
was raining on Saturday when
Missouri Organic delivered our mulch
(photos) so we immediately covered it with tarps to keep
it dry. I only got to a few gardens yesterday and it seems as if I made only a small dent in the heaping mound of
mulch lying in the driveway. I forget how grueling it is to spread mulch. I could certainly feel it in my back
today when I crawled out of bed. I felt better once up and around but my body was certainly feeling the affects
of all that shoveling and lifting.
Watching me spread mulch is like watching someone ice a cake. I am very deliberate. I know it's silly but I can't
help myself. I fill up this aluminum bucket and carry it to each garden (instead of using my new wheelbarrow) and
then I dump the small amount of mulch in the space and spread it accordingly. I push it gently under plants, keeping
within the lines making sure that the mulch completes the bed. It is time consuming and tedious but I enjoy doing
it that way. It is a bit crazy but we all have our own ways and that is just one of many of mine.
Two days of rain and then it looks like things will be heating up for the weekend :-) We really do need a few warm
days to dry out so I am optimistically keeping my fingers crossed that once we get through today and tomorrow we will
have a few days to get back outside. Note the word optimistically.
As mentioned above
Missouri Organic just delivered us lots of great
mulch for our gardens. Mulching your garden is one of the best things you can do to
help retain soil moisture and keep weeds at bay. Here are some common mulching materials
and a few thoughts on each:
Mulches are very common and effective. They are available
as chips, chunks, nuggets or shredded. In addition to being
generally attractive bark mulches resist compaction quite well.
Chips are also common, effective and economical. They can
deplete the soil of nitrogen however so additional fertilizing
may be required.
Needles are especially good around acid loving plants like
azaleas and blueberries.
is inexpensive and is often used in large vegetable gardens.
Make sure it is free of crop and weed seeds or you're just
making more work for yourself.
Clippings should only be used after they have dried out
thoroughly. If the source lawn has weeds your mulched garden
will likely get them too. Not too
can be attractive and effective but they don't provide any of
the decomposition benefits of organic mulches. Rock mulch in
direct sun can get quite hot causing problems for some tender
Plastic and Fabric aren't much to look at but they do keep
the weeds down.
As a general rule mulching with
anything is better than not mulching at all. It's that effective.
For an in-depth look at this important topic don't miss
All About Mulch in our Features section.
Is That Poison Ivy?...
Learning to identify poison ivy is vital if you wish to avoid the rash that
accompanies exposure. Unfortunately, poison ivy can make
identification difficult because it occurs in three forms: an
erect woody shrub, a groundcover that creeps along the ground,
and a woody vine that will climb trees. When poison ivy climbs,
it forms numerous aerial roots that gives the vine the appearance
of a fuzzy rope. The leaves of poison ivy also vary. Though the
compound leaf always has three leaflets, the leaf margins may be
toothed, incised, lobed or smooth. The size of the leaves can
also vary though usually the middle leaflet is larger than the
other two. Also, the middle leaflet is the only one with a long
stalk; the other two are closely attached to the petiole (leaf
stem). The number of leaves gives rise to the saying: "Leaves of
three, let it be!" Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia
creeper. Virginia creeper, however, has five leaflets rather than
Pests Attacking Annuals...
So, your newly planted annuals don't look so good. Chances are they are the
victims of any number of pests. Here are some of the most common problems and
some quick solutions:
If the leaves on your marigolds turn to "lace", earwigs or slugs
are probably nibbling on them at night. Spray with Sevin for
earwigs (best in late dusk after bees have stopped feeding).
To control slugs apply a product like Sluggo around the plant.
- Cutworms will eat off newly planted plants at the soil line. Add
aluminum foil collars to the stems to protect the plants from the worms.
- If aphids or spider mites are a problem, spray with insecticidal soap.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Pinch!
No, this isn't a race but if you start pinching back aster, garden phlox and
mums now you're sure to win later! Pinching back the blooms will encourage
bushier plants with more flowers. After some of your summer perennials have
tired out and are no longer blooming these plants will start to peak and will
add that much needed color to your garden. Soooo, no need to dust off the running
shoes for this race just limber up those thumbs and start pinching!
Why Plants Don't Always Bloom...
One of the most common questions we get asked is simply, "Why won't my plant bloom?"
Why indeed? There are often several factors involved but most can be explained by one
of the following circumstances:
- Age of Plant - Being too young or immature is a very common
reason that many trees do not flower. Plants need to reach a certain level
of maturity before they begin to flower each year.
- Shade - Lack of adequate light is another very common reason that
many types of plants do not flower. Plants may grow but not flower in the shade.
- Cold or Frost Injury - Cold weather may kill flower buds or
partially opened flowers. Plants that are not fully hardy in our area are the
most susceptible to this type of cold injury.
- Drought - Flowers or flower buds dry and drop off when there is temporary
lack of moisture in the plants.
- Improper Pruning - Some plants bloom only on last year’s wood. Pruning
plants at the wrong time of the year can remove the flower buds for next year’s
blossoms. Many spring flowering plants, such as azaleas begin setting next year’s
flower buds in the late spring. Pruning these plants in the summer or fall
may prevent flowering next year. Cutting back a plant severely, such as with climbing
roses, can remove all the flowering wood.
- Nutrient Imbalance - Too much nitrogen can cause plants to produce primarily
leaves and stems. The plant will be large and usually very green and healthy but will have
few or no flowers.
There are lots of good reasons to grow herbs. First on my list is for cooking.
Nothing compares to the taste of fresh herbs added to your favorite dish. I used to
buy pesto in a jar. I thought it was good until I started making my own from
garden-fresh basil. There's no going back folks.
If cooking is your goal make sure you do not fertilize your herbs too much. The
essential oils that provide flavor are more concentrated when herbs are grown in
moderately rich soil with just enough fertilizer to keep them green. Too much
fertilizer encourages the plant to grow large but at the sacrifice of less flavor.
To get greater quantities without sacrificing quality simply grow many more,
albeit smaller, plants.
Whether you have laid a full yard of sod or are just doing a little
patchwork you need to make
sure that your newly laid sod gets the right amount of water.
This means keeping it really wet (soupy) for the first week or
two. Ideally the sod and soil you are covering will be wet
to a depth of 3-4 inches. For a whole yard this means running
the sprinkler a lot. For patch work you can probably give
the area a good manual soaking 3-4 times a day. After two
weeks you should be able to back off the watering a bit,
providing the sodded area with a good soak each morning -
again it's important that the sod and soil stay wet. After four
weeks your sod should be established enough to live on a deep
watering 2-3 times a week.
"Unless you take care, the sun will pin
you down. Put a hat on that foolish
head of yours when you go out into
the fields. "
~ Farmer's Almanac