Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

August 24, 2011

In This Issue
Some Serious Storms
Tomato Trickery
Salad Serendipity
The Great Divide
Reinvigorate Wisteria
Weed Whackers
Late Season Grubs

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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



I was finally able to get out in the car yesterday and was astonished by the amount of damage in our area from last week's storms. You have probably seen the pictures that Kevin posted on our Facebook page. Both Thursday night's and Friday night's storms were fierce. Torrential rain, winds with gusts as high as 80 mph, intense lightning and thunder that was impossible to sleep through. A couple of restless nights for sure. We were luckier than some but still have some clean-up do to after a mighty big branch broke loose and fell out of a large oak in our back yard. The branch just missed our generator and air-conditioning units. It crushed our gate, pulled all electrical away from the house and took down a small section of our gutters. One arborvitae was damaged pretty extensively and will probably have to be replaced. All in all we are feeling lucky to have sustained minimal damage. (Special thanks to Ryan Lawn & Tree for their quick, clean, and efficient work clearing the damage and hauling off the debris.) 
The heat has returned but only for a couple of days (thank goodness). I was getting spoiled by those 60 degree mornings and mild 80 degree afternoons. Oh right, it is still August and 100 degree days are not that unusual. The good news, relatively cooler temperatures will be back for the weekend. Rainfall has been plentiful with more expected this weekend. If you are thinking about reseeding your lawn now is the time. Warm days plus cool evenings are optimal for grass seed germination. 

Thanks for all the well wishes on my recovery. I'm feeling better every day but I am still stuck in the house for another week or so (doctor's orders) so if you you would like to share your fall gardening ideas I would love to hear them. I will have to live vicariously through you for now as I cannot feed my own gardening appetite. Let me know what you're planning and planting. I hope to hear from you!
~ Shelly

Some Serious Storms...

So, how did last week's storm treat you?  Driving around our neighborhood we sure saw a lot of tree damage.  That made us think we should share some tree care facts with fellow Savvygardeners.


First of all it's interesting to note that trees are biologically engineered to adjust to wind loading - the straight wind from one direction applied evenly over the stem, branches and tree leaves.  As trees mature they learn about the regular stresses applied to them by wind loading and develop strength and flexibility in the appropriate areas.


Despite Mother Nature's keen design some trees just don't do as well in a storm as others.  Some of the most susceptible include silver maples, Siberian elms, willows, green ash, and hackberry.  A strong storm can inflict considerable damage on these and other trees possibly reducing their life expectancy and/or simply disfiguring them.


Here's some good practices to follow to protect your trees from future damage:

  • Young trees need to adjust to the wind environment.  When staking a young tree do it loosely so the stem can move and bend in the wind.  Keep the ties in place for no more than one growing season to ensure a well-established root system.  After the first growing season remove the tree support. 
  • Practice proper pruning techniques.  Proper pruning minimizes a number of structural problems that occur in association with new wood growth around a pruned branch.
  • Eliminate co-dominant branches.  Prune forked branches and branches that arise opposite each other on the stem early in the life of the tree. 
  • Keep trees as healthy as possible with timely watering and proper fertilization.  Healthy, vigorous trees adjust more quickly to changes in the environment, are more wind firm and react more effectively to storm damage.
  • Do not over-fertilize your trees with nitrogen.  Doing so can increase the crown surface making them more susceptible to storm damage.
  • Eliminate lop-sided crowns.  Prune branches to produce a reasonably symmetrical crown.
  • Keep the tree growing upright with one main stem.  Prune away branches that compete in height with the main stem.  Eliminate branches with acute or narrow crotches.


Tomato Trickery...
good idea

Longer shadows and shorter days a sure sign that is gradually coming to an end. Make sure you don't miss out on any tomatoes by employing a couple of tricks to get the most out of your tomato plants.

  • By removing some of the leaves, more sunlight will be allowed to reach your tomatoes. The shady protection they provide is not needed as much now that fall is closing in.
  • Lopping the tops off the plants will help ensure that the plants' energy will go into finishing existing fruit production rather than the now hopeless task of producing new fruit.

These tricks (and a little luck) will help keep those tomato plants producing as long as possible. 

Salad Serendipity...


There's still time to seed some fall salad crops for this season. With milder weather and rainfall (hopefully) around the corner some fall-season vegetables can still be seeded now with a decent chance of developing before freezing weather stops their progress. To increase your odds, try lettuce, radishes, and spinach. These salad crops grow rapidly and can withstand a light freeze. A hard early freeze could stop everything in its tracks but it's certainly worth the risk for fresh salad greens.

The Great Divide...


Savvygardeners who took good care of their perennials this summer might notice them bursting from their beds. Sound familiar? If so, they need some relief. Once they are done blooming for the year it's time to divide them.

You'll know your plants need to be divided if:

  • They are spreading beyond your desired range for them.
  • The flowers are not producing as well as in the past.
  • The center of the clump of flowers is dying.
  • The lower areas of foliage are sickly.

For a quick but effective description of the dividing process you can read "Spring Blooming Perennials" in our Features section.

Reinvigorate Wisteria...


Root pruning is a practice sometimes used in late fall to restore blooming on older Wisteria plants. It serves to check top growth and favor flower production and must be combined with summer pruning to be effective. Use a spade to cut vertically into the soil (about 18 inches deep) and about four feet from the main trunk, all around the vine.

Weed Whackers...


Dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf weeds that were a problem this spring and summer should be controlled this fall. The period from late September to mid-November is the ideal time to control broadleaf weeds in turfgrass because broadleaf weeds are most susceptible to herbicides at this time. The turf and weeds must be actively growing for this to be effective so be sure your lawn is well-watered before applying. Apply on a sunny day with moderate temperatures, no wind, ample soil moisture and no rain in the 24-hour forecast. An herbicide containing two or more active ingredients including 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, triclopyr, or clopyralid will control most broadleaf weeds with one application. As always, be careful when using broadleaf herbicides as they may damage the stuff you want to keep - like flowers, trees, shrubs, or vegetables.

Editor's Note: (We recognize that the best and safest controls are cultural. i.e. keep your turf healthy. However we also know that many of our readers will use herbicides. Using them effectively is certainly better than using too much at the wrong times of year.) 



Late Season Grubs...


If your lawn has large dead patches, check to be sure that the damage has not been caused by grubs. This is easily done by pulling up handfuls of dead turf. If the turf comes up like a carpet, then you have grubs. Chemical treatments this late in the season are best done with trichlorfon (Dylox, Bayer 24-hr Grub Control). It is important that this product be watered in immediately after application. Waiting as little as 24 hours can reduce effectiveness to the point that grubs are not controlled. Apply 1/4 inch of water to insure the insecticide reaches the grubs.  

A non-chemical alternative may be beneficial nematodes. There are a number of commercially available products that claim effectiveness against white grubs (the ones that work against Japanese Beetle grubs are of little use in the Kansas City area at this time).


"It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves."

~  Robert Louis Stevenson

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