Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener


February 16, 2011

In This Issue
Shrub Pruning Calendar
Too Early Bloomers?
Clues In The Melting Snow
A Clean Start
Spring Into Sweet Peas
Begonias, By Golly
Whiteflies and Houseplants
Inspiration

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~All About Composting
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Seeds Indoors
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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
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~ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
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~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
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This Week's Phots
Shelly

Greetings!


Gosh, where do I start? The recent weather has been unbelievable. I'm not even bothered by today's relative gloominess. It is still pleasant out and I am taking every chance I can to get outside and enjoy it. I walked to the gym this morning and my senses were on overload. I listened, looked and smelled as I walked. No need for a iPod and ear buds. Who needs music when nature is providing so many sights and sounds? The birds are loudly tweeting, the ducks and geese are swimming, the creeks are once again babbling and yes, there are signs of Spring everywhere. It sure has been delightful and I could not feel better or be happier. Wait until tomorrow, low 70's... Wow!

So if you are like me you are dying to get out into the garden to do whatever. Caution, the soil is very wet and digging in it will cause you problems down the road. Wait a few more days, maybe after this weekend once things have had a chance to dry out. You will know the soil is ready when a handful falls apart like a piece of chocolate cake. I am pretty sure that right now you'd just end up with a mud pie. Me, I can never get enough of clean-up so I will concentrate on sweeping the sand, salt and ice-melt out of the garage. I am sick of that stuff coming inside. It has found its way into some pretty peculiar places. I will be outside which is for now, far better than anything.
~ Shelly
Shrub Pruning Calendar...
pruners
When we started Savvygardener.com one of the things we wanted to provide was information that was truly useful to area gardeners based on our weather, our climate, our everything. A great example of this is one of our most popular and informative articles - The Shrub Pruning Calendar. A Savvygardener.com exclusive, this is the Kansas City area gardener's definitive guide to when, and when not, to prune a wide variety of shrubs. Check it out! We'll bet it answers some questions and clears up a lot of mystery.
Too Early Bloomers?
flower

South facing gardens with lots of sun may soon see adventurous bulbs pushing through the ground - especially snow drops, crocus, and early daffodils. Keep an eye out! Matted leaves and dead grass left over from fall may create a barrier to these upstarts. Help them a little by gently raking away any debris and allowing the foliage and flowers to break through the soil more easily. 


Clues In The Melting Snow...
sunny

It's funny how important the winter can be to gardening. Recent snow is fading fast but did you notice where it melted away fastest? Those are the sunniest and warmest spots of your garden. Knowing the location of these microclimates may be important for future plantings. These warmer areas might be good choices for your more tender plantings or even a perennial that is only marginally suited to our growing zone. 


A Clean Start...

seeds

Here's another important tip for seed starters. Make sure you thoroughly wash last year's plastic seed-starting containers. Believe me it makes a difference! And if your seedlings have had disease problems in the past, you'll need to use a mixture containing 10 percent household bleach and water to really sterilize the containers. 

  

Spring Into Sweet Peas...

peas

Sweet peas are perfect for gardeners who can't wait for spring. They can go into the ground any time the ground isn't wet from early March to late April. They'll wait until conditions are favorable to germinate. Top performers in our area include:

  • Little Marvel, Green Arrow, Frosty, Knight, Sparkle, Sugar Bon or Sugar Snap 
  • Thin-podded Oriental types - often called snow peas - broaden the possibilities to include the Dwarf Grey Sugar and Mammoth Sugar varieties 

Peas usually do best where you can plant two to three rows, 4 to 6 inches apart, to allow the weak, spindly vines to support each other. Otherwise, you generally need a trellis.

 

Begonias, By Golly...

shovel

Savvygardeners who want to have tuberous begonias for summer-long flowering in pots, beds, or hanging baskets outside should start the tubers indoors during late February or early March. Sprout the tubers by placing them, hollow side up, fairly close together in shallow, well-drained pans. Use a mix of equal parts perlite, sphagnum, peat moss, and vermiculite; or chopped sphagnum moss and perlite. This should be kept damp (not soggy) in a shady window with a temperature in the lower 60s. Transplant the tubers to pots or baskets when growth starts, normally within 3 weeks. Place them outside only after all threat of frost has passed.

Source

Whiteflies and Houseplants...

houseplants

This time of year whiteflies can become more prevalent and attack your houseplants. Worse yet, if infected plants are moved to the garden in the spring, the whiteflies can spread to other plants in the garden. Control them now with insecticidal soap applied to the underside of the leaves every few weeks. 

Finally...

"In a serener Bright,
In a more golden light
I see
Each little doubt and fear,
Each little discord here
Removed.
"

Emily Dickinson     

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