Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

April 6, 2011

In This Issue
Tuckered Out Tulips
Simple Thinning
Circular Logic
The Forsythia Clock
Daffodil's Deadly Secret
Second Chance Dandelions
The Hard Facts

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This Week's Phots


Did anyone else think it was a little too warm on Sunday?  I believe we broke a new record with the temperature reaching 90.  I don't know about you but I'm not quite ready for it to be that warm. Mother Nature sure is toying with us. Warm, hot and frosty (photo) in a matter of three short days. Riding the weather roller coaster is often frustrating, particularly this time of year. Trying to predict what the weather will be from one day to the next is just too difficult.  Glad I'm not a meteorologist and just a gardener.

I'm in Charleston, South Carolina this week enjoying some time with girlfriends. We have rented a house on the ocean and it is wonderful!  I love the sound of crashing waves and the call of seagulls. The sights, the smells, it is all so intoxicating. I'm not going to lie, I have a love affair with the ocean. It provides me with a sense of serenity. I do love Kansas but it sure is nice to experience other climates occasionally. Wouldn't you agree?

I can't wait! Our friends at Johnson Farms open their doors this week so pay them a visit for all of your spring time planting needs.

~ Shelly
Tuckered Out Tulips...

Unfortunately it's not uncommon for many modern tulip varieties to "wear out" after a few years and eventually produce insignificant blooms or no blooms at all. Here are some tips to increase the chances of perennial blooming of your tulips:

  • Plant the bulbs at the depth indicated on the packaged they arrived in.
  • Water them - especially in the fall - to help develop strong roots.
  • Clip off flower heads after they have bloomed.
  • Do not remove the foliage until it has turned brown and withered. 


Simple Thinning...

Last week we warned you about sowing vegetable seeds too close together. Unfortunately some seeds (carrots are a good example) are impossibly small and difficult to evenly sow even by the savviest of Savvygardeners. If your carrots (and lettuce, spinach, and beets for that matter) start coming up in overcrowded masses it's pretty easy to thin them. Simply pluck them from the ground or snip their tops off with a pair of small scissors. 

Circular Logic...


A popular and effective way to prevent disease in the vegetable garden is called crop rotation. By rotating the location of vegetable plantings within the garden each season you can greatly reduce the likelihood of soil-borne disease. This method works best when you rotate crop families from place to place and the rotation includes at least three families. The effectiveness of crop rotation is diminished when the total gardening area is quite small. Just do your best! Here's a list of the most common home garden vegetables and their associated families:  

Family Family Members
AlliaceaeChive, garlic, leek, onion, shallot
ApiaceaeCarrot, celery, parsley, parsnip
AsteraceaeEndive, lettuce
BrassicaceaeBroccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga, turnip
ChenopodiaceaeBeet, Swiss chard, spinach
ConvolvulaceaeSweet potato
CurcurbitaceaeCucumber, gourd, melons, pumpkin, squash
FabaceaeLima bean, pea, snap bean, soy bean
SolanaceaeEggplant, pepper, potato, tomato


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The Forsythia Clock...


When the forsythia have finished blooming, it is a sign to do several things.

  1. Apply a preemergent herbicide such as Preen (if desired) to garden beds as the soil temperature is now conducive to weed growth.
  2. Rake back mulch around roses and discard.
  3. Prune your roses and dig in a balanced fertilizer.
  4. Apply a crabgrass preventer to lawns if you had a problem last year.



Daffodil's Deadly Secret...

gloveIf you decide to cut some flowering bulbs from the garden make sure you keep the daffodils separated from other cuttings. Daffodil stems secrete a fluid that can drastically reduce the life of other cut flowers in the same vase. After a couple of days in a vase by themselves they should be OK for sharing the same space. 

Second Chance Dandelions...

good idea

Readers of our newsletter know that we recommend that dandelions be controlled in the fall. However, if you missed the fall application, a second opportunity for dandelion control is approaching. Research by Purdue University has shown that good control can be achieved with an herbicide applied during or soon after the first flush of flowers. Use a combination product that contains 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba. Examples would include products such as Trimec, Weed Out, Weed-B-Gon and Weed Free Zone.

We're obviously not opposed to using chemicals when warranted. However, we do encourage you to use them sensibly. So...

  • If you have only a few dandelions, consider spot treatment rather than a blanket application. Not only is this better for the environment, it will save you some money as well.
  • Avoid spraying on windy days! There are many ornamental plants that are very sensitive to drift from herbicides (synthetic as well as natural). Don't let them become collateral damage.


The Hard Facts...


Plants bought from greenhouses (locally or by mail order) need to be "hardened off", or acclimatized, before they are permanently placed in the garden. Basically you're just preparing them for a rather significant change in temperatures, humidity, and sunlight. Start by placing newly purchased plants outside only during the day, bringing them in at night as protection from cool, night temperatures. Gradually leave the plants outside for longer periods of time until they have fully acclimated and can be planted. 


"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."

~ Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe

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