Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Rose Care Tips


As we head into November, here are some tips for caring for your roses. Keep watering, stop fertilizing and stop deadheading. Deadheading is the act of snipping off the rose bloom as it begins to fade.
We do this so the rose is encouraged to bloom again. As the rose begins to fade and petals fall, the seed pod, called a hip begins to form.
Like any other plant, roses flower in order to reproduce. We want them to bloom again, so we prune the flowers off. When we leave the hips alone, the rose stops flowering. It’s another clue to the plant to slow down and go dormant, which is what we want to happen, this time of year. After our first hard frost, prune the canes down to about 24" to 30".
In late November, after the ground is frozen, apply rose collars around the base of the rose and fill with Soil Pep.
The idea is to keep the ground cold and stable. We can get some warm winter days, warm enough to thaw the soil around the rose. As the temperature cools at night, the ground freezes again. This thaw/freeze cycle can damage the rose to the point it doesn’t come back in the spring.  
Mulching will help keep the ground stable and protect the rose. Water your dormant roses every 4-5 weeks during the winter. If you have questions about pruning and mulching roses, stop in and see us. We’ll be glad to answer your questions and show you how to take care of your roses this winter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Planting cover crops



Once you’ve finished cleaning up your vegetable beds, it’s time to consider planting a cover crop. Cover crops, sometimes called “green manure” crops, are planted to improve soil fertility and to increase organic material in your garden. Some common cover crops include
Winter Rye, Annual Rye,
Oats and Clover. Cover crops are generally sown in the fall, but can also be planted in the spring and summer as fill-in crops next to your vegetables. Begin by raking the soil in the area you intend to plant. Plan to use about a pound of seed per 100 square feet of the garden space you intend to cover. Next, sow your cover crop by broadcasting the seed evenly across the area and then cover the seed lightly with Top Soil or
Sheep, Peat and Compost. Finish seeding by watering in the seed. Keep the soil evenly moist until you see the seedlings emerge. Cover crops are low-maintenance. You don’t have to water after that.
You’ll dig or till the cover crop under come spring, adding green matter and Nitrogen to your soil. We have cover crops in
and pre-packaged for your convenience. Stop in. We’ll help you choose which cover crop is right for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tips for cold composting



Cold composting, sometimes called passive composting does work. It takes a little longer than hot composting, but if your compost bin or compost pile is full, cold composting is another way to recycle garden waste and table scraps. The same concepts apply, using a 3:1 ratio of browns to greens. Browns include leaves, shredded cardboard and newspaper. Greens include table scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds and eggshells.  
Avoid adding meat or dairy, diseased plants or weed seeds (it won’t get hot enough to get rid of the seeds).
Worms are an important part of cold composting, just as they are for warm (active) composting, so add some to your raw compost. Worms are available for purchase. Yes, they will survive the winter. They will slow down just as the microorganisms slow down because of the cold temperatures and your compost will turn more slowly, but it will still work through the winter.
Organic nitrogen is also important and can be mixed into your compost ingredients. Organic nitrogen won’t harm any worms in your compost.
You can start with a pile of compost materials in the corner of your garden, layer your ingredients together, water the pile and cover it.
Another method is to dig a trench alongside the garden bed and shovel your scraps into the trench and cover lightly with garden soil.  Expect cold composting to take longer that “hot” composting. The temperatures aren’t there to accelerate the process of breaking down the raw materials. Composting doesn’t have to be complicated.
The main thing is to get started turning your scraps into compost instead of trash. As always, if you have questions stop in and see us. We can help you!  


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Using fall leaves in the garden.

Take advantage of fallen leaves, to make improvements to your garden soil. Raking leaves and adding them to your garden to compost over the winter months will result in a much improved garden soil next spring. Leaves don’t contain a lot of nutrients, but composting them will produce leaf mold which will greatly improve the structure of your garden soil. Leaf mold is a dark, spongy material that results from microorganisms breaking down the leaf. It’s the stuff you find at the bottom of a pile of leaves that have piled up on the lawn or along the street curb.
As soon as leaves begin to fall and pile up, the process of decomposing begins. You can take advantage of this natural cycle by making a pile of leaves in a corner of your garden or simply digging them into your garden soil.  Leaves decompose cold. The process doesn’t require heat to work.
Smaller pieces will break down faster, so put the catcher bag on the mower and mow the lawn.
You can put the leaves, chopped or not, directly into the garden soil 
or start with a pile of leaves in a corner of your garden bed.

Add some Nitrogen such as Cottonseed Meal and water thoroughly. Turn the leaves once or twice during the winter.
By spring you should have rich leaf mold to add to your garden. If all of the leaves aren’t completely broken down by spring, leave them in the garden. The composting process will continue through the summer months. By fall you’ll be ready to start the cycle again. Your garden soil needs to be continuously improved and making leaf mold is an easy to accomplish this.