This Week's Gardening Tips from the Savvygardener
Missouri Organic Mulch, Compost, Bulk Soil
In This Issue
~ A Heavy Load ~ Spring Dreams ~ Keep Off The Grass
~ De-Icer Damage ~ Sappy Trees ~ This Week's Photos
~ Belated Bulb Burial ~ Houseplant Help ~ 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

~ January 5, 2011 ~

Wacky Weather...
So how about the wacky weather we had right before the New Year? Temperatures last Wednesday were in the mid 50's and Thursday was a pleasant, spring-like day with temperatures topping out in the high 60's. Early Friday morning, most Kansas Citians were awakened by lightning, thunder, rain and hail. And once the cold front moved through the early morning rain turned into ice (photos). Kansas is notorious for its ever changing weather but I must say that I have never seen anything quite like that. In a matter of 24 hours the temperature went from a balmy 68 to a brisk 16. Wacky weather indeed!

What does a gardener have to do to get some rain? Seriously, it is so dry. We have had little precipitation and I am worried about the evergreens. We have had so much wind that many evergreens around town are looking desiccated. I'm hoping that this weekend's system is going to bring us some much needed moisture. At this point I don't care if it is rain or snow, just something really wet! Since we have been fortunate to have a few warmer days don't be afraid to pull out that hose and water. Particularly those evergreens that look really thirsty. Come spring time you will be glad you did.

~ Shelly   

A Heavy Load...
Snowfall has been pretty light and scarce this winter - so far anyway. When it does arrive remember that certain evergreen shrubs, such as yew, juniper and arborvitae (northern white cedar) have a tendency to accumulate snow during snowfalls. The weight of the snow bends the branches of the shrubs, and can cause breakage or kinking. It is a good idea to remove most of the snow on these shrubs to reduce such damage. Do not, however, beat the shrubs with a snow shovel or other implement. Doing so will only cause additional damage. Use a broom or a brush and as gently as possible remove the snow from the upper surfaces. Don’t be alarmed if the shrub does not immediately rebound to its former shape. It is likely that in the spring, when sap is flowing through the shrub, it will recover from any bending that may have occurred.

De-Icer Damage...
When ice and snow pile up it's not unusual to reach for a deicing agent to help melt the frozen stuff away.  Deicers work by lowering the freezing point of water, creating a brine (chemical-water solution) and allowing water to evaporate. The oldest and most common deicing agent is sodium chloride (rock salt), but calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride are also used. The damaging effects of these materials on plants come from their reducing the ability of plants to take up water and the effects may not show up until late spring or summer when water stresses begin to prevail so don’t expect damage to be immediate.

Limited use of deicers and spreading the ice slush when scooping it away over a wide area will lessen potential damage. Heavy applications of water in the spring season can also flush salts downward through the soil.

Belated Bulb Burial...
If you're like me you were counting on warmer weather in December to finish your bulb planting. Between unpredictable weather and the crush of the holidays it just didn't get done. Here's a trick I've gotten used to using each year: Plant your bulbs now in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under a thick blanket of leaves. With luck the ground will thaw again this winter and we can use the opportunity to transplant them into the garden.

Spring Dreams...
These past few weeks of wintry weather have us dreaming about spring! It seems like a long way off on the calendar but guess what? There are several flowers whose seeds can be started this month! They include Begonia, Browallia, Geranium, Larkspur, Pansy and Vinca.  Check out When to Start Seeds Indoors for more details.

Sappy Trees...
If you have ever pruned trees in late winter to early spring, you may have noticed that some weep sap from fresh pruning wounds. Different species of trees vary in how easily and how much they "bleed." Those that are most susceptible to bleeding include maples (silver, sugar, amur, Norway and hedge), black walnut, pecan, birch, mulberry, Osage orange (hedge tree) and grape. Though bleeding may look as if it would cause considerable damage to the tree, that's not the case. Even if large amounts of sap are lost, there is no apparent long-term damage. However, many people find the appearance of this bleeding objectionable.  Pruning during the winter when temperatures remain below freezing will help minimize sap flow. So if you have any of the "bleeders" that need pruned, you might want to do it while the weather is really cold.


Houseplant Help...
This month is a good time to remember your houseplants. If any of them are getting too big for their pots simply divide them and re-pot. While you are at it give them some TLC by doing the following:

  • Prune judiciously. A light trim is usually sufficient.
  • Check for bugs. Aphids and other critters can usually be eradicated with some insecticidal soap.
  • Make sure the low winter sun isn't hurting your plants placed near windows. You can relocate them or simply rotate them periodically if necessary.
  • A different window related problem may be the cold. Leaves don't like touching cold glass.
  • If your house is really dry (like mine) make sure you mist your plants occasionally.

Keep Off The Grass...
When temperatures plummet your grass will respond by moving water to areas outside the cells. Ice accumulates in spaces between the cells and individual grass blades become brittle. Walking on frozen turf will force the ice and cells together and can cause permanent damage to your lawn. Do your best to avoid it.

"Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the most potent and the least understood. Its effects can be either direct and immediate, drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapour, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and colouring our thoughts. "

~ Stephen Lacey



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