Posts tagged planting

City gardens ready for potato planting on Good Friday

imga00711Good news for gardeners who lease plots from the city and want to get their potatoes planted on Good Friday… 

Despite some weather setbacks, Cedar Rapids parks staff finished tilling and marking all three of the city garden sites this week. Cedar Rapids leases out 150 plots at Ellis Park; 102 at Squaw Creek Park and 60 at the Tuma Soccer Complex. As of today, only 97  plots were rented at  the Ellis garden, which was flooded out for the season last June. Soil tests for benzene, arsenic and other chemicals have come back at safe levels, but some of the people who gardened at Ellis may have also been flooded out of their homes and won’t be back to garden.  

I spoke to E.B. Kunkle of Cedar Rapids today, who appeared to be the first gardener back at the Ellis site.

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. was planting onion sets. Last year, he was able to harvest green onions, spinach and radishes before the floods wiped out everything. Gardeners were advised against returning last year due to possible contaminants. Today’s weather was in the 50s and the soil was dry enough to get started, at least on onions. E.B. has tried growing potatoes in the past, but they were overcome by (my nemesis) the potato beetle.

Gardening lore calls for potatoes to be planted on Good Friday, which is tomorrow (April 10, 2009.) I doubt that I’ll get mine in that day, but as usual, turned to my uncle, Craig Musel, for advice. Uncle Craig gardens near Chelsea, Iowa, and always manages to win at least a few blue ribbons for his potatoes at the famous and fabulous Iowa State Fair. I talked to him Monday, and he said he started planting his potatoes about three weeks earlier, which would be mid-March. His tip? “I plant them whenever I can get them in the ground,” he said and keeps planting “until I’m done.”  Those blue ribbon winners – never want to reveal their secrets.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Starting seedlings

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

It’s February.   It’s nearly spring.  Never mind that the ground hog saw his shadow, now is the time for all gardeners to commence gardening preparations. 

Following is one of the most popular questions that Master Gardener volunteers are asked on the Hortline:  when should I start seeds indoors for transplanting to the garden?  The often used phrase “it depends” applies to this question.  It does depend on what plants you intend to grow.  The number of weeks from first sowing the seeds to planting outdoors may vary from flowers to vegetables.  Seed start time for some popular ones are as follows:  Geraniums—10 to 12 weeks; Petunia and Impatiens—8 to 10 weeks; Marigold, pepper and eggplant—6 to 8 weeks; Tomato, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower—5 to 7 weeks; Cucumbers, watermelon, muskmelon and squash—3 to 4 weeks.

If sowing seeds in flats or trays, fill the container to within one inch of the top with your planting medium.  Firm it down, water thoroughly, let it drain.  Fine seeds are sown on the surface and lightly pressed into the medium.  All other seeds are to be covered with planting medium to a thickness of one to two times of the seeds diameter.  Then water from the bottom (submerge) until the topsoil is wet then allow to drain.  Or you can water from the top with a bulb syringe.  Keep the soil uniformly moist, cover the container with a clear plastic food wrap. 

Always purchase good quality seeds.  Use clean containers.  Provide ample space for the seedlings to grow.  Air circulation should be good.  Follow planting directions on the packages and fertilize accordingly.  Adjustment to the out of doors should be a gradual process:  spending some time on the deck or porch before transplanting to beds would be wise.

My daughter and two grandkids are excited to plant their second garden.  Maybe we’ll try planting seeds and see if they get as excited as I do when sprouts commence popping through the soil.

 

Comments (1) »

Working on flood prevention

   Rain gardens are one of the ways individuals can work together to help reduce flooding. The Indian Creek Nature Center has scheduled the following two programs for Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 to learn more. Only a couple spots are open for the second session, on building a rain barrel. Call the Nature Center today (Friday) at (319) 362-0664 to register. Several spots are available in the first session on creating a rain garden, so you might be OK to just show up.

 

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-1 PM: CREATE A RAIN GARDEN-MEMBER:$8-NONMEMBER:$10-As citizens of the earth we have a responsibility to manage run-off from our property and yard. Learn how to capture water from hard surfaces and roofs in rain gardens. Rain gardens are beautiful and environmental! Native seed and plant sources, planting methods, and care will be discussed.

PUBLIC PROGRAM-RAINWATER IS NOT RUNOFF! RAINWATER IS A RESOURCE-2:30 PM: BUILD A RAIN BARREL-A MATERIALS FEE WILL BE CHARGED FOR THIS PROGRAM-Good ideas keep coming back! Our grandparents had a rain barrel and cistern to capture water from roofs. Water was then used for everyday household needs. Get creative and make your own rain barrel with Master Gardener Deb Walser.

 

The Indian Creek Nature Center is at 6665 Otis Rd. SE, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

Comments (1) »

Tree planting tips

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

Oh! The weather outside is delightful!   It’s so great to work in the yard now that it’s a bit cooler and less buggy.  The latest project is creating a stenciled board on the front of a new flower bed that says “Welcome to the Farm.”  Granddaughter Catie will be creatively adding flowers, leaves, butterflies and dragonflies. 

However, as I sat there painting, I couldn’t help but notice that the maple tree in the waterway looks pretty shabby.  We won’t be able to prune it until early winter. Some larger dead branches and some crossovers will need to come out.  The tree is a case of planting a wonderful tree in the wrong location!  Constantly soggy roots were not conducive to a healthy tree and we may need to replace this one.

As mentioned previously,  fall is a good time to plant a tree.  Choose wisely when purchasing one.  Avoid those amazing bargains.  Use a reputable nursery’s stock and investigate the guarantee prior to writing your check.  It’s a good idea to plant a balled or burlap wrapped tree in the fall.  Even a container tree should be o.k.  and will experience less stress than an open rooted specimen.  Ask about the tree’s adult height:  perhaps a dwarf model would better suit your location than a tree that may reach a height of 50-60 feet.  Plant the tree as soon as possible.  Dig the hole two to three times the diameter of the root ball.  The burlap will rot in the ground but remember to remove any rope or stakes. Water the tree well and keep the tree moist even into the winter.   Your tree needs to adapt to the soil in which you’re planting it so don’t amend the soil.  Amending the soil may create unwanted air pockets and prevent water from penetrating onto the roots.  Three or four inches of good organic mulch around, but not up against the trunk, will help to retain moisture

Leave a comment »

Lazy days of summer

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

LUV having the windows open!  LUV keeping the air conditioner off!  LUV sitting on the deck without bugs!  LUV having to mow the lawn only once a week!  It’s August.  Summer is winding down.  The cicadas are singing.  The robins are readying for their southern migration.  Soon we’ll experience the vibrant burst of burgundys and yellows and oranges.  School starts in a couple of weeks.  Are you ready for some football? 

            How are you going to tend your garden and yard for the rest of the lazy hazy days of August? 

Now is a great time to tour your yard looking for bare spaces or…….a good excuse to

  • create a new bed or add plants. How about peonies?  Choose a spot with sun and drainage.  Plant the “eye” (bud) about two inches deep.
  •  Or dig and divide your (or your neighbor’s—with their permission, of course) overgrown iris, poppies and other spring blooming perennials.  A good rule of thumb is to move spring blooming flowers in the fall and fall blooming flowers in the spring. 
  • Plant a tree!  Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. 
  • It’s best not to prune now.  Pruning will stimulate unwanted late season growth.
  • Think fall flower arrangements.  Invest in a Burning Bush, a Bayberry Bush or a Red-twigged Dogwood.  All have colored stems that will stand out in dreary winter landscape. And those reddish branches create an outstanding compliment to fall groupings of gourds, pumpkins and dried flowers.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is the best time to repair, replace or start a new lawn.  Lawns with fifty percent or more weeds should be replaced.  Always purchase quality lawn seed.  All grass seed mixes should contain several varieties of bluegrass, fescue and rye grass.

So, get up off that couch.  Get out in the yard.  Enjoy this great time of the year.

 

Leave a comment »

Seed sorting

Two-year-old Ravi Essmann of Cedar Rapids checks out packets of seeds next to his mother, Adrienne, at Monday night\'s Community Garden Party at Poet\'s Park. More than 30 people attended the Community Garden Party last night (May 12) at Poet’s Park in southeast Cedar Rapids.

Steve Hanken, who is leading the planting efforts at the park for the Oak Hill Jackson Neighborhood Association, has dug out a 10-by-24 foot wide garden bed in the park to start the community garden. Steve said he hopes to plant tomatoes soon, but it’s been too cold to start. A tiller he tried to use did little on the impacted ground, so Steve has been using a spade to ready the soil.

The Neighborhood Association hopes to offer gardening classes throughout the summer. Seeds handed out for residents to plant their own gardens have been donated to the project. If anyone would like to donate time or materials to the garden, contact Neighborhood Association President Michael Richards at (319) 213-2051.

Leave a comment »

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. 

Comments (1) »