Posts tagged deadheading

Gardening addiction

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

                 Over the road and across the highway to the garden center I go.  The car knows the way, never to stray………………..   I told myself I already have enough plants for this year.  Can gardening be addictive?  Unfortunately I read somewhere that June is the time to walk around the yard looking for bare spots or drab areas that could use a little sprucing up with annuals.  And June is still prime time for planting annuals whose duty is to mask those early blooming perennials and waning spring bulbs.   I‘m going scoot out of here early in the day, returning quickly and maybe nobody will notice.  Morning is the best time to plant anyway, ahead of the hot daytime sun.  Nobody will discern me watering the new plantings daily because the hanging baskets get a drink daily and the container plants every other day. My potting soil didn’t have fertilizer in it, so I’m going to try a starter solution of fertilizer when I introduce these new plants into the landscape.               The next task is weeding, also a morning chore.  It keeps me out of the hot daytime sun.  Do you agree that weeding is a bother?  Not many folks enjoy it.  Pesticides limit weeds but also discourage bees, butterflies and birds.  Our Creeping Charlie is so aggressive. Hopefully, a pesticide will slow its pace, but a layer of hardwood mulch is an alternative to commercial weed killers. 

          Grooming beds certainly dresses them up.  Deadheading, –  removing fading flowers –  improves a plant’s appearance and encourages continual bloom.  I bought a pair of good garden shears this spring. They sure make a clean cut. I’ll remove the flower buds or flowering stem back to the first set of leaves.

                Participating in an exercise class several times each week keeps my doctor happy, but playing in the dirt is certainly therapeutic.  The dog and I and sometimes a cat or two could just spend hours and hours in the gardens.  Flower or vegetable gardens each create a soothing no worry-be happy atmosphere.

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A Midsummer’s Garden

Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith shares the following:

 

Can you believe it’s already July?  The favorite daughter’s corn (all 24 stalks—remember it’s her first garden adventure) are way taller than knee high.  Her two tomato plants are huge; the pumpkin plants absolutely covered with blossoms.  The kids are so anxious to see the fruits of Mom’s labors. What fun this is!

                So how is your vegetable garden fairing?

§  You may be surprised to know that you will want to water soon, if you haven’t started already.  Gardens – vegetable and flower -need about one inch of water per week.  Remember it’s best to water thoroughly early in the day. 

§  Fertilize leafy vegetables and sweet corn when the plants are about half their mature size. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans should be fertilized when they have started producing fruit. Spread about two cups of a low-nitrogen fertilizer about six inches from the plant for every 100 feet of row.  Never put fertilizer directly on the fruit.

§  Continue to monitor for pests, add additional mulch if needed and remove weeds to prevent competition for water and fertilizer.

§  If you feel you must use a weed killer be careful to not get any on your ground cover.  Herbicides will kill any plant they touch.  A helpful hint is to cut the top and bottom from a milk jug, cover the weeds with the milk jug and spray the weeds inside the container.  Once the herbicide is dry, move the jug on to the next group of weeds.

§  Does your garden have a hot spot—lots of sun and dry?  There is still time to fill in. Plant some annuals.  Zinnias, Sunflowers, Dusty Miller and Cleome are both heat and drought resistant.  Deadheading (removing dead flower heads) will increase flower production.

Do enjoy your garden where the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor will be a tasty and safe special treat for the entire family. 

 

Another reminder – if you would like to become a Linn County Master Gardener  contact the Extension Office at (319) 377-9839 for information regarding the program.

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Tips on container gardening

Master Gardener Gloria Johnson gives us some timely container gardening tips:

 

    My deck seems so bare with no furniture and no plants, but May 10th is

about the earliest date to safely start planting in Northern Linn County. 

My house plants are eager to share the outdoors with my container annuals and

two tomato plants.

     Container gardening works so well for a patio or deck.  With so many

folks living in apartments and condos, there are now flowers and vegetables

bred specifically for container gardening.  Check with your garden center when

you purchase plants.

     Following are a few suggestions for effective container gardening:

     Select a container that you can easily handle, but not less

than 15″ in diameter.  Bases on rollers are very convenient.  Choose a style

and color to compliment your home’s exterior.  Use odd numbers of containers,

i.e. one large and two smaller.  Have a drainage hole, but use a screen or even

a coffee filter over it to keep the soil from washing out.

      Know how much sun or shade the plant will receive during the

day and purchase plants accordingly.

      A good potting soil mixture is equal parts of garden loam,

course sand and peat moss.  Do not use regular garden soil as you may

introduce pests and disease into the planter.

      Daily watering is a basic necessity.  Early morning is best,  

but if you must water in the evening remember that foliage that doesn’t dry

out overnight can produce fungal diseases.  Revive a wilting plant by

immersing the entire plant in water until no air bubbles are visible then

place the plant in a shady spot while it perks up.

      A layer of mulch is an attractive method of retaining

moisture and also decreases splashing when watering.

      Deadheading (removing dead and wilted flowers) promotes

reblooming. Serious pruning in late summer will eliminate “leggy” plants.

      You are limited only to your imagination, determination

and resources, but if have you have questions, call the Master Gardener

Horticulture Hotline at 319-447-0647. 

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Battle of the plants

This information is from Master Gardeners Claire Smith and Deb Walser:

 Annuals or Perennials?  Perennials or Annuals?  It’s a question asked every spring.  I so much enjoy the zinnias and impatiens and petunias that flower so easily and beautifully all summer.  But, when I shop in the spring, do I want to pay for those annuals year after year or do I pay a little more and have perennials, those wonderful plants that sleep all winter and emerge with the warmth of spring year after year, almost all by themselves?

Now there is an advantage to annuals:  if you love the plant but dislike its location in your garden there’s no problem because it’s not going to come up next year anyway. You can buy another one in the spring and plant it elsewhere.  Perennials can be transplanted and moved, but just not as easily. 

Master Gardener, Deb Walser has this to say about Annual Flowers vs. Perennial Flowers: 

         Annual flowers need to be planted every year.  They may require continuous deadheading (removal of old flowers) to look their best.  Some annuals are self cleaning and don’t need to be deadheaded.  Most should not be planted before May 10 (Cedar Rapids predicted last frost date).  Planting before May 10 may result in freezing (death) and replacement of the plant after May 10.  They provide continuous color for most of the summer.  

        Perennial flowers are planted once. They, too, require some deadheading. Most can be planted at any time of the year. Thinning may be necessary after 3-4 years.  Different varieties bloom at different times of the summer.  A good design for beds and borders should include varieties that bloom spring, early summer, mid summer, late summer and fall for continuous color.

          It can be expensive to replant large areas each year with annuals.  Although the cost of perennials is more initially, you will only have to plant them once (God-willing).  A perennial garden supplemented with annuals is the best of both worlds.  

         Stay tuned: the Linn County Master Gardeners are planning a Garden Walk this summer.  The event is still in the planning stages, but will be a wonderful opportunity to visit several gardens with a variety of plants, flowers and shrubs and speak oneonone with Master Gardeners.  Details will follow later about this great opportunity  

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