Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

May 4, 2011

In This Issue
Preventing Black Spot
It's Not Too Late!
Tastier Tomatoes
A Fungus Among Us
Tip Top Tools
Take A Powder
The Right Height
Inspiration

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This Week's Phots
Shelly

Greetings!


May certainly arrived on the chilly side. Temperatures dipped dangerously low on Monday and Tuesday leaving a frosty covering on many lawns in the area. The Mother's Day rule of thumb for planting always seems to serve me well. I have purchased a few perennials but controlled my urges to purchase annuals. Some will say that waiting until Mother's Day puts them behind. If you are willing to take a chance and don't mind covering things you have planted, then often times it is worth the risk. I'm a little more cautious. The green flag will drop this weekend and gardeners all over town will be scurrying around filling pots and beds with annuals. If you too have been patiently waiting, get on your mark, get set, go!

Kevin and I visited Family Tree Nursery on Sunday and came home with a car load of plants. Korean spice viburnum, Montgomery astilbes, several different varieties of cone flower, monarda, delphinium and black-eyed Susan. We are getting ready to plant a new, full sun, perennial garden and I think we chose some beauties. I am a sucker for coneflower and black-eyed susan. Two of my favorite summer loving, drought tolerant plants. The flowers on both of these plants are spectacular. Now, the chore is to keep the rabbits from eating all of the newly planted plants. In past springs I have planted tiny, immature plantings only to have them eaten by a seriously hungry group of rabbits. Time to pull out the Rabbit Scram. I have had success with this product in the past and will continue to use it to keep all bunnies from grazing on my new perennials. If I can get the plants to a more mature stage I find the rabbits are less interested. I guess they prefer baby greens versus those that have been around awhile. Oh, the trials and tribulations of gardening. It is always something!

~ Shelly
Preventing Black Spot
glove

Spring rains mean you will probably need to establish a preventive spray program for your roses if they have been subject to black spot in the past. The problem with fungal diseases is that they have to be prevented - a fungicide isn't as effective once the problem is apparent. As always, it is better to buy only roses that are disease resistant to begin with.

It's Not Too Late!
shovel

Do you feel like spring is slipping away from you? Just a few weeks ago it seemed like we had all the time in the world to plant early veggies. If you're like us, hectic schedules can make prime planting time slip away. Don't panic! There's still plenty to do. In fact if you hurry you can still sneak in the following: lettuce, onions, spinach, beets, chard, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, shallots, chives and parsley.


Bonus! Soil temperatures look like they'll be on their way up next week. It's probably a great time to get your tomatoes and peppers in the ground.

Tastier Tomatoes...

seedlings

When selecting tomato transplants, choose healthy plants without any blooms. If the tomato plants have blooms or, worse, fruit before you transplant, pinch off the flowers or fruit. If tomatoes set fruit before the plant gets large enough - that is, produces enough leaves - the fruit is small and tasteless. Removing flowers or premature fruit allows the plant to produce more leaves that will make larger tomatoes throughout the growing season. The formula for successful tomato production is quite simple: Healthy leaves equal tasty fruit.

Source

A Fungus Among Us...

question

Don't be surprised if you head outside and find a yard full of mushrooms. Where do these things come from? Although wild mushrooms tend to make their appearance just about any time in woodlands they're more likely to appear in lawns following several days of wet weather which have been preceded by weeks of dry weather.

 

Mushrooms are specialized types of fungi that are important as decay microorganisms, aiding in the breakdown of logs, leaves, fallen branches, and other organic debris. This important role of mushrooms results in recycling of essential nutrients. In the vast majority of cases mushrooms are not parasitic on lawn grass and won't cause any disease problems. Just wait for a prolonged change in the weather and they will wither and disappear providing additional organic matter to your soil.

Tip Top Tools...

good idea

Here's a great way to keep your gardening hand tools clean and free from rust. Fill a 5-gallon bucket with play sand. Moisten the sand with mineral oil or even motor oil. Plunging your tools into the sand/oil mix several times before storing them will remove the dirt and leave a protective coating of oil on the metal surface.

 

Take A Powder...

question

A white powdery film on your lawn is likely an outbreak of powdery mildew. This fungal disease is favored by cool spring or fall weather, and is common in shaded areas. Kentucky bluegrass in shady areas is especially susceptible. High nitrogen levels also favor disease development.  Fortunately, while it is not very attractive, powdery mildew rarely causes significant damage to turf.

 

The Right Height...

mower

To prevent weed germination in lawns, mow frequently at the tallest recommended mowing height. Weeds germinate rapidly when turf is scalped by mowing too short or when it is not mowed frequently enough. Both mistakes decrease turf density and cause an open canopy that favors weeds. Experts recommend a range of mowing heights to meet specific turf activities. Lower mowing heights require more frequent mowing. Annual grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, are especially a problem on turfs that lack density as a result of poor mowing.

Recommended mowing heights for grass types:

  • Kentucky bluegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Tall fescue - 3.0 to 4.0 inches.
  • Fescue/bluegrass - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.
  • Bluegrass/ryegrass - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Perennial ryegrasses - 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
  • Creeping red fescues - 3.0 to 3.5 inches.

Source

 

Finally...

"There are few pleasures like really burrowing one's nose into sweet peas."


~ Angela Thirkell

 
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