Posts tagged drainage

Waking the garden

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, who wrote this on a more pleasant day than today:

 

Yes, Mr. Rogers, it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  And presentations by Master Gardeners Deb Walser on New Perennials and Becki Lynch on Grasses at the Lawn and Garden Show last weekend got me really, really motivated to work in the yard.  As I moaned about achy muscles, my favorite Granddaughter Catie, chided me for not stretching before grabbing the rake and nippers.  Now is a great time to commence waking your flower and vegetable beds.   If you have heavy concentrations of leaves and debris in the beds packed down by snow and ice, rake them out and fire up the lawn mower or shredder.  Fluff the mulch and add the shredded leaves to the top of it. Air, water and nutrients need to reach dormant roots and bulbs. Encourage drainage.  Poorly drained soil or standing water will cause roots and bulbs to rot.  Think soil amendments.  Add compost to your beds.  If you’re thinking of having the soil tested, now is a good time and you can pick up the test from the Extension Office.    I got about half my beds trimmed and raked out today before I ran out of energy.  During a break I enjoyed cold tea instead of hot coffee, and planned further for the new bed I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I know where the old seeder wagon and garden gate can stand.  I know approximately how much mulch and grass cloth to purchase.  And, I know about how many Hostas to buy at the Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant Sale.  I’ll broach the subject of the stone erosion control area to my favorite son at a later date.  

                 Draw a diagram of your deck and create an interesting focal point using your houseplants grouped with potted annuals.   Several years ago another Master Gardener suggested moving house plants outside for the summer.  It’s amazing how they thrive.  Just remember to keep them out of the direct, hot sunlight.  Get them ready now by repotting, if necessary.  Begin watering and fertilizing lightly and gradually increase exposure to sunlight. 

                Achy muscles aside, the fresh air and sunshine were so welcome. I’m anxious to get back out and clean up the remainder of the gardens.

                P.S. Many of you will be receiving or purchasing Hardy Oriental, Asiatic or traditional white lilies soon.  Keep them healthy by placing them in a cool, bright location in your home.  Keep the soil moist but not wet.  Perforate or remove the decorative foil so the water doesn’t collect in the decorative pot or basket.  Remember to place the pot on a saucer to prevent spills.  Continue to care for the lily after the flowers fade because they can be planted outdoors.  The planting site should be in full sun with well drained soil.  Lilies create beautiful backdrops or vertical accents.

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Forcing daffodils

The following is from the Iowa State University Extension gardening experts:

To successfully force daffodils indoors, you’ll need high quality bulbs, a well-drained commercial potting mix and suitable containers. Containers for forcing can be plastic, clay, ceramic or metal. Almost any container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom.

Begin by partially filling the container with potting soil. Then place the daffodil bulbs on the soil surface. Adjust the soil level until the tops of the bulbs are even or slightly below the rim of the container. The number of bulbs to plant per pot depends on the size of the bulb and container. Typically, three to five bulbs are appropriate for a 6-inch-diameter pot. A 6-inch pot also will usually accommodate five to seven bulbs of miniature varieties.

Once properly positioned, place additional potting soil around the bulbs, but do not completely cover the bulbs. Allow the bulb tops (noses) to stick above the potting soil. For ease of watering, the level of the soil mix should be 1/2 to 1 inch below the rim of the container. Label each container as it is planted. Include the name of the variety and the planting date. After potting, water each container thoroughly.

In order to bloom, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be exposed to temperatures of 40 to 45 F for 12 to 16 weeks. Possible storage sites include the refrigerator, root cellar, or an outdoor trench. During cold storage, water the bulbs regularly and keep them in complete darkness.

Begin to remove the potted daffodil bulbs from cold storage once the cold requirement has been met. At this time, yellow shoots should have begun to emerge from the bulbs. Place the daffodils in a cool (50 to 60 F) location that receives low to medium light. Leave them in this area until the shoots turn green, usually four or five days. Then move them to a brightly lit, 60 to 70 F location.

Keep the plants well watered. Turn the containers regularly to promote straight, upright growth. On average, flowering should occur three to four weeks after the bulbs have been removed from cold storage. For a succession of bloom indoors, remove pots from cold storage every two weeks.

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Black gold

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

Busy morning today.  A friend came out to “scoop poop”.  Actually, he used the skid loader.  He took a pickup load of horse manure.   He’s spreading that Black Gold on his garden in preparation for next spring’s vegetable garden!           

                How do you know if your soil needs enhancement?  For a small fee, you can always obtain a soil testing kit from the Linn County Extension office.  And, check for earthworms.  In any hole of one cubic foot, you should see at least five earthworms.  Earthworms aerate the soil and add considerable fertility to the earth with their castings (waste).  If you don’t have worms now, add organic material as a remedy.

                Considered composting.  Composting is basically decomposed material.  It is the controlled biological and chemical decomposition of organic material.    Composted material resembles black fluffy soil.  Added to soil, compost improves drainage, increases aeration, and aids water retention and nutrients all of which create better root development resulting in healthier plants. 

By amending the soil, composting reduces the need to use chemical fertilizers.  Homemade compost is economical to make.   Compost provides a slow release of nutrients over an extended period.   Compost can be mixed into the top 6-8 inches of garden soil or spread in a one inch layer around perennials.

 Instead of raking all of the leaves from your yard into the street, deposit them in a pile—or bin—in an obscure area of your yard.  Mix in non-diseased stems and cuttings from your flower and vegetable garden. Add shredded or torn newspaper (do not use the colored sheets, however).   Coffee grounds, potato peelings and egg shells can be used as well as leftover fruits and vegetables.  Grass clippings and yard trimmings will decompose.  Do not use cat litter.  Lard, grease, oil, meat or fish bones may attract unwanted scavengers.  Add water and stir.  How much compost do you need?  Incorporating two inches of compost into a 200 sq. ft. garden will require 33.33 cu. ft., or 1.2 cu. yds. or 41.66 bushels or 83.33 five gallon buckets. 

For an explanation of creating a compost bin, call the Linn County Master Gardeners at the Horticulture Hotline at 319-447-0647. 

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