Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Time to plant fall vegetables


There are a number of reasons to plant a vegetable garden in the fall. Vegetables grown this time of year are primarily root crops and greens, which means you can grow them in the ground or in containers. There are fewer weeds and bugs to contend with in the fall. None of these crops require special attention, such as staking or caging. Most of these crops don’t need a full 8 hours of sun, which means you can grow spinach or lettuce in pots on your patio even if it starts to get shady in the late afternoon.
There is a wide variety of vegetables to grow now, including beets, carrots, kale, chard, radishes, spinach, cabbage and broccoli.
When you’re selecting seeds or starts look at the days to maturity information or days to harvest on the package or label. This is roughly the amount of time from planting seeds to picking your crops. The shorter the days to maturity, the faster you’re harvesting. Radishes mature in about 25 days, so if you plant them now, you’ll be picking radishes in less than four weeks.  
Planting starts reduces the amount of time to harvest. Getting ready for planting cool weather crops is much the same as it is in spring. As always, soil quality is one of the key factors to your success.
Even if you amended your soil in spring, vegetables can be heavy feeders so replenish your soil with compost and peat moss. 
Add a granular fertilizer such as Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable or
Fertilome Tomato and Vegetable. If you’re using a container, use a good potting soil and work some fertilizer into the mix. In addition to seeds and starts,
you’ll need markers
and some frost protection for later in the season. N-sulate, a frost blanket or a sheet will be enough to keep your plants safe though any cold nights we might get. As a final note, there’s nothing like being able to pick fresh greens for tonight’s salad and knowing where they came from and how they were grown.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time to divide and plant Iris.


With their showy spring flowers, bearded iris are one of those “must have” plants for your garden. Iris are generally low maintenance plants season after season, but over time they can become crowded and they stop producing as many blooms.
That’s an indication they need to be divided and the time to dig and divide iris is now.  
The best tool to use to dig iris roots – called rhizomes, is a spading fork. Spading forks make it easy to get under and lift the rhizome without causing damage to the roots. Once you’ve got the clump of iris out of the ground, you’ll be able to see the rhizomes clearly. You’ll want to remove any old or diseased rhizomes.
You can divide the clump with a knife or by simply breaking off each root with your hand.
Trim the leaves in a fan shape down to between 4" and 6".
Mark the leaves with the name of the iris, so you’ll remember which one it is.
Or add a plant label with the name of the iris. When you’re planting your iris in their new location, remember that iris grow in the direction of the heel so place your rhizomes with the leaves planted in the direction you want the plant to grow. Iris will do okay in clay soils, but they thrive in soils that have been amended, so add a couple of inches of Sheep, Peat and Compost and dig it in 4-5 inches. 
 Add some Bine Meal and place the rhizome so that the roots are fanned out to the side, then add enough soil to cover the roots, while leaving the very top of the rhizome exposed. Water in thoroughly.
Your iris will establish through the fall and be ready to bloom next spring. This is also a good time to add new varieties and colors to your garden.
You can choose from tall beard iris such as Tennison Ridge or iris that bloom spring and fall.
Same planting guidelines apply. Pick a good solid rhizome, amend the soil well, add some Bone Meal and make sure you mark the iris so you’ll remember the name next spring.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Controlling powdery mildew


Late July into August is the time many garden diseases, such as powdery mildew,
black spot and
rust start to show up. Vegetable gardens, shrubs and trees can be affected. Good cultural practices can prevent a number of disease and insect problems. These include watering in the early morning so plants don’t sit wet all night. When you water, avoid overhead watering if you can. It’s best to water at the base of the plant if possible. Try to avoid splashing soil up onto the leaves when you water. This will reduce the chances of disease spreading. Make sure plants have plenty of room to breathe. As your garden grows, plants can become crowded, reducing the air circulation around them. Pruning excess foliage back so there is room between plants will help with air flow. Keep an eye out for insect activity. Insects can spread diseases from plant to plant. Even with the best soil and growing conditions, there are times when an organic fungicide is needed.  Sulfur, Neem oil, Serenade and Green Cure are organic fungicides available to you for use in your garden.  

Sulfur is a broad spectrum fungicide with an added benefit of controlling mites and thrip. This is important because insect activity can move diseases from plant to plant.

This liquid sulfur is listed with the Organic Material Review Board (OMRI) for use in organic gardens.
Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Azadirachta indica tree. Neem oil offers good fungus control and also controls insects and mites.

Serenade contains Bacillus subtilis, a soil-dwelling bacterium that controls powdery  mildew, leaf blight and many other leaf diseases.
Green Cure is a concentrate you mix and apply. Green Cure will work on fungus problems in the lawn and garden. Knowing what you’re dealing with is key. Bring a sample of your plant problems into the store and we’ll help you decide which product is right for your garden.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Deadheading and some other August chores



It’s not only what you plant but how you care for your plants that encourages blooming through the season. Now is the time for a mid-season clean up in your garden. You need to look at beds and borders, containers and hanging baskets with a critical eye. Keeping your garden looking its best means removing fading and spent flowers, as well as cleaning up leaves, branches and debris.
Most annuals and perennials do their best when you remove fading blooms early, before they begin to form seeds. In gardening terms it’s called deadheading, which simply means pruning off the old flowers. This keeps the garden neat and promotes additional blooms as well. Get in the habit of deadheading while you walk through your garden. It’s easy to carry a pair of light pruners with you as you make your rounds.
As you spot a blossom beginning to fade snip or pinch it off.
Sometimes you’ll need to snip it off, while other times you can simply pinch off old flowers. While you’re at it, check the plant for bugs or disease problems. Getting on a problem early is the best way to control it. 
Stems and leaves can get damaged or wear out through the course of the season. Now’s the time to remove them.  
The lower parts of veronica and salvia can really look bad this time of year. Prune them hard and they will come back strong by fall.
Check your roses and remove spent blossoms. Do the same for your container plants, including your hanging baskets.
While you’re at it, take a hard look at your vegetables. Removing dead and diseased leaves on your tomato plants will put more energy into fruit production. Keeping pace with dead-heading and cleanup makes it a lot easier when the gardening season wraps up.