This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ Nature's Drip Irrigation ~ Household Humidity Help ~ Sharpen Mower Blades Now
~ Ashes To Garden? ~ Pacing Your Paperwhites ~ This Week's Photos
~ Goin' Buggy ~ Guy-Wire Guidelines ~ 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

~ December 8, 2010 ~

Here's The Drill...
Oh the weather outside has been frightful, but today is so delightful and tomorrow we'll have some more, it is warm, it is warm, it is warm! I couldn't resist the corny opening. It has been so cold outside that when I heard that we were going to get a couple of warmer days I was thrilled. The calm before the storm perhaps? There has been talk of the white stuff this weekend. Not inches to my understanding but white stuff none-the-less. I guess if the temperatures are going to bottom out into the teens, why not have a little snow on the ground? Bah, humbug, I so dislike the cold!

As I was driving to the gym this morning I noticed a team of landscapers working and planting bulbs with a drill! I had to look twice but that is exactly what they were doing. Not a bad idea if you still have planting to do. Most bulbs need 12-14 weeks of frozen sleep time before they are ready to flower in the spring. So for all of you who have waited, grab your drill and get busy. You still have time!

~ Shelly   

Nature's Drip Irrigation...
Looks like some snow in this weekend's forecast. Maybe some rain as well. We certainly need some precipitation around her. Even though snow often contains little moisture the fact that it melts slowly into the soil means it can be a more effective irrigator than a hard rain. You can even increase the benefit by shoveling sidewalk and driveway snow and ice to areas of the garden that will eventually benefit from the added moisture. Just make sure the shoveled snow doesn't contain any salty or harmful chemical de-icers.

Ashes To Garden?
You may have heard that using wood ashes on your garden can help make the soil more fertile. Though ashes do contain significant amounts of potash, they contain little phosphate and no nitrogen. Most Kansas City-area soils are naturally high in potash and do not need more. Also, wood ashes will raise the pH of our soils, often a drawback in Kansas where soils tend toward high pH. Therefore, wood ashes add little benefit, and may harm, many Kansas soils. In most cases it is best to get rid of them. However, one possible use for ashes would be as an addition to compost. Compost is normally acidic and the ashes would help neutralize the pH.


Goin' Buggy...
Most homes in winter become dry, dry, dry. Keep an eye out for spider mites on your houseplants - they thrive in that dry air. A light infestation can usually be controlled with foliage rinsing or the application of insecticidal soap. Heavy infestations may force you to dispose of the plant altogether. Females spider mites can lay about 200 eggs and the life cycle may be completed in just 7 days. Do the math - it gets ugly fast!

Household Humidity Help...
You know that dry feeling you get in a heated house all winter long? Your houseplants like it even less than you do. They actually prefer a relative humidity of 40 to 50 percent but suffer under humidity levels of 10 to 20 percent common in many homes during the winter months. What to do? Humidifiers are an excellent way to increase the relative humidity in the home. Grouping plants together is an easy way to raise humidity levels as well. The water evaporating from the potting soil, plus water lost through the plant foliage, will increase the relative humidity in the vicinity of the houseplants. Another method is to place houseplants on trays (saucers) filled with pea gravel or pebbles. Add water to the trays, but keep the bottoms of the pots above the water line. The evaporation of water from the trays increases the relative humidity.

By the way, misting houseplants is not an effective way to raise the relative humidity. The plant foliage dries quickly after misting and misting would have to be done several times a day to be effective at all.


Pacing Your Paperwhites...
As the holidays near, you can adjust the bloom time of your forced paperwhites. If they are coming along too quickly, place them in a cool room (50-60F) and water less frequently. If you need to speed them up a bit, place them in the warmest room in the house. With a little luck they'll be blooming right on time!

Guy-Wire Guidelines...
If you are using guy wires around newly planted trees make sure hose sections (or other protection) are still covering the supporting wires or ropes. Without sufficient protection the recent windy weather could cause a young tree's bark to be stripped away by bare wire or rope.

Sharpen Mower Blades Now...
Last week we talked about putting the mower away for the winter. Now is also an excellent time to sharpen mower blades so they'll be ready next spring. Sharpening rotary mower blades is fairly straightforward. The following steps will guide you through this process:

  1. Check the blade for major damage. If you can't fix it, it likely will need to be replaced.
  2. Remove grass and debris from the blade with a moist cloth. Dry before beginning to sharpen the cutting edge.
  3. Remove nicks from the cutting edge, using a grinding wheel or hand-file.
  4. If using a grinding wheel, match the existing edge angle to the wheel. If hand-filing, file at the same angle as the existing edge.
  5. Grind or file until the edge is 1/32 inch, about the size of a period.
  6. Particularly with a grinding wheel, avoid overheating the blade as this may warp it.
  7. Clean the blade with solvent or oil for optimum winter storage. Avoid use of water as it will promote rust.

Following these tips can help you better prepare your mower for winter storage and also save you some steps this coming spring.


"When it's too cold for comfort, the sun-filled garden promises that winter will be brief. "

~ Norman Kent Johnson



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