This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Mulch Ado About Trees ~ Planting Perennials Properly ~ A Dandy Time to Stop Dandelions
~ Continue Mosquito Control ~ Apple Storage ~ This Week's Photos
~ Counting On Crickets ~ Hummingbird Attractors ~ 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

~ September 8, 2010 ~

Tropical Treat...
Batten down the hatches! Hermine is headed our way! That's right, tropical storm Hermine is expected to hit our area this evening dropping anywhere from 2-5 inches of rain. It looks as if we are not going to get hit as hard as Texas or Oklahoma but 5 inches is still a lot of rain. I say bring it on! We sure could use the rain. Everything is so dry. This summer's heat has really taken its toll. The lawn looks awful. It is bi-colored and I am guessing you know the colors I am talking about. Yep, brown and green with brown being the prominent color. It really is in bad shape but I know that once the cooler, fall temperatures come to stay it too will start to green up again (kind of like my gardening spirit). We will not overseed this fall due to some construction we have going on at the house. The contractors need space to work and it looks as if the lawn is the space they need, so I am trying to not get too uptight about how bad it looks for now. I do hope that if you need to seed that you are already in the process of doing so. Now is the time to take advantage of the warm ground and cooler air temperatures. This weather is perfect for new seed growth and once the rain comes it will give you a day off of watering. What are you waiting for?

~ Shelly   

Mulch Ado About Trees...
Fall is a great time to plant a tree. Keeping it alive is an all-season affair. Mulching is so important for new trees but it's not as simple as dumping a bag of wood chips at the base of a tree. Here are some tips to help you avoid the most common mistakes:

  • Don't pile mulch around the trunk.  This keeps the trunk wet, which can allow diseases and insects to invade.  Keep the mulch at least 6 inches from the trunk.
  • Don't put on too little or too much.  A 1-inch-deep layer doesn't do the job.  A settled depth of 3 to 5 inches gives you the full benefits of mulch, including good weed control.  Mulch depths of a foot or two are excessive and may smother roots.
  • Don't apply sour-smelling mulch.  If it smells like a litter box it's probably been stored on a waterlogged site.  The ammonia that builds in this situation can harm your tree.  Sour mulch is a rare occurrence, but your nose will give you a clear warning of it.
  • Don't use freshly chipped chips.  While the chance of disease transmission is small it's easy to go zero-risk by aging chips for six weeks or more before using them around your trees.

Continue Mosquito Control...
In case you haven't noticed, mosquitoes continue to be present in large numbers and will continue to pose a threat right up until our first hard frost. Limiting their breeding area is one of the most effective ways to keep their numbers in check. Mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of standing water, sometimes even in water collected on a plastic bag or under a small saucer under a plant. Change water in birdbaths and pets water dishes regularly - at least twice a week.

Counting On Crickets...
The temperatures are dropping but how much? I guess you could be a traditionalist and look at a thermometer. Or you could show your savvy by listening to the crickets. Seriously. Count the number of chirps a common cricket makes during a 15-second period. Add 40 to the number of chirps. The total will be pretty close to the actual temperature in Fahrenheit.

Planting Perennials Properly...
Fall is here and that means we're planting perennials at our house. By planting perennials now Savvygardeners will benefit from the plant establishing a strong root structure during the autumn months. This in turn leads to a bigger, healthier plant next spring.

Perennials are generally sold in pots or bare-root. Here are the steps to follow when planting a bare root perennial:

  1. Remove the plant from its package, and carefully remove all loose packing material (peat moss and sawdust are commonly used).
  2. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Examine the root system, and trim away any rotted, moldy, broken or elongated roots with a sharp knife or your pruning shears.
  4. Dig a hole deep and wide enough to allow the roots to fan out from the crown at about 45° angle. It sometimes helps to make a cone-shaped mound of soil in the bottom of the hole and spread the roots around it. Remember, the crown of most perennials should be roughly level with the surrounding ground.
  5. Cover the roots with soil and press down firmly. Make sure all the roots - especially those under the crown are in contact with soil.
  6. Water the plant well and add a layer of mulch.


Apple Storage...
Last week we told readers when to pick apples. This week we'll share with you how long you can store them.  Not surprisingly some cultivars can be stored longer than others.
Some can be stored for as long as eight months and still be tasty and crispy.  The approximate length of time of those that keep well under refrigerated conditions follows:

Cultivar Days   Cultivar Days
Wealthy 60 Braeburn 180
Paulared 90 Idared 200
Gala 120 Rome Beauty 220
Jonathan 120 Winesap 220
Grimes Golden 120 Fuji 240
Golden Delicious 150 Granny Smith 240
Empire 150 Arkansas Black 240
Delicious 160    

For best results:

  • Store only the best quality.
  • Pick as they are first maturing.
  • Avoid skin breaks, disease or insect damage, and bruises on individual fruit.
  • Store in a plastic bag to help retain moisture in the apples. The bag should have a few small holes for air exchange. The bags of apples may be stored in boxes to prevent bruising if they must be stacked or moved from time to time.
  • Refrigerate at about 35º F.
  • Sort about every 30 to 40 days to remove fruit that may be beginning to rot.


Hummingbird Attractors...
We saw our hummingbird friends again this year but next year we'd like to see even more! If you're looking for plants that are likely to attract hummingbirds consider planting these this fall:

Trumpet Vine Catalpa Coralberry
Weigela Nicotiana Petunia
Salvia Hollyhock Columbine
Delphinium Foxglove Gladiolus
Daylily Hibiscus Liatris
Tiger Lily Penstemon Phlox
Sweet William Snap Dragon Larkspur

A Dandy Time to Stop Dandelions...
So, all summer long you've been battling a few (or a few dozen) dandelions for control of your lawn. Well, they say the best way to control dandelions and other broad-leaf weeds is by maintaining a lush, healthy turf. But you've still got to knock out those pesky weeds that just won't go away and fall is a great time to do it. Options are many but generally the most effective controls result with a liquid broadleaf weed herbicide sprayed under these conditions:

  • The weeds are actively growing.
  • Soil moisture is plentiful (never in drought).
  • Air temperatures are between 60°and 75°F (never above 80°).
  • Wind speeds are below 5 mph.
  • The lawn will not receive moisture through rain or irrigation for at least 24 hours.
  • The lawn will not be mowed for several days before or after the application.
  • The person doing the applying reads and follows herbicide label instructions carefully.

"Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits."

~ Samuel Butler, Novelist



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