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Archive for the ‘Month-by-Month Gardening Tips’ Category

After pruning back the pond plants, covering it with Dalen netting and turning off the pump, this pond is ready for fall – and winter.

The key to keeping a water garden’s ecosystem in good shape is to limit the amount of organic debris in the water. Keeping leaves out of the pond can be a challenge when autumn leaves start to fall.

Why is limiting organic debris in a water garden so important? During winter months, organic debris will rot and release harmful gases. (In natural earthen lined ponds, these gases can be released through the soil at the water surface, but lined ponds hold all the toxins under the ice, and can cause fish and frog fatalities).

1) Cut Back the Plants

I have tall marginal plants in the pond, so in order to put the netting over the pond, I have to cut the marginals back so only a few inches of stems are left sticking out of the pots. I feel ruthless doing this, but if I don’t cut them back now, the foliage dies back and ends up in the water. Then I have to remove slimy plant stalks when the water is really cold, or have a rotted mess to clean out of pots in the spring when the plants leaf out. I even trim back the lily leaves and stems to limit what will decay in the water over the winter.

If the pond water is already cold and you have to keep your hands in the water for any length of time, try Atlas Water garden gloves. These gloves are a little bulky – they come up your whole arm to your bicep! – but they make reaching into cold water tolerable. I put off getting pond gloves for years because I didn’t think they could make a difference. Then, a few years ago, it got cold fast and I had to reach down into deep, freezing cold water that felt like thousands of needles. In desperation to complete my tasks, I bought a pair of these Atlas water garden gloves and now I use them every fall and in the early spring too.

2) Net the Pond

I’ve found that it is best to put netting over the pond just when the leaves in your neighborhood start to drop. Even if you don’t have trees near your pond, or in your yard, the wind will blow them into the pond and they will sink to the bottom. I use Dalen pond netting because it’s economical and the holes of the netting are small. (If the holes in the netting are too big, the leaves fall right through the netting).

I also like using DeWitt’s Deluxe Bird Barricade Netting to cover ponds. It has a tight mesh too but is a higher quality netting, so it isn’t as stiff and wiry. This Dewitt netting has a knitted look to it, moves more like fabric, and can be reused for quite a few seasons, but is much more noticeable covering the pond.

If you already have leaves in the bottom of the pond, get a net, scoop out all the leaves you can, and put netting on. Trust me, even if most of the leaves already dropped off the trees, there will be more leaves that will continue to blow in and accumulate in the bottom of your pond.

3) Put the Fish on a Diet

Koi and goldfish can only digest a limited amount of protein when the water temperature is below 70° F. The remaining protein they are unable to digest is excreted as toxic amonia, decreasing water quality. To reduce pollution and amonia produced by fish waste as the temperature cools, you should have already switched to a fish food specially formulated for spring and autumn conditions based on your water temperature. I feed Pond Care Spring & Autumn Premium Pellets when the water temperature is cooler.

At 55°F, the fish’s metabolism starts to slow, reducing it’s food requirements. In fact, you can see the fish move slower in cold water. Do not feed fish if there is a chance of the water temperature dropping below 50°F within a few day period. Fish are not capable of proper digestion in cold water and food can actually decay in their system and even kill the fish!  In most zones of the USA, this means you will not have to (and should not) feed your fish all winter.

4) Turn off the Pump

While leaving the pond pump run throughout the winter can create beautiful ice formations on the falls, letting the pump run all winter involves more work. Ice dams can form in streams and waterfalls, which can divert the water out of the pond. If you leave the pump run all winter, you will have to regularly check the water level of the pond. Water still evaporates in the winter -the water level can drop under the ice so you don’t notice it. Also, the pump can still get clogged with debris in the winter, so it needs to be checked regularly too.

In my opinion, it’s just easier to turn off the pump. Connecting a hose to the outdoor faucet to top off the pond on a cold winter day is not for me, so I unplug my waterfall pump each fall, clean it off, let it dry out, and store it in a dry place. We also hose out our external waterfall filter box (and drain it) so it’s ready for spring.

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Planting bulbs in the fall is not an instant gratification project. But once they bloom in the spring, all the work is worthwhile.

These beautiful fall days are perfect for being outside and I have a great reason to justify spending the day in the yard: it’s time to plant the promise of spring. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus need to be planted now before the ground freezes.

While I love to see the color of spring bulbs after the bleakness of winter, digging the holes to plant bulbs is always a chore to me, probably because I tend to put bulbs in places I don’t otherwise dig. Small hand held bulb planters are good for loose soil and smaller bulbs that do not get planted deeply.  However, for larger sized, deeply planted bulbs, consider a full sized bulb planter like the Radius Ergonomic Garden Pro Bulb Auger to make digging less of a chore.

A friend of mine also has wonderful results “digging” holes for bulbs using a cordless drill with a bulb auger, which looks like a large drill bit.  In fact, she also uses this auger with the drill to make holes for planting other things year round, like tomato plants and annuals. (She’s offered to let me try it, and I just might!)

To get the best display from your spring bulbs fertilize with Espoma Bulb-Tone when planting your bulbs. Bulb-Tone is an organic fertilizer that boosts the growth of roots and blooms. If you have some left over after planting your fall bulbs, it can be applied in the spring to fertilize older, established bulbs too.

The crisp air of autumn is here, but it’s time to plant the signs of spring. (As if we needed an excuse to dig in the dirt this weekend!)

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Purple CrocusSpring!

It sure sprung early this year. Many parts of the country are 2-3 weeks or more ahead of schedule. The riot of spring color came on fast and furious, and it has been gorgeous.

The problem is, there is still plenty of time for frost, and night time temperatures below freezing. Plants have put out tender leaves and flowers too early growth that can’t withstand freezing temperatures.

That’s where FreezePruf comes in. FreezePruf is a foliar spray that increases a plants ability to withstand cold damage. It improves cold tolerance from 2 to 9 degrees, depending on the type of plant, and the severity of the weather.

FreezePruf will last up to 4 weeks, even with moderate rain, so you can go ahead and spray it on any tender plants you have outside. That way, if there is a sudden frost or freeze, you won’t be caught un-prepared, or have to do a rush job.

All you have to do is spray your plant thoroughly. Cover all surfaces of leaves and stems. FreezePruf protects both superficially with a layer of protection against ice, and systemically by lowering the freezing point of water inside the plant. It is biodegradable, and non-toxic, so you can use it without worry. It will not harm people, pets, or your plants.

So if you have had some early growth in your garden that worries you, go ahead and apply FreezePruf now. You’ll be protected if temperatures dip, and not risk damage to new growth and flowers. You can also use it on vegetable plants, as well as fruiting trees to protect the blossoms and your future harvest!

 

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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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  • Keep a careful eye on your plants.  During the heat of the late summer months, plants can really become dehydrated.  Make sure they are getting plenty of water.
  • Check for diseases as well and if you see a sign of insects, rot or other diseases, try some insecticide or disease control.  It would even be a good idea to give your plants a shot of Miracle Gro to give them an extra boost of energy and fertilizer.
  • Maintain your water garden by adding oxygenating plants that keep the water fresh and healthy with a balanced pH.  Some plants you may want to add include water lilies, hyacinths and lotus.  Adding a water treatment would also help keep the water clear as well as help your fish heal from wounds and keep them stress-free.

My recommended products to check out:

Miracle-Gro All Purpose Fertilizer

Bayer Advanced Natria Multi- Insect Control RTS Quart

Stress Coat 16 oz.

Daconil Fungicide 32 oz. RTU

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Azaleas, 50-years old as of 2003, in Luthervil...

Azaleas

  • Now is the time to trim and prune the plants in your garden because their blooms have faded.  Rhododendrons and azaleas are examples of spring flowering shrubs that need to be cleaned up.
  • Take care of any pests with insect control products.
  • Go ahead and kill all those nasty weeds in your garden as well.  Products such as Bayer Advanced All-In-One Weed Killer or Round Up Extended Control are perfect.
  • Add some color with containers full of flowers.  Place them around your deck or patio and enjoy!  If you already have some, add some Miracle Gro to give them a mid-summer boost.

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Container garden on front porch

Outdoor Flowers

  • Try out some different container gardens.  You can put them anywhere and plant anything in them.  They come in different sizes, which will add more depth to your outdoor area.
  • Plant your own vegetable garden.  Having your own selection of vegetables at your fingertips will help save you money and is a fun way to get outside.  Now is the perfect time to plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans.
  • Plant a flower garden!  Flowers add lots of color and life to any outdoor space.  Don’t forget to check out our selection of planters and hanging baskets to help maximize the great impact your flowers will have!

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Yay for Spring!  Now that the weather has turned warm, it’s time to visit your local plant center where you can find tons of annuals and perenials, shrubs, and trees to put in your yard.

Make sure you keep those carefully selected plants nice and healthy, or your money will just go to waste.  To protect against insects, use Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed.  It will provide 12 months of protection with just one application.  Fertilize your plants with Miracle-Gro all Purpose Fertilizer-10 lb.

You should plant any cool weather vegetables you have now, such as broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce.

April also has two special occasions for you to plant trees in your community- Earth Day and Arbor Day.  Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release clean, healthy oxygen back into the air, so go ahead and take the time to help out your environment.

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  • Begin planning your landscape for Spring
  • Protect your plants and lawn from deer.  Check out our wide array of Deer Repellents.
  • Ditch the winter grays and add a splash of color with some early bloomers, such as hellebores, witch hazel, winter hazel, heather, and primrose.

Hellebore

Heather

Primrose

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