Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Controlling garden pests organically

Growing vegetables organically takes patience and persistence. Keeping your plants strong and healthy is the best defense against insect and disease damage. This means planting your tomatoes, vegetables and flowers in good soil, in the right light and then feeding and watering them on a regular basis. When a problem does come up, there are a number of products you can use to control grasshoppers, slugs, flea beetle, and powdery mildew and so on. Understanding what the problem is and how each product works will help you apply these controls so they are most effective.
Sulfur will help control powdery mildew, rust and leaf spot. It will also control thrip and mites. Apply sulfur directly on the plant and to the ground under your plants.
The special soap formula in Safer® Insect Killing Soap controls aphids and many other garden and home pests.
If you have powdery mildew and insect problems, use Safer®   3-in-1.
Neem Oil is another broad spectrum product for use on insects, rust, powdery mildew and insects.  Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the seeds and fruit of the Neem tree. Neem oil works on sucking and chewing insects.
Slugs and earwigs can be controlled with Sluggo® Plus.  
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is a powder made from the fossils of water plants. It is very sharp and kills insects that come in contact with it, including slugs and grasshoppers.
Colorado-made Nolo Bait™ is a biological insecticide to use when you have grasshoppers. It will kill very young grasshoppers and it causes older grasshoppers to stop eating and reproducing. You’ll still see them hanging around the garden, but they’re not doing any harm. It’s important remember when you use these products in your garden they may work differently than conventional pesticides. Also, even though the label says its “natural” or “organic”, it’s still a pesticide, so read the label carefully before you apply it. If you’re not sure what the garden problem is bring us a sample so we can identify it specifically and recommend the right solution for you.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Repot tomato plants now for better yields


With the weekend storm reminding us there’s still a ways to go before we can plant our tomatoes outside in the garden, now is the time to repot your seedlings into larger containers. Your tomato plants will handle the move to outdoors and produce better fruit later on, if they have a strong root system.
Tomatoes have what are called adventitious roots. They can produce roots all along the stem. All of the fine hairs you see along the stem of a tomato are capable of producing roots. You can take advantage of this characteristic by potting-up your starts into larger, deeper containers. This will give your tomato plants a chance to develop a bigger root system.   Developing more roots means more water and nutrients being taken up by the plant, which will help produce a healthier plant and more fruit. Repotting also lets you move from seed-starting mix to potting soil. Seed-starter mix doesn’t have any nutrient value. A potting mix like Happy Frog® contains earthworm castings, bat guano and beneficial microbes which will encourage large roots and leaf growth.
Start by laying your tomato seedling on its side and gently slide it out of its pot.
If it’s really root bound, cut open the pot.
Next, remove the lower leaves.  
Put a scoop of Happy Frog® in the bottom of the new pot.
Set your tomato seedling as deep as you can, than add more Happy Frog® until the pot is full. Water thoroughly and then put your plants back under the lights.  Repotting also gives you the chance to check your plants general health. Purple stems and leaves can indicate a magnesium deficiency. Give it a week or so in Happy Frog® and if it doesn’t clear up, add some Botanicare Cal-Mag Plus.
It’s also a good idea to run your hand across the plants periodically. This will help build strong stems. Running a small fan in the room will do the same thing.
In about 10 days or so, start feeding your plants a mild fertilizer such as Age Old Organics Kelp. This will help supply a small amount of nitrogen and phosphate to the plant without burning it. A healthy tomato start will have less set back when you do move it outdoors, which means you’ll be picking more tomatoes sooner.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rush For The Roses 2016

Saturday, April 23rd marks the beginning of this year’s rose season with the annual “Rush For The Roses” event at The Flower Bin. This year’s event features over 270 varieties of roses and an inventory of 3,200 rose bushes in stock. Follow this link for the 2016 Rose variety list and more local rose information: http://www.theflowerbin.net/roses.html. Plan to arrive early and park on Korte Place, then walk around to the entrance and wait for the gates to open promptly at 8:00 AM.
At that point, the “Rush” is on.
Inside the Flower Bin Rose House you’ll find hundreds of roses ready to take home and plant. If this is your first experience with growing roses, here are some tips to help you decide which roses are right for your garden. Floribunda roses are generally smaller flowers than hybrid roses but they bear many flowers each season.
Hybrid tea roses are very popular with dozens of color and fragrance choices. Miniature roses are naturally dwarf plants. For planting purposes, roses need a spot of their own in full sun away from trees and shrubs. In lieu of full sun, a good second choice would be a place where your rose would receive full morning sun.
Plan to amend the planting site with Rose Bed amendment, mixed in 50:50 with your native soil. A good choice for fertilizing your roses is Mile High Rose Food and Fertilome Rose food.
Roses will attract pollinators and add beauty and fragrance to your garden for many years.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Colorful summer-blooming bulbs


As you’re planning your summer flower gardens, be sure to leave some room for summer bulbs. Summer bulbs include canna lilies, dahlias, Asiatic and Oriental lilies, gladiolus and tuberous begonias.
Asiatic lilies are hardy to Zone 3. They are the hardiest of all the lily hybrids.  Once they are established in your garden, they will produce showy blooms for many years.
Oriental lilies are hardy to Zone 5. They tend to be more fragrant than Asiatic lilies. Asiatic and Oriental lilies are planted from bulbs.
Before planting, amend the soil with compost and peat moss, add some Bone Meal and plant the bulbs 4" to 6" deep.
Canna lilies feature attractive green, bronze or variegated foliage, in addition to their flowers.  Cannas do well in garden beds and containers.
The canna “bulb” is actually a rhizome. Plant cannas about 6" deep and about 18" apart, in well-amended soil, with Bone Meal added to the planting site. Cannas need to be dug and stored after the frost kills the foliage, if you want to save them. They will not survive our winters.
Dahlias are grown from tubers and come in a wide variety of colors. Dahlias will bring color to your garden in late summer and early fall. Dahlias are tender bulbs and must be dug and stored through the winter if you want to save them. The other option is to buy new tubers every season. For more late summer and fall color, plant Gladiolus.
Gladiolus “bulbs” are called corms. Plant your corms about 3" deep and 4" to 5" apart, in soil that has been amended with peat moss and compost. Glads are tender summer bulbs that will have to be dug and stored, as they won’t survive our winters.
Tuberous begonias make incredible displays of color in a shady spot on your patio. They can be planted in containers, hanging baskets and directly in the garden. They need to be dug and stored if you want to save them for next year. Summer bulbs tend to sell out early, so it’s best to shop now to get the best selection.