Posts tagged rain

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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Lawn care fun

One thing I haven’t missed with this late spring is mowing the lawn, although that time will come soon enough with our regular rain and warmer temps.

Read on for a fun story my sister passed along about the nature of lawns:

The Gardeners

 

Anyone with a lawn or garden should get a kick out of this.

 

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

 

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

 

GOD: Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to

temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

 

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

 

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

 

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it– sometimes twice a week.

 

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

 

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

 

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

 

ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

 

GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

 

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

 

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

 

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

 

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.

 

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

 

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

 

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

 

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

 

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

 

GOD: Enough. I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

 

ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It’s a real stupid movie about . .

 

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

 

  

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