Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

May 11, 2011

In This Issue
We're Cookin' Now
Winning By Thinning
Zoysia Tips
Getting Antsy About Aphids
Vine Crop Villains
No Miners Allowed
Dull Blades = Brown Blades

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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


HOT, hot, hot! Summer-like weather blew into town last Saturday really heating things up. I'm not gonna lie. It's a little too early for this kind of weather. The heat and humidity combined with gusty winds made everything in my garden appreciate the rain shower we had this morning. Hard to believe we were under a heat advisory yesterday. It is only May; what is July going to be like? Supposedly we are going to see some relief in the next couple of days. It is hard to believe we could see lows in the 50's - maybe even the 40's. Sounds pretty good right about now. It would be nice to experience some more spring-like temperatures for a few more weeks. Summer will be here soon enough. What's the rush?

My front garden is bursting with color. One of my favorite shrubs this time of year is the weigela wine and roses (photo). The hot pink flowers that grace this plant, mixed with the darker maroon foliage is spectacular. It is in full bloom along with the salvia May night. For the shadier part of the garden I have electric lime and creme brulee coral bells along side lady's mantle. And as a filler I have planted cransebill geranium, Elke. It really looks great! It sure does make you feel good when a good landscape plan comes together.


I was listening to Here and Now on NPR today and heard this piece on manure. It was really interesting. Check it out...

~ Shelly
We're Cookin' Now...

If you are a cook as well as a Savvygardener one of the great joys of summer is stepping outside to pick or cut fresh herbs for preparing a fine meal In addition to their obvious use in foods herbs are great additions to most gardens because they are generally pest resistant, smell great, and many are a joy to behold.


Conveniently, most herbs have similar growing habits and requirements. Because their essential oils are much more concentrated under cool growing conditions you will want to locate them in a cool but sunny area which receives at least 4 to 6 hours of full sun each day. Areas exposed to the morning sun are better than those areas with mid-day and afternoon sun.


If you didn't start any herbs from seed buy some healthy looking plants from your favorite plant source. However anise, coriander, dill and fennel aren't too fond of being transplanted.  Sow their seeds directly in the garden.



For a list of over 30 herbs and specific details about growing them check out Growing Herbs in our Feature Article section.

Winning By Thinning...

A bountiful vegetable patch requires thinning when crops are grown from seed. Be aware that vegetables behave like weeds when they are overabundant. Overcrowding among root crops causes poorly formed roots. A good thinning program will:

  • Reduce the competition among seedlings for soil nutrients and water.
  • Promote better air circulation around the plants thereby reducing the chances of disease development.
  • Ultimately make higher yields possible.

Here's a list of common garden vegetables and recommendations for their spacing.


Zoysia Tips...


Zoysia lawns are finally looking good all around the metro. Now that they are greening up and growing you will want to make sure you do the following:


  • Reduce thatch layers from zoysia by verticutting or core aerating. 
  • Sod or sprig zoysia lawns to fill in bare areas. 
  • Fertilize zoysia lawns with high nitrogen to promote green up and summer growth. 
  • Mow zoysia to 2 to 2.5 inches tall. 
Getting Antsy About Aphids...


When you see ants crawling on your garden plants, look closely for aphids as well. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant and even taking them underground into the anthill for overnight safety (seriously!). The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary water substance secreted by aphids, on which ants feed.



Vine Crop Villains...


Savvygardeners need to be vigilant for the two most destructive insect foes of vine crops - the cucumber beetle and the squash bug. Cucumber beetles, like most vegetable insects must be controlled early to prevent damage to the seedling and transmission of diseases like bacterial wilt. Planting a trap crop, applying neem oil soap and using row covers are effective non-chemical methods to manage this insect pest. Squash bugs can be repelled with insecticidal soap in addition to garlic and pepper sprays.


No Miners Allowed...


Many species of boxwood are attacked by the boxwood leaf miner, whose activity becomes very noticeable in mid spring. American boxwood is particularly susceptible. Blister-like orange spots are a sign of the larvae of this insect, which hides between the leaf surfaces and feeds there until it emerges. The adults, orange in color and gnat-like, are easily controlled with a pyrethroid insecticide. Heavier infestations should be treated with a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid.


Dull Blades = Brown Blades...


Have you ever noticed your grass turning brown at the tips several days after mowing? A quick look under the mowing deck might explain it all. Chances are, your mower blade is not sufficiently sharp.  A quick visit to the local hardware store will fix the problem - probably for less than $10.


Remember to sharpen your mower blade several times each season. It's even a good idea to keep a spare blade on hand. That way you always have a sharp one.


"The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom."

~ Henry Mitchell

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