Missouri Organic

This Week's Timely Tips from the Savvygardener

October 5, 2011

In This Issue
Don't Dig Too Deep
Bedtime For Gardens?
Why Isn't My Red Maple Red?
Oak Galls?
Deer Deterrents
Poinsettia Planning
If It's Growing, We're Mowing

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~Pruning Clematis 
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~Summer-Flowering Bulb Care
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~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



Yesterday's unseasonably warm weather had me out in my gardens taking a few notes. I jotted down notes on plants that grew well this summer and notes on those that did not. The notes of things that didn't survive at all are the most painful. I lost a Honey-maid holly, three Montgomery astilbes, a Melting Fire and two Lime Rickey coral bells. The holly was lost to lack of moisture. When we were on vacation this summer we were gone during the hottest and driest part of the summer. The holly was planted among a few large trees competing with large established roots for moisture. I have always had to keep an eye on it and forgot to mention it to the young man who cared for my gardens while we were away. I have no one to blame but myself. An unfortunate loss and a plant I will plan on replacing if not this fall then the next. The astilbes were planted in a spot that got too much late afternoon sun. I had obviously not taken good notes on that particular spot. That has now been corrected. The other plants were lost to one hot summer. Not much of an excuse but that is all I can attribute it to. 


I know I wished for rain last week but I guess I'm going to have to wish again. It is DRY! Next chance for some rain? Maybe next Monday. Hopefully it will happen sooner. I wouldn't mind a cool rainy day right about now. Notice I said cool, not cold. I don't want to give the impression that I'm ready for cold weather. One of my girlfriends teased me today by saying, "You know this weather can only last so long. It is going to get cold again and snow". I'm pretty sure she is tired of me talking about how I wish this weather we are experiencing could last forever. I'm not going to let her spoil my fantasy of living in a perfect climate. What fun would that be?

~ Shelly

Don't Dig Too Deep...


Planting a tree this fall? Great idea! Just make sure you do it right. The planting depth of a new tree is extremely important and often done improperly. Trees that are planted too deep may not grow as fast or be as healthy as those planted properly. 


Here's what to do. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shallower than the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil. The root collar (where the trunk and roots meet) should be at least even with, and as much as an inch and a half higher than, the final grade.

Bedtime For Gardens?

We are often asked how and when to "put the garden to bed." The term "putting the garden to bed" means preparing the garden for winter and the weather will dictate when that date is. Our first frost is normally in mid-October (any time now). How "hard" that first frost is will help you decide whether or not it is time to cut back all perennials and rid the garden of all annuals. We always like to squeeze as much time as possible out of the fall garden knowing that once that hard frost hits winter is well on its way. We'll keep you posted on the weather and when that first hard frost is coming.


Why Isn't My Red Maple Red?


Why do some red maple trees have yellow fall foliage instead of brilliant red? Although fall color will vary with different environmental conditions, in many cases the yellow foliage of these red maples is simply due to the genetics of the individual tree. Unnamed red maple trees grown from seed are not always brilliant red. They have highly variable fall color. If you want a red maple with red foliage in the fall, choose named, vegetatively propagated red maple cultivars such as Red Sunset, Magnificent Magenta or Autumn Flame. October Glory has outstanding foliage color but is late in acclimating for winter and can be damaged by early cold snaps. However, even these "good" cultivars will vary in the level of "redness" from year to year. A number of things can reduce the intensity of color including extreme heat or drought during the summer and cloudy days and warm nights in the fall.


Oak Galls?


What are those round bumpy lesions that are appearing on some local oak trees? Very possibly Oak Galls. A number of tiny non-stinging wasps, mites and flies are the culprits behind abnormal growths that develop on the leaves of twigs of oak trees. These galls can include growths that are round, spiny, flattened, elongated or star-shaped.


Generally, these gall insects do not cause significant damage to their hosts though some of the leaf galls can cause deformity to make a tree unsightly. Also, severe infestations of twig galls can cause twig dieback or, in rare cases, death.  However, just because a twig is covered with galls does not mean that it is dead.  Twigs that otherwise look like a solid mass of galls may still leaf out in the spring. More details and a photo are available here...


Deer Deterrents...

good idea

To protect your young trees from deer damage, there are a number of deterrents you can try. Hang bars of strong-scented soap, mesh bags filled with human hair, paper bags of dried blood (bloodmeal), or strips cut from white plastic bags on trees that are likely to be attacked. Remember, deer will become accustomed to most any deterrent, so alternating items will help.



Poinsettia Planning...


Thankfully, Christmas is still a way off but if you are planning on displaying home-grown poinsettias it's time to start planning. Poinsettias are short-day plants and must be tricked into blooming for Christmas. Follow these steps: Find a dark, cool (around 55 F) place where the plant will be kept at "night". It must be absolutely dark as even short exposure to a light bulb will throw the process out of kilter. Place the poinsettia in this dark place at 5 PM and leave it there until 8 AM the following day. Between 8 AM and 5 PM place it in a sunny window where temperatures will remain near 70 F. Do this for 11 weeks, watering and fertilizing as usual. With care and patience you should have healthy, blooming poinsettias for the holidays.



If It's Growing, We're Mowing...


When do Savvygardeners stop mowing their lawns? When the grass stops growing of course. As long as it continues to grow keep bluegrass cut to 2 inches and tall fescue to 2 inches. 


Don't forget to keep the leaves from piling up and smothering the grass below!


"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter. "  


~  Carol Bishop Hipps

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