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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Plant these bulbs for early Spring color

 
You’ll see them in early spring, often blooming through the snow. Brightly colored crocus flowers are a sure sign that spring is on its way.
Crocus blooms are soon followed in succession by other small bulbs (called minor bulbs) including grape hyacinths and galanthus, then the major bulbs including daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. 
These are hardy bulbs, meaning they will survive our winters and bloom season after season, with just a little care. As a rule, plant bulbs two to three times their height. A two inch bulb should be buried five to six inches deep. You can vary the bloom time by the depth you plant each bulb. Shallow planted bulbs will bloom earlier; deeper bulbs will bloom later in the season. The risk with planting too shallow is the bulb may not survive the winter. Another trick to control bloom time is to add two or three inches of mulch to the bed. This will keep the ground cold and slow bloom time. All bulbs will do best when planted in well-amended soil, in a sunny spot in the garden. Once planted, bulbs will root out, and then stay dormant until the soil warms up in spring.
Adding Bone Meal or Dutch Bulb Food at planting time will improve rooting and bulb growth.
C
rocus “bulbs” are technically corms. They are solid inside like a potato and they have a papery outer covering which is called a tunic. One side is flatter than the other. The flat side goes down, when you plant them.
Muscari, known as grape hyacinths, are hardy spring bloomers that produce blue or purple flowers that look like bunches of grapes, hence the common name. They will do well in sun or semi-shade and spread naturally.
Galanthus are very early to arrive in spring, often blooming before crocus. Galanthus will do well in sun or partial shade.
Scillia Siberica will appear soon after Galanthus, with dark blue flowers. For best effect, minor bulbs should be planted in clusters, not lined out in rows.  Check on your bulbs through the winter. They should be watered every four to five weeks, along with the rest of the trees and shrubs in your landscape.   

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to help trees with iron chlorosis

It may feel like summer today, but fall is on the way. You can feel it in the early morning air, while you're working in your garden. Your trees can feel it too. The days are getting shorter, which means the sunlight is less intense. Tree leaves begin to adjust by producing less chlorophyll, allowing more orange and yellow pigments to show through. It's part of the process that produces our colorful fall foliage. There are many trees around town that seemed to have had "fall foliage" colors all year long. These trees, particularly maples, never turned green.
If you look closely, leaf color may vary from pale green
to a burned look, in extreme
cases.
Trees that look like this are sufferi
ng from a condition known as iron chlorosis.  They need iron. They're anemic, if you will.  Left untreated, iron deficiency will eventually kill the tree. The good news is there are several things you can do to correct iron deficiency. First of all, you can apply an iron supplement to the tree. You can purchase iron supplements in liquid and granular form.
All iron
supplements will help, especially those that are "chelated".
Existing trees can absorb and take up chelated irons more readily than other forms.
Iron supplements should be applied now, as well as spring and summer. To fix the problem long-term, you have to fix the soil. Our native soils typically contain sufficient iron to keep trees healthy. The problem is our heavy clay, high alkaline soils prevent certain trees from taking up iron on their own. Amending the soil is the answer.
Applying organic materials such as c
ompost, peat moss and humate will improve soil structure and reduce alkalinity. Each of these products is applied to the area under the tree's dripline, three times per year. This is easily done if your tree is planted in your lawn.
Put the
HuMic down first and water it in.
Follow this with a thin (1/8" to ¼") layer of Sheep and Peat or Peat Moss and water in thoroughly.
If your tree is surrounded by mulch, you can pull the mulch back past the drip line and follow the same process as above: HuMic, then Sheep and Peat or Peat Moss and water in.  If your tree is planted in rock mulch and there's no way to move the rock, consider drilling a series of holes 12" to 18", apart and 8" deep around the drip line and filling each hole with HuMic and Sheep and Peat and water in. Repeated applications will improve the soil structure, increase microbial activity and encourage the tree to take up more iron on its own. In order to assure the continued health of your trees, adding organic material and humic acid to your soil should become part of your routine maintenance. This also applies to lawns, roses, perennials and shrubs. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Time to plant fall blooming bulbs



Most bulbs that are planted in the fall are the spring-blooming kind such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Two exceptions to this rule are Colchicum and Crocus sativas. Like their spring blooming relatives, Colchicum and Crocus sativas are hardy bulbs, meaning they will typically survive our winters and continue to grow and multiple for many seasons to come.  Planting fall blooming bulbs is relatively easy. Whether you choose Colchicum, Crocus or both, the success of these plantings is rooted in the quality of the soil they are planted in.
Start out by picking a site that receives full sun and add 2" to 3" of Sheep, Peat and Compost Work this amendment into your existing soil about 5" to 6"deep. Next, dig a hole two to three times as deep as the bulb is high. That means for Colchicum the bulb will be planted 6" to 7" deep and for Crocus 4" to 5" deep.
Add some Bone Meal to the bottom of the planting hole and cover it slightly. You want the bulb to root into the bone meal.
Place each bulb flat side down and about one bulb width apart. Fill the hole with soil and then water thoroughly. Label the spot so you'll remember what was planted and where. Once in the ground, these bulbs will bloom typically within 6 to 7 weeks. As the blooms fade, remove the spent flowers. Come spring, each bulb will send up a set of leaves. This is how the bulb reenergizes so it can bloom again, in the fall.
Colchicum will also blossom on your window sill. Simply place them in a glass container and they will soon bloom. Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors takes a lot out of them. You can plant the bulb outdoors once they've stopped blooming but it may take several seasons for these bulbs to bloom again.
Crocus
sativas is best known for producing the spice saffron from the filaments that grow inside the flower. You may harvest and dry the stigma. It will take about 150 flowers to make one gram of dried saffron. Planting Colchicum and Crocus sativas is a great way to add color to your late fall garden.  


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tips to get green tomatoes to ripen on the vine



Find yourself with more green tomatoes than ripe ones right now. You're not alone. Many gardeners we talk to have the same complaint. "My tomatoes just don't want to ripen this year."  Here are some suggestions for ripening those green tomatoes still left on the vine. The idea is to channel the plant's energy away from flowering and leaf production, towards ripening existing fruit.
First of all, harvest any ripe tomatoes as soon as you can. Next, stop fertilizing. Your plants don't need any more Nitrogen at this point in the season. Another way to speed up ripening on the vine is to prune your tomato plants.
Start by removing any
diseased and damaged leaves and branches. You can also remove any young branches at this point.
Next, prune off any small fruit and flowers. Fruit that's just setting today isn't going to make it before the end of the season, so you might as well take them off. Cut off any green tomatoes that are soft to the touch. Leave healthy, fully-formed leaves on the plant. These leaves are needed to provide nutrients to the existing tomatoes. Plant pruning will help redirect energy towards ripening existing fruit.
Root pruning will also encourage ripening.
To root prune, simple stick a shovel or trowel six to eight inches deep into the ground, all the way around your tomato plant. This will chop off the ends of the roots and force the plant to stop new growth. With those root ends clipped off the tomato plant goes into fruit production mode. It should be noted that root pruning will dramatically decrease the life of your plant.
One last suggestion
, be patient. The average first fall frost date is September 27. Your tomatoes will have time to ripen on the vine. 
If the nights start getting too cool, cover your plants with an insulating material to protect them. These are several things you can do to speed up the ripening process. If it gets too late in the season, you can always pick the green fruit and bring it inside to ripen.