Posts tagged digging

Love me tender

James Romer, Iowa Master Gardener Coordinator at Iowa State University Extension, offers the following on tender perennials:

Tender perennials are an integral part of many home landscapes in the Midwest. Most have a long blooming period and put on excellent displays of color until it freezes in the fall. The biggest problem with tender perennials is that they will not survive Iowa’s harsh winter weather if left outdoors. The following tender perennials should be dug in the fall and stored indoors until spring graces our doorsteps once again.

Tuberous begonias (Begonia xtuberhybrida) come in a wide assortment of colors and types. Some of the flower forms include camellia, cascade, carnation, picotee and non-stop series. Container-grown plants can be brought indoors for winter enjoyment. Those tubers left outside should be dug after a killing frost. To properly condition the tubers for storage, place them in a warm, dry location for approximately two weeks. Then bury the tubers in a box or sack filled with sphagnum moss or vermiculite. Store them in a cool, dry location.

Caladium (Caladium xhortulanum) is a great plant in the shade. The caladium is grown for its colorful foliage rather than its flowers. When the foliage dies back in the fall, carefully lift the tubers out of the soil and find a warm, dry place to cure them. Typically the process is complete in two weeks. Store the tubers in dry sand, vermiculite or sphagnum moss in a cool (50 F), frost-free area.

Gladiolus (Gladiolus hybrids) is stunning in the garden and in arrangements, but they need to be dug and tucked away for the winter months. The gladiolus or glad develops from a growing structure called a corm. A corm is a short, thickened underground stem where food is stored. When the foliage has yellowed, lift the corms carefully, cut off the foliage 1 to 2 inches above the corm and allow drying for a week in a sunny location. Corms can be treated with a fungicide to prevent disease while in storage. Remove and discard the remains of the old mother corm located at the bottom of the large, healthy corm. Place the corms in old onion sacks or nylon stockings. Then store the corms in a cool, dry, frost-free location until spring planting occurs.

Though calla lilies (Zandedeschia spp.) are tropical in appearance, they can be successfully grown in the Midwest. After the foliage has been damaged by a frost, cut off the tops about 2 inches above the soil line. Dry the calla rhizomes in a warm, dry location for one or two weeks. Bury the rhizomes in vermiculite, sawdust or peat moss, and store in a cool (45 to 55 F), frost-free area.

The large, banana-like foliage of the canna (Canna xgeneralis) stands out in the garden. Some can get to be about six feet in height, while others top the two to three-foot range. After a killing frost, cut the stems back to about 3-4 inches above the soil. Carefully dig up the rhizomes, let them dry for a few hours, and then place them in crates or mesh bags. Store at 35 to 45 F.

Dahlias (Dahlia hybrids) stand out like beacons in the summer garden. With more than 40,000 varieties to choose from, it’s difficult to not like at least one. After a killing frost has destroyed the foliage, the top of the dahlia should be cut away, and the tubers should be carefully dug and labeled with the variety name. Wash the tubers with water to remove as much soil as possible. This lessens the chance for soil insects to destroy the tubers while in storage. Dry the tubers in a site protected from strong winds and out of direct sunlight. When the tubers become dry to the touch, remove any portion of the stalk that remains and place the tubers upside down in vermiculite to ensure that any water in the remaining crown tissue drains out.

Although all of these plants require more work to keep than your average perennial, their attractive flowers and foliage are well worth the extra effort.

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One Call

Following is a good reminder from Iowa One Call for Iowans thinking about planting trees or doing other digging this season:

 

Earth Day and Arbor Day Signal Outdoor Activity – Remember to call Iowa One Call before you dig!

 

As Earth Day and Arbor Day quickly approach, on April 22 and 25, many Iowans are looking forward to getting outdoors to plant a tree or undertake other outdoor gardening, landscaping or home improvement projects. But before turning a spade or firing up the post hole digger, Iowans must remember to call Iowa One Call before they dig. While April highlights Earth and Arbor Days and the start of the digging season, April has also been proclaimed Iowa One Call Month by Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge. Iowa One Call Month marks the beginning of a 2008 digging safety campaign to remind Iowans of Iowa’s law to call 811 or (800) 292-8989 to have underground facilities located and marked before digging or excavating.

 

“By proclaiming the month of April as Iowa One Call Month, we remind all professional contractors, homeowners, businesses and anyone engaged in any type of digging activity to call Iowa One Call before doing any excavating. Individuals who fail to use Iowa One Call may risk civil liabilities, serious injury or even death,” states the signed proclamation.

 

“Iowa One Call’s purpose is to protect people and property,” said Ben Booth, public relations coordinator for Iowa One Call. “By locating and marking underground utilities before digging begins, Iowa One Call saves lives, prevents damage to the environment and helps to avoid service interruption. Individuals who fail to contact Iowa One Call prior to digging are subject to civil penalties that may range from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation. This is not something that just applies to people engaged in professional construction excavation. Homeowners and farmers can be held liable as well. So the safe and smart thing to do is always call first.”

 

The Iowa One Call Center phone lines – at 811 or (800) 292-8989 – are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of 40 customer service representatives. Notification to Iowa One Call must be made at least 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and legal holidays). While residential gardening does not require utility locates, it is a good idea to notify Iowa One Call before digging a new garden or using equipment, such as a power tiller.

 

Iowa law defines “excavation” as an operation in which a structure or earth, rock or other material in or on the ground is moved, removed, compressed or otherwise displaced by means of any tools or equipment. This includes, but is not limited to, digging, drilling, driving, grading, scraping, trenching, tiling, tunneling, ditching and demolition of structures.

 

Booth adds, “Even seemingly harmless activities like pounding a piece of re-rod in the ground to hold a landscape timber in place or digging a hole for a new shrub can damage an underground line. People also need to know that once utilities are marked, they need to avoid digging within 18 inches on either side of flags and paint markings.”

 

Calling Iowa One Call is Easy and Free

The national One Call 811 phone number was established last year. It is a standardized number for callers anywhere in the country to reach the respective One Call Center in their state. Iowans can reach Iowa One Call at 811, (800) 292-8989 or via the Web at www.iowaonecall.com. There are no charges for the phone call. Iowa One Call’s service is free of charge to anyone requesting a utility locate.

 

About Iowa One Call

Iowa One Call is a nonprofit organization with over 1,500 members, including city and county utilities, electric companies, gas companies, water and sewer districts, telephone companies and cable TV and Internet providers. Iowa One Call coordinates the marking of underground facilities throughout the state. Each year, Iowa One Call personnel handle more than 400,000 incoming calls and coordinate over 2 million underground facility locates within Iowa. Historically, the Center’s peak period is from April through October, when customer service representatives average more than 45,000 calls per month. For more information, visit www.iowaonecall.com.

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