Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

August 31, 2011

In This Issue
Growing Groundcovers
Household Hazardous Waste
The Sunflower Shake
When To Pick Apples
Slime Mold On Turf
Squash Harvest Hints
Fertilizer Figures
Inspiration

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This Week's Phots
Shelly

Greetings!

 

I worked outside awhile today doing some lightweight clean-up. I am afraid to say that it is a mess everywhere I look. The weeds are out of control, there are sticks and small limbs still lingering on the patio from the storm weeks ago and leaves are starting to fall by the dozens. This is what happens when the gardener is stuck inside. I'm certainly not trying to discount the work that Kevin and the boys have been doing. Without them the everyday maintenance would not get done so I am thankful for their efforts. I guess now would be a good time for me to work on my letting go skills. Anyone want to weigh in on how they think that will go? 

The August heat has returned.  Near 100 degree temps will be with us for the next couple of days. It looks like we may get a break from the heat on Sunday. Expected highs for our holiday weekend, 75. Sounds delightful. I was sure hoping for some rain yesterday. Nothing but a couple of sprinkles here. Doesn't look like we have a chance for rain anytime soon. Remember to keep watering going into fall. It is important - particularly for trees and shrubs. A good watering schedule now will help everything get through the winter. 

Happy Labor Day!
~ Shelly
Growing Groundcovers...
glove

Most groundcovers can be planted at any time of the year. However, fall planting takes advantage of lower temperatures and increased rainfall. Watering is reduced and plants establish a stronger root system well in advance of next summer's stressful heat.

 

Space the plants according to their size, the immediate effect desired, and their rate of growth and habit. If the individual plants are spaced too far apart, weeding can be a problem and the time required for complete coverage can be quite long. On the other extreme, planting too closely together can be a needless waste of time, money and plant materials. In addition, there will be increased competition as the plants grow into maturity. Usually, it is best to space the plants so the groundcover areas will, for the most part, be completely covered by the end of the third growing season. A staggered row-planting pattern usually will result in the quickest cover of the planting bed.

Source

 
Household Hazardous Waste...
environment

Fall clean-up of your garage or other work areas may turn up containers of old pesticides, herbicides, and other lawn and garden chemicals. These items are considered household hazardous wastes and should not be thrown in the trash. Instead, Savvygardeners should dispose of them safely through their local government. For more information simply click on the appropriate local government link below:

The Sunflower Shake...

flower

You don't have to be a Kansas Savvygardener to appreciate the beauty of sunflowers. For those of you who want to harvest your sunflower seeds and don't know when they're ready just look for these tell-tale signs:

  • The flower's head is droopy and faces the ground.
  • Most of the petals have fallen off.
  • The birds are starting to enjoy the seeds.

Gently shake the head of the flower and the seeds will fall off. Store them in a nice dry place for planting next spring!

 

When To Pick Apples...

question

Just because apples are falling from the tree, doesn't mean they are ripe enough for good eating. Here are some guides to help you decide when to pick your apples.

  • Color change: As apples mature, the skin color in areas of the stem and the calyx basin at the bottom of the apple turns from an immature green to a light-yellow color. Some apples will develop a red skin color before they are ripe, so this is not a reliable indication of maturity.
  • Flavor: This is a good guide if you are familiar with the apples you have and know how they should taste. Even if you do not know the characteristic flavor of the kind of apple you have, you can still sample slices of a few apples and decide if they have a sweet flavor. If they are not ready to harvest, they will taste starchy or immature.
  • Flesh color: As apples mature and starches change to sugars, the flesh changes from very light green to white. When you cut a thin slice and hold it up to the light you can see the difference.
  • Days from bloom: The number of days from bloom is a reliable guide for general maturity time, but weather conditions will have some influence. Some kinds of apples and approximate days from bloom to maturity are Jonathan, 135, Delicious, 145, Golden Delicious, 145, and Winesap, 155 days.
  • Seed color: The seeds of most apples change from light green to brown as the fruit ripens. This indicator should be combined with other changes since it is not absolute. The flavor of the apples, the change in color of the stem and calyx basins and flesh color are important in deciding if apples are ready to harvest.

Source

 

Slime Mold On Turf...

!

During cool and humid weather you might see large numbers of small black, gray, white or purple fruiting structures on your turf. These are slime molds, primitive organisms that are very common on turf and mulch. (Slime molds are not fungi and are no longer classified as such.) Affected areas are often several inches to 1 foot in diameter. During wet weather, the fruiting structures may appear slimy. As the structures dry out in hot weather, they become ash gray, and break up easily when touched.

 

Homeowners are often concerned that this is a disease organism that will kill their grass. But slime mold feeds on bacteria, other fungi and dead organic matter - not the grass itself. It simply uses the turf as a structure on which to grow. However, slime mold can damage turf if it completely covers leaf blades and interferes with photosynthesis. Chemical control of slime molds is not necessary. Use a broom or a heavy spray of water to dislodge the mold.

Source

 

Squash Harvest Hints...

seedlings

Don't be too hasty in harvesting all your winter squash! For longer keeping let winter squash stay on the vines as long as possible. Wait until the vines die back or there is danger of frost. Check by pressing with your thumbnail, if the skin is easily broken they are not fully matured and may not keep well.

 

When you harvest leave two to three inches of stem on the squash. Allow them to cure in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place for a couple of weeks before placing them in storage. Also, never wash your squash until just before using and never carry squash or pumpkins by the stem.

Source

 

Fertilizer Figures...

mower

Savvygardeners with cool-season grasses (bluegrass, fescue, and/or ryegrass) should plan on three applications of fertilizer each year - one in spring and two in fall. Fall is the most important time to fertilize as it really encourages strong root growth resulting in healthier growth next spring.  September is a great month for the first fall application followed by another in November. 

 

You're going to need about 1 to 1.5 pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. That's the amount of actual Nitrogen, not fertilizer product. The amount of actual nitrogen in a fertilizer product is indicated by the first digit of the N-P-K number on the label of a fertilizer bag. The N-P-K number indicates percentages by weight of the nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). For example, a bag with a N-P-K of 20-4-4 has 20 percent nitrogen. Therefore it will take 5 pounds of this fertilizer to provide 1 pound of actual nitrogen.

Finally...

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments."  

 

~  Janet Kilburn Phillips

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