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Archive for March, 2012

Moss

Customer question: I have a great deal of moss in my lawn. Should I treat the lawn with a moss killer and then de-thatch? What is the best way to prevent the moss from returning?

The best way to keep moss from returning is to change the conditions. The same conditions that are great for moss are difficult or impossible for grass to thrive in. These include:

  • Too much shade
  • Compacted soil
  • Poor soil fertility
  • Poor drainage
  • Low pH

It’s fine to start with a moss killer, but unless you change conditions, the grass won’t fill in, and moss will come right back.

After applying moss killer, de-thatch to loosen up the soil, and rake up all the dead stolons along with the moss.

Reseed bare areas; then put your lawn on a regular feeding schedule, mow frequently, and water as needed.

Test your soil for acidity. Ideally, soil pH should be 6-7. If it’s lower, add lime to encourage the grass, and discourage the moss.

These steps will help the grass grow lush and thick enough to crowd out any moss.

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State fruit - Tomato

Say it any way you want, there are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from, it can be paralyzing to try to choose what to plant.Here are 4 things to consider when buying tomato seeds or seedlings.

Disease Resistance

There are varieties that are resistant to certain diseases. Many hybrids are developed specifically for that trait. If you have struggled with disease problems, or know of one common in your region, by all means choose a resistant variety. If you aren’t sure, or are just starting out, you might want to plant a couple of different cultivars, and see if the disease resistant one outperforms the others.

Try: Celebrity

Days to Harvest

If you want to have the first ripe tomato on the block, or you live in a region with short summers, choose varieties that mature the fastest. Some tomatoes are ready to begin harvesting 60 days after transplanting, while others need 85 days or more to mature.

Try Early Girl for early harvesting

Growing Habit

Choose plants with growing habits that match your needs. If you are growing in containers, there are tomatoes that grow on compact, bushes suitable for small spaces. Try Patio Hybrid Tomato

Determinate varieties have a bush-like growing habit. They require less tying and staking, but they produce all of their fruit in a short span of time and then they are done. Try Rutgers and Roma

Indeterminate varieties have a vine-like growing habit. They are more sprawling, and they will continue to grow and produce tomatoes until killed by frost.

Do you want slicing tomatoes? Canning tomatoes? Salad tomatoes? Read the package to see what size fruit it will produce, and whether it’s what you have in mind.

Hybrid or Open-Pollinated

Plant breeders create hybrid plants by cross-breeding two different varieties. Hybrid plants may be more productive and and are often bred to resist disease or cultural problems.

Seeds from open pollinated and heirloom varieties can be saved and planted next year. Hybrids can not. They will not produce the same quality of plant, and so new seed must be purchased each season. Many gardeners have favorite cultivars that have been passed along from other gardeners and past generations.

Of course, if you have some favorite varieties, go ahead and plant them, even if they aren’t the most logical choices.  Plant what you love, and you’ll be a happy gardener!

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Lawn

Using fertilizer correctly grows healthier plants, saves money, and is environmentally responsible. Follow these 10 tips for success:

  1. Apply water soluble fertilizers only when plants are actively growing. Nutrients must be taken up quickly by plant roots or they will simply be washed away.
  2. Slow-release fertilizers and compost can be applied any time, since nutrients remain in the soil and are available to plants over a long period of time as needed.
  3. Avoid excessive feeding; this can lead to rapid over-growth that attracts pests, but doesn’t help the plant’s health or appearance.  Also, excess fertilizer ends up in streams and lakes where it will pollute the water.
  4. Mix as directed on the package. Too strong a solution can “burn” plant roots, and also end up washing away into waterways.
  5. Do not use lawn fertilizer on flowers; the high nitrogen content may encourage the growth of foliage at the expense of blooms.
  6. Don’t feed trees, shrubs, and perennials with a fast-acting fertilizer in autumn. Plants are preparing to go dormant for winter, and should not be encouraged to put out new growth.
  7. Have your soil tested every few years. You can use a home Soil Test Kit  or send a soil sample to a testing lab. Your local cooperative extension office can recommend a lab.
  8. Make sure the soil pH is appropriate for the plants you are growing. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.8. The soil’s pH affects how available the nutrients in a fertilizer are to plants.
  9. Avoid fertilizing lawns during very hot weather, when they are essentially dormant.
  10. Remember that with fertilizer, more isn’t necessarily better.

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Catkins in Colwick Country Park A reminder tha...

For many of us,

spring has paid no attention to the calendar this year; arriving early and allowing summer to show up now and then too.

It makes gardeners itchy to get outside and plant, but we have to remember that there is still plenty of time for cold weather to return. We have to be patient.

While we’re waiting, I found this old post about getting ready for the season.

Read here…… Planning For Spring in the Garden

Hopefully  you can find some things to give you a little fix, until you are sure spring is here to stay.

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I think I’ve found the solution I’ve needed to stop the relentless, ongoing chore of weeding my landscape. The problem with weeding is that it’s never done, and if you fall behind, or go on vacation or just have SOMETHING to do besides pull weeds, all of a sudden you’re over run. And then those weeds mature, go to seed, and start on next years crop! This year, I’m going to try Monterey Weed Impede pre-emergent weed control.

Pre-emergent weed control has 2 advantages:

  1. First, you save yourself the endless chore of weeding as they emerge, you prevent them from ever coming up.
  2. Second, by not allowing those weeds to emerge and set seed, you reduce next year’s crop of weedy pests.

Advantages:

  • Easy to apply- just attach it to the garden hose
  • Prevents grasses and broadleaf weeds in ornamental beds, along walkways, and around trees & shrubs
  • No mixing or measuring, don’t need a sprayer
  • Lasts 3-4 months

NOW is the time to spray Weed Impede. You are probably preparing your planting beds, maybe spreading some mulch, getting ready to plant. Right now, before the first little crabgrass or chickweed appears, spray Weed Empede.  Stop them from coming up, stop them from crowding out your real plants, stop them from hogging up all the water and fertilizer, and above all, stop them from producing next year’s seeds!

Here’s the Product Information:

  • 30 Oz. Ready to Spray
  • Covers 1250 Sq Ft.
  • Active Ingredient:  3% Surflan
  • Not for use around food crops

And here’s where you can find it: Monterey Weed Impede

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Susquehanna Cedar Planter Box

I wasn’t necessarily going to show you products today, but I was looking at these, and they are so good in so many ways that I couldn’t resist.

These Cedar planters are responsibly made here in the USA. They are crafted from sustainable Western Red Cedar. Western Red Cedar is perfect for planters because it lasts beautifully in outdoor conditions. It doesn’t need to be finished it will weather to a lovely gray patina. And the nature of this wood is such that, when you plant the container, the wood swells gently, sealing the planter so that you don’t even need a liner. The bottom has a drain hole, and is made from  rot-proof 100% recycled plastic.

I KNOW! How can one planter have so much going for it!Let’s recap:

  • Made in the USA
  • Made from sustainable wood
  • Plastic bottom is 100% recycled material
  • No maintenance-Weathers beautifully outdoors
  • Seals itself naturally when you plant

So the only question is….. which style do you need?

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The approach of spring leads many of us to look at our lawns and think Uh-Oh. Well, maybe that’s just me, but I do know that many of you will be seeding to fill in bare spots or just thicken up your lawn.

Perhaps the most critical part of the job is also the most time-consuming – keeping it watered. You have to keep those seeds and tiny plants moist. If they dry up they either won’t sprout at all, or they will germinate and quickly wither and die.

Mulching will help hold moisture in, but straw comes with it’s own set of problems. It’s a pain to spread, may contain weed seeds, and may block sunlight. In fact, it can also block some of your painstakingly applied water from reaching seedlings.

Take a look at ENCAP’s Lawn Starter Mulch Kit. It’s a granular mulch plus starter fertilizer and can be applied with a spreader or sprinkled right out of the bag. It contains everything you need to help your seed germinate and gives it an optimal environment to establish.

ENCAP’s Seeding Mulch Kit uses their patented Advanced Soil Technology™ (AST™) that improves soil structure by creating millions of microscopic “spaces” in your soil. Those tiny air pockets are vital to healthy soil and deep root systems.

Here is how ENCAP describes it:

“The AST™ technology is a combination of proprietary polymers called water soluble polyacrlymides (WSPAM) which are impregnated into and coated onto our products. When activated by moisture, the polymers are released from the product and begin to engage the soil where they provide many benefits including:

Improved soil structure and soil aggregates
Improved seed establishment
Better water infiltration
Improved root mass
Reduced soil loss from erosion
Resistance to soil crusting”

You know what- seeding a lawn is hard work. This sounds like a solution that will not only make it a little easier, but will also give you better results-more germination, deeper roots, healthier soil. Want to give it a try?

ENCAP Lawn Starter Mulch & Fertlizer

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Sunflower seedlings, just three days after ger...

If you have been starting seeds indoors for any length of time, you may have had experience with “damping off”. This fungal infection causes the seedlings to shrivel at the soil line and die, usually very suddenly. There’s not much you can do to save them at that point, but you can take some measures to prevent damping off, and give you stronger healthier seedlings in general.

  • Use sterile planting medium.
  • Resist the temptation to use garden soil, or re-use potting soil. You may be introducing pathogens at the plant’s most vulnerable time.
  • Give your seedlings plenty of light, direct sun if possible.
  • Provide ventilation. A fan will help, but at least make sure your seeds are in an area where air flows freely.
  • Thin crowded seedlings. This will strengthen them in general since they won’t be fighting for available resources, and allow better air circulation as well.
  • Don’t over-water. Water from the bottom, and keep the growing medium moist, not soaking.

If you had a problem with damping off, don’t despair. Throw out the diseased seedlings and planting mix and start again. This is one good reason to use individual “plugs” rather than a large seed bed. It would make it easier to remove just the infected plugs without disturbing healthy growth. In any case, you’ve got plenty of time, and looking at the list above, you can probably figure out where you need to improve conditions.

Happy seed starting!

Jiffy  Carefree Greenhouse

Need Supplies?

Jiffy Carefree Greenhouse

has 72 Individual cells

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