Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Planting for Pollinators

Every garden needs pollinators and you’ll attract more pollinators to your garden if you keep these things in mind. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds  and other pollinators are looking for three things when they visit your garden: food, water and shelter. Food for pollinators means nectar and pollen. The ideal plants for pollinators will produce flowers with high nectar and pollen content. Flower shape and color are important factors to pollinators. Hummingbirds like brightly colored, tube-shaped flowers. Among hummingbird favorites are Bee Balm, Cardinal Flower, Catmint and Butterfly bushes. Hummingbirds will hang around your garden longer if there are trees and shrubs nearby for them to hide in.  Butterflies can’t hover like bees and hummingbirds.
They need flowers they can land on in order to feed. Butterfly Bush, Phlox, Hyssop, Asters, Mums and Coneflowers are some butterfly favorites.
The ideal plants for bees will produce flowers with high nectar and pollen content.
Nectar feeds the adult bee and pollen is harvested to feed their young. Beyond perennials and shrubs, think about incorporating annuals and herbs into your pollinator garden. Zinnias are bee and butterfly magnets. Plant a nice bed of zinnias and the bees and butterflies will come. Chives are another plant which bees love. Include herbs such as borage, comfrey, mint and lavender in your pollinator garden. Cover crops such as Crimson Clover attract bees and can be worked into your garden to improve the soil once it stops flowering. Gardening with pollinators in mind will include a place for them to find water. Birdbaths are a great source of water for bees and other pollinators. Place some flat stones in the birdbath so bees will have a place to land and drink safely. With some thought and planning, you can make your garden a destination for bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Coffee grounds benefit your garden

What's better than sitting in the garden with good friends and neighbors, enjoying a cup of coffee?
The question often comes up about the benefits of using coffee grounds in the garden. The simple answer is coffee grounds are a great addition to your garden and to the compost pile. Coffee grounds can help improve your garden soil by adding micro-nutrients, improving soil structure and by encouraging earthworm and microbial activity. The common thought is that coffee grounds will help acidify your soil. Coffee grounds tend to be pH neutral, around 7 on the pH scale. The acid in coffee is water-soluble, so the acid is mainly in your coffee cup, not in the coffee grounds.  It's still worth while to add coffee grounds to your soil because  doing so will help move your soil towards neutral pH, which is good for most plants. Coffee grounds can also improve soil structure and drainage.
A good rule of thumb is 5 pounds of coffee grounds per 100 square feet of garden. Scatter the coffee grounds around each plant and carefully dig them in. As coffee grounds decompose, they release some nitrogen, calcium and magnesium, important nutrients that support plant growth.
Coffee grounds don't do well as a mulch. They tend to develop a hard crust and will repel water, if left on the surface. It's better to dig them into the ground.
Many gardeners swear by coffee grounds to help deter slugs. Apparently, slugs do not like to come in contact with coffee grounds. Try it yourself, by scattering coffee grounds around hostas and other plants in the garden. Remember to water thoroughly, because of the coffee ground's tendency to crust over. There is also conflicting information as to whether to add coffee grounds to your worm bins. This author has been adding coffee grounds to my composting worm bins for a number of years with great results. In the compost bin, coffee grounds count as a "green" or nitrogen source. They help create heat inside the compost bin. Why not turn your used coffee grounds into something useful in your garden.
Placing a container next to the coffee pot will serve to remind you to save the coffee grounds instead of throwing them away. When the container gets full, take it out to the garden. Adding coffee grounds to your garden is just another step in improving your garden soil and making your crops and flowers healthier.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Growing hops at home

The hop is a hardy, perennial plant that you can easily grow at home. Hops (Humulus lupinus) are used primarily as bittering and aroma agents in beer, though their fast growth and height make them good candidates for privacy and shade, as well. The keys to growing hops at home include a sunny location, well prepared soil and space for the hop vines to climb. The ideal location in your garden would be full sun. Hops will grow in partial shade, but the quality of the plant will be reduced.
Good soil is a must in order to grow the best hops. Plan to incorporate 5" to 6" of compost, peat moss and aged manure into your native soil.
Dig it in to a depth of 8" to 10".  This will enrich your soil, allow it to drain better and help bring the pH down.  Hops are planted from rhizomes, basically a piece of root harvested from a mature plant. Rhizomes are available as "bare root" stock or potted in one gallon containers.
Buying plants in containers gives you a head start in establishing your hop plants this season.  The rhizomes should be planted about 2"deep and about 3' apart.
Once you have the planting hole ready, add some steamed bone meal to help the root system establish.
Hop plants can grow a foot a day and up to 15' or more. Some type of trellis or support is essential.
If possible, plant hops along a fence, the side of the garage or beside an arbor
Or build a trellis with poles and garden twine. There are dozens of hops that will do well in your garden, including 'Bianca', 'Nugget' and 'Galena'.  You’ll find these and more hop plant varieties in our perennial house.

Monday, June 6, 2016

June lawn and garden tips.

This is the time of year when your geraniums and petunias can suddenly stop blooming. When you look closely, you’ll see what looks like black pepper on the leaves and you’ll see tiny holes in the geranium flower buds.

The problem is a tiny worm, called a budworm. You can help control budworm with biological insecticides containing BTi, such as Dipel and Thuricide.
These products will control all kinds of worms and caterpillars, including tomato horn worm. It takes care of the worm problem and won’t hurt your crops. If you choose, you can hand pick tomato horn worm. When you see the leaves start to disappear off your tomato plants, start looking for a large green worm. Once you spot them, it’s easy to pick them off by hand.
Early June is a good time to repair bad spots in your lawn. Rake up the area you want to reseed or sod. Spread some compost or peat moss over the area you’re patching. Apply your grass seed evenly, then cover the seed about 1/4" deep with compost or peat moss. Water thoroughly and keep the area moist until the seed germinates.
This is a handy tool to have. You can use it to hand aerate chronic trouble spots in your lawn. Aeration helps break up the soil and gets air down to the roots.
Applying Revive™ now will help your lawn use water more efficiently and stay greener during the upcoming summer months.
If you have dandelions and other weeds in your lawn, now’s the time to apply Fertilome’s Weed-Out Plus. This will feed your lawn and get rid of broadleaf weeds, including dandelions.
This is the time to start f
ertilizing your flowering annuals with Fertilome water soluble 20-20-20. You should feed container plants, including hanging baskets every 7-10 days. Annuals planted in the ground can go a little longer between feedings. Plan to feed these plants every 14 days. Some other things to watch out for this time of year. You might see grass starting to grow amongst your iris and phlox. You can use Grass B Gon ready-to-use to get rid of the grass without harming your perennials.
Start checking your roses and other ornamental plants for powdery mildew starts to show up.
Powdery mildew looks like white, talcum powder on your roses, lilacs, phlox, etc. Powdery mildew can also affect vegetables.
Prune your plants to improve air circulation; avoid watering overhead especially late in the day and spray the affected plants with sulfur. For help with your unique lawn or garden question, stop by our Diagnostic Center. We’ll find the right solution for you.