This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Controlling Critters On Your Cukes ~ Give 'Em Room To Breathe ~ Disappointing Turf?
~ Dividing Daylilies ~ New Trees From Cuttings ~ This Week's Photos
~ Monitor Those Melons ~ Dividing Ornamental Grass ~ 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

~ June 2, 2010 ~

A Good Soak...
I really enjoyed the rain we received this morning. We had been out of town for the weekend and after returning home I noticed that many plants were looking dry. Particularly the four hydrangeas I have in the back yard underneath the canopy of some very large trees. I need to remind myself that since they are planted with those trees they need to be watered often due to the tree roots taking in a large quantity of moisture. I really need to purchase some new soaker hoses. Slow deep watering is really the only way to keep them happy.

We spent the weekend in Colorado with my family. It was my Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary and they wanted us all to spend time together as a family. It was great! I have not been to Colorado in a few years and I forgot how majestic the mountains are. We spent some time in Estes Park and then made our way to Grand Lake. The drive was breathtaking. Up in the higher elevations they still had about 5 to 6 feet of snow. We saw lots of elk, beavers, deer and even a few skiers (photos). It was quite an adventure for our sons, Noah and Jake, who have never been to the mountains. It was a family fun filled weekend. One that I hope my parents will remember for sometime.

~ Shelly   

Controlling Critters On Your Cukes...
The striped cucumber beetle is a serious threat to cucurbits, such as squash, cucumber, melon and pumpkin. The larvae will cause severe damage to roots and beetles can do a real number on an emerging plant by feeding on the lower surface of its leaves. These menaces also spread bacterial wilt, cucumber mosaic, and squash mosaic virus.

Although there are several insecticides that control the cucumber beetle, only a few chemicals can be used on cucurbit plants because of their sensitivity to chemical injury. Hand-picking is an organic approach and should be done in the early morning when most feeding occurs. These beetles are easy to kill but reinforcements arriving on the plants make this a very time consuming job.

Insecticides labeled for vegetables containing pyrethrum, rotenone, methoxychlor, or carbaryl (Sevin) should control the beetles. As always, follow directions and warnings carefully when using chemicals.

Dividing Daylilies...
One of the reasons we love daylilies is their fuss-free nature. Generally they don't need to be divided as often as many other perennials. However if you want to increase the number of your favorite cultivars you may want to divide them once in a while. Savvygardeners should be able to get four new plants from a healthy, 4-year old daylily. Divide them immediately after flowering, and replant them right away.

Monitor Those Melons...
Recent and upcoming warmer temperatures are sure to give watermelons a growth boost. Keep an eye on them! As vines from different plants begin to intermingle, and the canopy becomes thicker, the chances of developing anthracnose increase. It's a good idea to scout watermelon patches once or twice a week for this disease. Look for multiple small brown to black spots on leaves. These spots are typically associated with leaf veins. As the spots coalesce and dry out, the leaf may appear tattered.

Crop rotation and the use of resistant cultivars are your best non-chemical preventive measures against anthracnose. If you want to use chemicals it's a good idea to implement a preventive fungicide spray schedule, especially during rainy periods. Available fungicides change yearly so check with your local garden center and follow the directions carefully.

Give 'Em Room To Breathe...
Just because your plant is wilting don't assume it's due to lack of water. Plants can wilt from lack of oxygen too! Soil can become over-compacted and cause root systems to suffocate. The problem is often made worse by assuming the plant is thirsty and adding water unnecessarily.

Improving the soil for better air and water circulation is easy. Simply add peat moss or other loose organic material in and around the root area of your plants. Everyone will breathe easier!

New Trees From Cuttings...
Now is a good time to start new trees and shrubs from existing ones. Many ornamental trees and shrubs can be reproduced by taking cuttings from new growth that occurred this spring. Though these softwood cuttings root relatively easily, they are susceptible to wilting and need close attention to watering and relative humidity.

  • It is best if cuttings are taken after a rain or several hours after the plant has been well watered.
  • Stems should be mature enough that they snap rather than bend when placed under pressure.
  • Cuttings should be about 6 inches long with cuts made at an angle just below a node, the area where a leaf joins the stem. The angle provides a larger cut surface and more area for the cutting to callus and root.
  • Strip off the lower leaves and place the cutting in a moist rooting media after it has been dipped in rooting powder. Several rooting mediums are suitable including sand with peat moss, sand with vermiculite, perlite with peat moss, and perlite with vermiculite. A suitable medium should provide good moisture-holding capacity and be open enough to provide good aeration to the roots.
  • Relative humidity should be kept at a high level by enclosing the container or containers in a plastic bag. Use wooden dowels or a similar object to keep the plastic off the top of the cuttings.
  • Place the rooting container in bright, indirect light and check often for watering needs.

Though some plants can be rooted directly in water, roots formed in water do not adapt well to soil.  When roots are about 1 inch long, cuttings can be removed from the propagation chamber and potted.


Dividing Ornamental Grass...
If large clumps of ornamental grasses such as maiden grass have hollow centers, this is a sign they need dividing for best growth. Large clumps can have massive roots and be quite heavy, so we find it easier to just divide pieces off the sides rather than to lift the whole clump. A square-tipped spade works best for this. You may even need to get such divisions started with a hatchet!


Disappointing Turf?
If the appearance of your lawn after mowing is not what you expect there are a few things worth evaluating.

  1. Check your mowing height. You should mow as high as possible for the specific grass type (2 to 3 inches is a healthy height for most lawn grasses).
  2. Consider your mowing frequency. A higher mowed turf will need to be mowed less frequently and scalp less often than a closely mowed turf.
  3. Probably most importantly, check the sharpness of your mower blade. Dull or damaged mower blades do not cut cleanly and leave ragged leaf tips. These ragged wounds are very stressful to the turf plant, and provide an excellent opportunity for some disease pathogens to penetrate and infect the plant.

"When I take the kitchen middens from the latest canning session out to the compost before going to bed, the orchestra is in full chorus. Night vapors and scents from the earth mingle with the fragrance of honeysuckle nearby and basil growing in the compost. They merge into the rhythmic pulse of night."

~ William Longgood



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