Now that the snow is going lets fertilize our lawns.
   
John Fogerty - Centerfield
John Fogerty - Centerfield

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Do you recognize this gardening tool?

 

 

 

 

You have worked hard all day and it is now time to relax at home. I think that the best place to relax

is in your back yard, in your favorite chair, breathing the fresh air that your lawn made for you while

you were at work. Your lawn has been cleaning all the impurities around your house and changing it

to clean oxygen while you were working, and it is ready for you now. Did you know that just 625

square feet of grass--30' by 20'--supplies all the oxygen that a person needs each day? The average home lawn is 5000 sq. ft., producing enough oxygen for eight people each day. When talking trees

it will take two 100-foot tall trees to do the same thing for eight people. You thought it was just grass to mow!

 

This year let us start from scratch with your lawn. I want you to walk on your lawn and look at it closely. Look at the color of the grass, the density of the grass, weeds that are beginning to develop, bare

spots in the grass, and exposure to sun and shade. I want you to sit down with this information and decide what you have to do to make the lawn better this year. The color of the grass should be deep green. This color will improve when you fertilize your lawn. Fertilizer applied during April will quickly darken the color of the grass and help thicken areas that seem to be a little thin. Grass that is dark green and thick will have fewer weeds and discourage future weed development. Ask any real estate agent and they will tell you that a home with a good green lawn will sell faster than a lawn covered

 with weeds.

 

If weeds are present now, they are perennial and will return each year. If you have thin spots or bare spots in your lawn, now is the time to fill them in with fresh grass seed. If you do not plant these areas, Mother Nature will do it for you and she will use her own mixture of what we consider weeds. If

you are planting grass seed, remember that the lawn with weed problems cannot be treated until the new grass seed is up and growing. The weed killer will kill the newly germinating seedlings; you must wait until the plants have grown enough to mow twice before you apply the weed killer. If your lawn contains more perennial weeds and fewer open spots, concentrate on those weeds now and reseed

in the fall. Perennial weeds will get bigger and in the weeks to come, producing hundreds of seeds

and making the problem even worse. Crabgrass, for example, can produce several thousand seeds

per plant each fall.

 

If the entire lawn has a weed problem, fertilize it to thicken the grass and prevent future weed growth. Combination weed killer and fertilizer products such as Bonide weed and feed or Turf Trust broadleaf weed control with Gallery are available at your local garden center. Apply when you see that the dandelion plant is beginning to flower. Apply the product when the grass is wet or covered with the morning dew. Wet grass will catch the dry granular product better and the moisture on the leaf will dissolve the weed killer so the leaf can absorb it quickly and begin to destroy the weeds. Make sure

that there is no rain for the next 24 hours! Did you know that when the temperature of asphalt or concrete is 100 degrees or more, your lawn will be a pleasant 75 degrees? The grass works like an air conditioner around your home to help keep it cooler. Remember, it is just grass.

 

If your weeds are scattered all over the lawn, spot treat those weeds with a liquid weed killer such as Bonide "Weed Beater Ultra" or Fertilome "Weed free zone spray." Both these products can be applied

to the lawn as soon as weeds are visible and work even when the temperatures are still cold.

Both will also kill ajuga, ground ivy, and violets, which are difficult to control. Remember that a good thick lawn will also absorb unwanted noise. Grass is the best and safest surface for your children to play on. Grass will help to keep the house cleaner by trapping dust. Grass prevents erosion problem caused by heavy rains because the roots knit the soil together trapping runoff water. One last thing, when was the last time you saw a sign on a lawn that said " KEEP OFF THE GRASS"? Today grass seed is stronger than ever and you can play on it all you want without hurting it, so do. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Dandeloins wild flowers or weeds

 

 

Are you the type of person who looks at the lawn and panics if you see one yellow flower from the dandelion plant in bloom? The dandelion is Mother Nature's best and most adaptable wildflower and it will thrive like no other, even when you routinely mow it down.

 

To the homeowner, it is a pesky weed, to the herbalists a valuable herb with many medicinal uses as well as culinary qualities. The foliage can be used in salads and teas, fresh picked greens are wonderful on a sandwich, and the flowers are used to make wine. Dandelions are a rich source of vitamin A, B complex, C and D, as well as many minerals like iron, potassium, and zinc.

 

So what is the big deal with this plant? Why does everyone hate it and why is there so much money spent by home owners to kill it when it appears in their lawn? The dandelion is more difficult to eradicate than any other plant because of its ability to survive in more adverse growing conditions than anything else growing around it. Gardeners hate this plant and when they try to dig it up and remove it, the dandelion will spread even faster. Unless you remove the entire plant it will return to your lawn. If you break off a piece of the plant and leave it in the soil, all your digging was for nothing. If this is true, then why would you purchase a dandelion digger or weeding tool? Many dandelions have told me that these tools actually help them reproduce faster--they love this invention.

 

Dandelions are a perennial plant; the plant can make seeds without cross pollination, so a flower can fertilize itself. This is where the problem begins for the gardener. Most flowers can disperse seed the day after the flower opens if you mow your lawn.

 

The dandelion seed can germinate in a few weeks after it comes in contact with soil or lie dormant in the soil for years. The dandelion that is bright yellow today will change almost overnight to a white, rounded seed head flower, like a puff ball. Each seed is attached to a parachute-like growth that will carry it far and wide when the wind begins to blow in your yard.

 

Dandelions have many functions in nature; believe it or not the plant was introduced into the Midwest from Europe to provide food for the honeybees in early spring. Look at the dandelions growing in your lawn on a nice day and you will see our native bees collecting the pollen to make honey that is much needed after a long cold winter. Dandelions have the ability to hold soil in place like no other wildflower, preventing erosion because of their tremendous tap root system and wide-spreading foliage that grows like an umbrella, deflecting the heavy rain away.

 

The foliage of the dandelion is lance-shaped, growing long, up to 12 inches. It resembles a series of teeth, giving its name in old-time France, "Dent-de-lion," which means "lion's tooth." The foliage grows in a whirl or rosette, making a perfect circle of foliage like a bouquet of greens; the flowers emerge from the center of the foliage. The flowers grow on straw-like tubular hollow stems up to 12 inches tall. The flower buds open quickly as the days warm up to reveal a multi-petal yellow flower that is somewhat daisy-like with no center. Each flower petal is 1/16 to 1/8 inch wide and 3/4 to 1 inch long, and each one of these petals can and will make a single seed.

 

Dandelions will grow in any soil type: sandy or clay-like, wet soil or dry soil--they do prefer a sunny place to grow but will do very well in partial shade. It does not matter if your soil is acid or alkaline but they prefer a slightly acid soil, so if you can lime regularly you will have fewer living in your lawn.

A good friend, former Agriculture Extension man, and longtime turf expert, Ashton Ritchie, has always told the homeowners he works with that if the lawn is thick and green, dandelions will not become a problem. If the grass is thick, the seeds will not get enough sunlight to germinate and the healthy grass will choke them out if they do germinate. Ashton will tell you that dandelions grow in thin lawns or dead spots where sunshine wakes up the seed and helps Mother Nature to cover the soil with foliage and protect it.

 

Dandelions are the most aggressive broadleaf weed in our lawns and do more damage than all the others combined. Dandelions will kill your grass by making its whirl of foliage larger; this will push down that grass plant with a thick sun-blocking umbrella of leaves to smother the grass plant. The bigger the dandelion plant grows, the more grass plants it is able to kill and the more area in your lawn it will control, leaving you with less grass and more weeds

 

There is hope for those of you who would prefer to have more grass than weeds, and that is with the use of a broadleaf weed control products that can be applied at this time of the year. Mother Nature has divided her plants into two families, the Monocots and Dicots. Grasses are Monocots and broadleaf plants are Dicots. Through garden technology, we have been able to develop weed control products that can be used in our lawns that can control either one of the families of plants without hurting the other. The best time of the year to control the dandelion is now--while the plant is just beginning to develop and most of the flowers have not formed.

 

It is best to use a combination product that contains a fertilizer especially formulated for the lawn needs and a broadleaf weed killer. The product must be applied when the lawn is moist (morning dew), so the product can stick to the dandelion foliage and be absorbed into the leaf to be taken down to the roots and kill it.

 

The fertilizer in the combination product will feed the grass plants trying to grow near the dying dandelion plant. This fertilized grass plant will become stronger and will quickly fill in the hole in the lawn that remains as the dandelion dies, preventing future seeds from germinating and replacing it. The product works best if no rain is in the forecast for 24 hours, giving the weed killer time to work properly. Keep pets and children off the wet lawn until the grass dries.

 

Some common names of these products: if you are on a 4 step lawn program, use Step 2, also called Weed and Feed. Or you can use a liquid weed killer like Weed Beater Ultra, or Weed out by Fertilome. if you're using a liquid weed killer, an application of straight fertilizer is also recommended.

 

If you're going to eat the greens, pick them before they flower and while they are young because the foliage will get bitter once it makes flowers on the plant. I always soak the individual leaves in a sink full of cold water for an hour before using them to remove any bitterness and white sap in the foliage. If you treat your grass with weed killers do not eat foliage and do not place it in compost piles.

 

New organic products like corn gluten will also kill dandelion seeds if applied to the lawn in the spring and fall season, but will not kill mature plants.

 

If the dandelions are out of your lawn and growing on the side of the road, smile because they are one of Mother Nature's Wildflowers and have a purpose in nature--ENJOY.

 

 

Kenny Rogers Baseball Song -
Kenny Rogers Baseball Song - "The Greatest"
The right grass seed for your lawn
  

Have you ever walked into a garden center looking for a package of grass seed and found yourself looking at a wall filled with many different type of blended grass seed packages and wondered, "Which is right for me?" It's almost as confusing as going to the grocery store and trying to pick a box of cereal for breakfast! (I think I will have toast.)

 

Here is what I want you to do before you go to the garden center this fall. Take a piece of paper and answer these questions before you leave. How big is the area, length by width; if not sure pace it off and write down how many paces; the store attendant can help you determine the size of the area to be seeded.

 

  • Is the area sunny or shady?
  • If a combination of the two, when is it sunny and when is it shady, how long for each and at what time of the day is it sunny or shady?
  • Now take a shovel or garden trowel and dig a hole in the area to be seeded and see how deep the top soil is, 3 inches...6 inches deep? it will matter.
  • Also what is under the top soil, sand, clay, yellow hard pan? It will make a difference in the seed you will need to use. Is the area flat, does it slope or is it on the side of a hill? When it rains does the water sit on the surface? If so, how long?
  • Do you have trees growing on this area to be seeded? Will you be adding seed under the trees, and are the trees evergreen or leaf type?
  • Is there moss growing on this area now; have you ever applied lime or lime products to this area?
  • Have you ever had a soil test done? Are you adding new top soil over the existing soil--and how much new soil?
  • If there is grass growing there now, how much of the area is grass compared to weeds...or are you starting from scratch?
  • Have you used a weed killer product on this area lately, like Turf Builder Plus 2 or a Crabgrass preventer plus fertilizer. How long ago?
  • What will happen to the lawn when it is all growing and green: kids playing on it occasionally, or every day, football, baseball, or are you just going to look at it?
  • Do you have an irrigation system or do you drag out the hose when it needs to be watered? Or do you not water the lawn at all during the summer months?
  • Does your town have a water ban every summer?
  • Do you fertilize it during the year? How often will it be fed, with organic or regular lawn food and will you use a weed killer if needed?
  • Do you have animals and are they allowed to play on the grass, like a fenced in back yard?
  • Is the lawn area wide open to the wind and is it windy there?
  • Are you on the street (possible road salt), near a pond or wetlands?
  • How often do you cut your lawn and how short or tall do you like it?
  • One last question...do you care what the neighbors think about your lawn, do you just want it green or do you want the perfect lawn and the best on the street?

(Maybe I will buy Cheerios for breakfast!)

 

If you still want to plant grass seed, take this information to the garden center and they will help you select the right grass seed combination for your new lawn. In the Northeast you will have five families of grass seed to choose from and I want you to know how they work and where they will work best for you. There are many different types of varieties of each family member and I will leave that to the garden center expert to determine for you.

 

#1 Kentucky Bluegrass is dark green, with a medium textured blade. Blue grass can spread by making tillers and underground rhizomes, and they have the ability to make a tight-knit attractive turf. Your seed will make a new plant and as that plant matures, the plant can send out these underground rhizomes and tillers to make new plants, as a strawberry plant sends out new runners. These runners will help to thicken your lawn when it is fed regularly. Blue grass does best in a heavy soil that is well drained and has good fertility, so it must be fed several times a year, every 6 to 8 weeks to stay thick. Water requirement is moderate to high during the summer months. If watering is a problem , the grass will lose some of its color but it will recover quickly when moisture returns.

 

Mowing height is 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches--but taller during the heat of summer is recommended. The plant is more upright growing and the only type of grass plant that is self-spreading with runners. Blue grass will do best in full sun to a bit of shade late in the day or first thing in the morning. It is not recommended for shady areas as the main seed type. The size of the seed is small and the cost is more expensive than most because you get more seed per pound than most others varieties. Blue grass will take as long as 3 weeks to germinate so be patient and keep watering to insure good germination. Once it germinates it will grow as fast as the other varieties of seed. If you want a SOD LAWN look, you will have to use a high bluegrass blend of seed. Bluegrass lawns will give you the best looking lawn but they will require the most maintenance and care-- so you might want to consider a blend with other types of grass seed.

 

#2 Fine Fescue Grass is medium green, and like its name has thin and narrow blades of grass. Fine fescue will also spread with tillers and short creeping rhizome type underground stems. Fine fescue is used extensively in seed blends designed for sun and shade situations. This grass seed will germinate quickly, establish itself quickly and make a wonderful nursery grass to provide protection against erosion for a slower growing grass like bluegrass problems early on. Because this grass seed germinates quickly you will see things happening fast and it will encourage you to keep watering and caring for the new seedlings.

 

The fine fescue family also includes 'Chewing' fescue and 'Creeping Red' fescue, making this family of grasses possible to grow almost anywhere in your lawn no matter where you are planting it. Sun or shade--this is the most versatile family of turf grasses used in blended seed for turf use today. Also, insect problems are very few with these grass plants. Their biggest problem is that you must plant the seed more heavily than most because many of the varieties grow in clumps and do not spread readily in the lawn.

 

You would not plant just fine fescue grass alone as a lawn but when blended with other varieties of Creeping and Tall fescue it will make a wonderful lawn. Great in low fertility or partial shade areas, it will also tolerate road salt better than most. Periods of hot and dry weather will cause color change and it is not as drought tolerant as bluegrass unless you do not cut it and allow it to grow on its own and become more natural. Mow at a height of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches tall or allow to mature and grow wild and natural at 6 to 8 inches--low maintenance like an eco-Lawn. As a natural lawn, fertilize spring and fall. You can also mow the grass only once a month as it does not grow as fast as bluegrass, saving you time.

 

#3 Tall Fescue grass is medium to dark green, and new hybrids have a wonderful medium texture like bluegrass does. Tall fescue will grow in clumps and will not make a thick lawn all by itself and is better used in a blend of seeds. It is extremely tough and will tolerate a lot of use like athletic fields and lawns with heavy traffic, so bring on the kids. This is a wonderful grass seed to blend with bluegrass seed when planting a new lawn or thickening an existing thin growing lawn.

 

Tall fescue has a very large growing root system and a root system that grows deep in the soil, making it perfect for soils on the sandy side. Roots can grow as deep as 2 feet or more in the ground and will perform very well in periods of heavy moisture or extended drought. Once established it will even stay green longer during summer drought and perform better than most other varieties of grass.

 

Mow this grass higher in your lawn at 2 to 3 inches tall cutting height--and taller during the heat of summer. Fertilize spring and fall but any additional fertilizer will create a very thick weed free lawn. Taller growing lawns always tend to keep out more weeds than those cut short and this grass does love to stay taller growing. Taller growing lawns also need less watering and less mowing during the season. Tall fescue is often used in areas where it is difficult to grow grass and it does make a wonderful plant to prevent erosion on slopes and steep hillsides. The seed will germinate very quickly, sometimes as fast as only a week, making it perfect when blended with slow germinating bluegrass seed. Tall fescue will also tolerate wet spots in your yard better than most.

 

Look for the new hybrids always as they will have a better texture in your lawn. Keep away from a variety called "Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue" because the blades of grass are very wide and coarse looking. However, it is very important to note that Tall fescue has fewer problems with insects than most other types of grass seed and disease problems are minimal.

 

#4 Perennial Rye Grass is dark green with medium to coarse leaf blade. Use hybrid varieties and stay away from "Common Perennial Ryegrass," as this old variety has a very coarse blade; it lies down easily when mowing, making your lawn look unruly. Perennial rye grass was once the best nursery grass to hold the soil together when seeding a new lawn but has now been replaced with tall fescue hybrids. This is a good inexpensive grass to blend with other seed and to use for sloping areas where the grass does not have to be perfect. It will germinate quickly and in warm soil just 3 to 4 days. The established plant will spread with tillers but is must be blended with other types of grass seed to create a good tight-knit turf; never use alone. Perennial rye grass will not tolerate hot or cool humid growing conditions for long periods, especially wet cool springs. Clay soil or soil that stays wet could become a problem because of disease.

 

Perennial rye grass should be fertilized spring and fall but it will do much better if you add a third feeding in late summer. Cut the grass at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches tall and taller during the summer months. The stems are weak and the grass does tend to fall over, so it will look better when mixed with other grass varieties. If you plant just perennial rye you will have a problem mowing the lawn, especially when it is wet, because it grows on soft stems and not upright like many other types of grasses. It is a great grass to blend with bluegrass seed when you have a heavily used area in your yard. Insect and disease problems are minimal and it will give you good year-round performance.

 

#5 Annual Rye Grass at one time was used widely to help retain the soil when using slow-germinating grasses like bluegrass but with the new perennial rye grasses and new tall fescue of today, it is no longer used in a quality seed blend. Remember that this is an "annual grass seed" and when the weather gets cold and the ground freezes it will die! If your seed blend has a lot of annual grass seed in the blend, the results will be a lawn in the spring with many open areas in your newly planted lawn. Pay a bit more for a seed blend that is all perennial; all your hard work will survive the winter and your new lawn will stay thick over the winter.

 

#6 Zoysia Grass is a warm weather grass and it will live in the Northeast and other parts of the country with cold weather and thrive very well. This is a wonderful fast growing grass that will quickly take over the area where it is planted but there is one major problem in a cold climate with this grass plant. The big problem is that the period that it is green is very short with cold weather! When you receive a good killing frost in the fall it will quickly turn brown; it will not die but your lawn will turn brown from middle to late September until the spring arrives. Now, in the spring, it will be brown while all other lawns will quickly green up in April. In May, possibly even as late as early June it will begin to green up as the soil and air temperature warm up.

 

In the Northeast and cold climate areas, it is beautiful for basically 4 months--June to September--and brown the other 8 months. There is one other problem with this grass plant and that problem is that the plant is unstoppable; it will take over your yard very quickly, choking out everything in its path. It moves quickly and will grow into flower beds creating a maintenance nightmare in planting areas, even those that have a thick layer of bark mulch. If you live from Washington D.C. south it will be green for 6 to 7 months but north of that stay away from this type of lawn!!!

 

One last thing to look for on the grass seed label:

 

1) Percentage of seed type by weight in the bag: bluegrass seed is small and it takes more seed per pound than perennial rye grass; 1 perennial rye grass seed weighs as much as 10 Bluegrass seeds, so less blue grass could give you more seed per bag. More bluegrass seed gives you better quality in the bag, up to 10 times more possible plants by the weight of the box of seed.

 

2) Other crop seed: not a noxious weed, but a weed that will grow in your lawn. Not acceptable!

 

3) Weed seed: percent by weight in the box. Not acceptable!

 

4) Inert Matter: Percent by weight in the box, filler such as seed hulls and grass stems found in cheap seed blends. Not acceptable!

 

5) Noxious Weeds: accept nothing but NONE FOUND printed on the label! If you do, you're planting problem weeds that are difficult to control!

 

6) Germination percentage of the seed variety must be 85% or higher. If you accept 50 % germination, for example, that means that only half of the bag will grow if things are perfect. Not acceptable!

 

7) Test date: This tells you when the seed was packaged and it MUST be this year's date or the percentage of seed expected to germinate will be less than listed--a real problem for you!

 

Use this as a guide and with the help of a knowledgeable person at your local garden center or nursery, you will have a wonderful looking lawn for all the work, time, and money you put into it. This is not the time to save a dollar unless you want to do this again in the near future.

 

Good Seed blends to look for are Pearl's Premium lawn seed, Bonide High Traffic and Heat and Drought blends. Good luck and Enjoy!

 

 

"A gardener learns more in the mistakes then in the successes!"
 
Barbara Dodge Borland
 
Abbott & Costello,  Who's on first.
Abbott & Costello, Who's on first.
 

                                      

              

Moo Goo Gai Pan

 

                                        Homemade Moo Goo Gai Pan

 

Growing my Mother always made homemade Chop Suey and other Chinese dishes for the family and we all enjoyed her cooking unusual meals for us. My Dad was a professional chef of the house but my mother did the every day to day cooking. Here is a recipe that is easy to make and your family will enjoy the great taste of homemade Chinese food.

 

Marinade:

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut up into -inch thick slices

 

Sauce:

cup of Chicken stock

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons of Soy sauce

2 teaspoons of Oyster sauce

1 teaspoon of white sugar

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

2 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh Ginger

6 ounces of fresh snow peas cut in half

pound of cremini or white button mushrooms sliced in thick

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1} Marinate the cut up chicken slices in a medium size bowl. Stir together with the Soy sauce, Rice wine and cornstarch until the cornstarch has dissolved. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir until all the chicken is coated with the marinate. Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, stir a couple times so chicken absorbs the marinate evenly.

 

2} Prepare the sauce in a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and the corn starch. Stir until the corn starch and sugar are dissolved and set aside.

 

3} Heat your wok or a large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom of your pan. Add the chicken and stir fry for about 3 to 4 minutes to brown the chicken, and stir occasionally to be sure there is no pink on the inside. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to leave the oil mixture in the pan and set aside.

 

4} In the same wok or pan add the garlic, and ginger and stir fry until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add your fresh snow peas and mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes stirring occasionally. Return the chicken slices to the wok or pan and stir in the sauce. Let the mixture simmer for a minute or two, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the salt and pepper to your taste and serve.

 

I like to cook some brown rice with caramelized onions to eat with the Moo Goo Gai Pan. If I have extra pea pods and mushrooms I cook them with the onions until tender and add to the brown rice. Chop sticks are optional. Enjoy!!

 

 

 


      

Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!

 

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