Posts tagged clay

How much rain is enough and more gardening tips

Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith describes how much water is enough  (obviously, many parts of Iowa have had too much this week) and other gardening hints:

 

We’re so excited:  my favorite daughter’s garden is growing by leaps and bounds.  We had no idea of the quality of soil in the area, but luckily she unknowingly over seeded so we can do some thinning.  Her husband is excited to be able to walk out and pluck a ripe tomato.  Can you imagine the kids learning to hull peas?

So how is your garden growing? 

Have you noted your guests—your birds and butterfly buddies?  Adding bird and butterfly houses and water may encourage them to stay longer.

Keep planting. Try a new variety.   “Mudding” in plants is not a great idea, but there are certainly a variety of perennials still available when the ground dries out a little. 

Due to the overly wet conditions now, it’s a good idea to check your plants for mold and mildew.    Remove any leaves with blotches or that are discolored.  Use an insecticide soap to control insects.  Wet conditions do make weeding easier. 

Perennials generally do not need extra fertilizer.  The soil usually provides adequate nutrients.  Watch your plants, though and if they need a boost, go ahead with a liquid fertilizer. 

Perennials require one inch of water each week.  New plantings will request water several times each week.  It is better to water thoroughly less often.   Young new trees should be checked routinely and watered thoroughly as needed.  Remember clay soils retain water:  sandy soils do not. 

Finish pruning spring-flowering shrubs this month.  Prune so that the top of the hedge is narrower than the bottom to allow light to reach all parts of the shrub. 

Deadhead annuals as soon as the flowers start to fade to encourage new growth.

               

And, remember to plan a fun, educational and inexpensive ($10 for the entire family!) day on Saturday, June 14,  from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Linn County Master Gardeners’ First Annual Garden Walk.  Tickets are available at each location.  For more information, see the last two weeks’ blogs or call the Horticulture Hotline at 319-447-0647. 

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Runoff resolution

With the copious amounts of rainfall Eastern Iowa has received this spring, the Iowa Storm Water Education Program offers the following timely advice on lawns, runoff and water quality:

 

 

 

Can a Healthy Lawn Improve Water Quality?

 

 

   If you live in a newer neighborhood, chances are that during construction the valuable topsoil was removed from the site (and may even have been sold) and what remains is heavy clay subsoil.

    Heavy equipment was driven across this soil causing compaction. Then, once construction was completed and lawn preparation began, the compacted soil was lightly scraped, a thin layer of topsoil added, and sod applied over the top of that. In most cases, the lawn now functions similar to placing sod on top of a concrete block!

    The soil is so heavily compacted that the roots can’t penetrate to obtain the necessary nutrients from subsurface soils. This results in having to water frequently and over apply lawn chemicals.

     Rainfall that runs off compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, and streets flows into the storm drains. It is not directed to a wastewater treatment plant, but simply discharged, untreated, directly into local streams and lakes. The major concern with this is all the excess fertilizer, pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and sediment that accumulates on compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots and streets. These pollutants, carried along with the rainfall runoff, contaminate and severely pollute and impair our local waterways.

     What can you do to change this situation? There are a number of key things you can do with your own property. The starting point is to soak up as much of the rainfall on your property as you can, so that it doesn’t flow into the street. If your lawn is of the compacted type described above, chances are, it is not helping to reduce the runoff.

     Here are a few suggestions:

• Restore the health of your lawn by aerating and then apply a thin (1/4-1/2”) layer

of compost and seed.

• Use fertilizers containing zero phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer

bag indicates the quantity of phosphorus). Sweep up any fertilizer that is spread

onto sidewalks, driveways or streets and spread it back on the lawn.

• Use native landscaping and native turf in your yard.

 

     We all need to protect and improve the water quality in our streams and lakes. Please think about doing your part!

     Visit http://www.iowastormwater.org to learn more about storm water issues and contact your local community for additional educational information on storm water management.

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