Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

March 30, 2011

In This Issue
Elbow Room
The Cultivation Situation
Put A Fork In It
Befuddled By Bulbs
Are You A Good Host?
Core Aerating
Ready, Set, Mow

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Feature Articles
~All About Composting
~All About Mulch
~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
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This Week's Phots


It is another, damp chilly day and the sun is nowhere to be seen.  It tried to make a brief appearance yesterday but was swallowed up by clouds and that is where it has stayed.  I miss it.  Too many cold, chilly, damp days.  Tomorrow, a chance of rain.  Not the best weather for those attending the Royals' opening day.  It should be warmer this weekend, FINALLY!
I was pleased to see that that last weekend's dreadful weather didn't seem to harm any of the plants in bloom.  I always worry about the magnolia trees.  It seems as if every year we get a warm spell in March which triggers the buds.  They bloom in a short amount of time and then often we see a hard freeze.  I have not seen any trees with brown edges on the blooms so that is great news!  The daffodils are fine and they were quite pretty with snow on them (photos).  It is hard to remember that the warmer weather stimulates the bloom but most spring blooming flowers are adapted to perform better in cooler, even colder temperatures.  The warm spell we had really got things going.  I just noticed yesterday that several redbuds are in bloom.  Simply beautiful!
Check out tomorrow's Kansas City Star grow section.  I was recently interviewed about starting seeds.  It was great fun and I loved the opportunity to give good tips to fellow gardeners.


By the way, thanks for all the Facebook love. Eighty Savvygardeners "liked" us last week, bringing our total to over 700! Help us hit 1,000 before Summer! "Like us" here... 

~ Shelly
Elbow Room...

It is easy to sow too many seeds in a row of beets or carrots. Carrot seeds are small and angular making it difficult to scatter seeds without inadvertently dropping several of them together. Beets emerge from a capsule containing several seeds and often come up too thick. Do your best not to overseed either of these popular vegetables. Both of these crops need room for roots to expand and grow.

Carrots should be spaced about 2 to 3 inches apart, and beets 3 to 4 inches apart. Once they begin growing you can remove some of the plants in the row to attain these desirable plant spacings.


The Cultivation Situation...

Here's some advice - "Don't cultivate your garden." This may sound kind of crazy, but the truth is cultivating and deep hoeing can cause considerable damage to the shallow roots of flowers and vegetables. Also, every time you cultivate, you stir the soil and bring weed seeds to the surface where they can germinate. A two-inch layer of mulch will stop annual weeds, otherwise, cut off weeds at the surface of the soil with a sharp scuffle hoe, so in a week or 10 days, you won't have another batch to destroy.  If you do not have a scuffle hoe, pull the weeds by hand. If you start early in the season and keep them pulled regularly, it is not too big a job in a small to medium-sized garden.


Put A Fork In It...

forkOne of the trickiest parts of raising seedlings indoors is the delicate process of transplanting up to a larger peat pot. All too often the soil surrounding the roots just falls apart. Try using an ordinary table fork next time. You can loosen the plants in the seed flat without damaging the roots. Then you can open a hole for the new transplant in the new flat or pot by rocking it sideways. Finally, by sliding the tines around the delicate stem and pressing down, the transplant can be firmed in the growing medium.


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Befuddled By Bulbs...


handEvery year about this time we start getting e-mails asking about all the bulbs currently offered by retailers and garden centers. "Isn't fall the correct time to plant bulbs?" is the common question. Well, fall is the correct time to plant spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, etc...) But there's another group of "bulbs" that can be planted soon for floral displays this summer. They include begonias, dahlias, daylilies, and so many more! If you're ready to give them a try take a moment to read our Guide to Summer Flowering Bulbs in Kansas City.
Are You A Good Host?

heartSometimes gardening is a lot like hosting a party. Plants, like party guests, need to be steered toward others that will enjoy their company. The practice of companion planting, growing vegetables in proximity to helpful plants, has become quite popular over the years. Here are some of our favorite matchmaker tips:

VegetableGroup WithKeep Distance From
TomatoesCarrots, peppers, basil, marigoldMature dill, kohlrabi, potatoes
BeansCarrots, cucumber, pea, potatoes, radish, marigold, nasturtium, rosemaryGarlic, onion, shallots, fennel, gladiolus
PeasRadish, carrots, cucumbers, celery, turnipGarlic, onion, gladiolus
CarrotsBeans, radish, tomatoes, peppers, onion, sageDill, celery
CucumbersCorn, tomatoes, cabbage, radishes, dill, nasturtiumAromatic herbs, potatoes


Core Aerating...

good ideaIf you are planning to core-aerate this spring, reserve your machine now so you can get the job done in March or early-April. Coring early in the spring gives cool-season lawns a chance to recover before crabgrass and other warm-season annual weeds start to germinate.


According to K-State Research & Extension, core-aerating is one of the best things you can do for your lawn. It relieves compaction, hastens thatch decomposition, increases water infiltration and helps promote better root growth. Pay attention to the soil moisture level when coring. The soil should easily crumble when worked between the fingers. If it is too wet, the machine's tines will plug and it will merely punch holes in the wet soil, which increases compaction. If it is too dry, the tines will not be able to penetrate very deeply.


Ready, Set, Mow...


If you haven't started mowing your lawn yet, get ready to. Start by walking your property and picking up everything that shouldn't be there when mowing - toys, sticks, golf balls, whatever. Also, make sure your mower blade is sharp. A sharp blade ensures a clean cut and a better looking lawn.

Don't wait until the entire lawn needs mowing. This time of year many lawns grow in a patchy manner and there will be spots that are several inches taller than others.


"Of the seven deadly sins, surely it is pride that most commonly afflicts the gardener."

~ Michael Pollan           

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