Posts tagged seedlings

Answers to your questions and what about those tiny worms??

Cyndi Lee asked the following: I have found a large trail of what at first looked like sawdust, but upon closer examination are very tiny worm like things. They are falling from the large tree I have which overhangs our deck. Any idea what these are? They are very tiny and are falling in clumps. They are a pale yellow in color.

 If you know what the worms might be, please leave a reply below.

 Linn County Master Gardeners have answered some of the other questions you’ve been asking:

 Q: We have a small vine-like weed that is taking over the gardens and flower beds. they are small leafed the stems are strong and grow upon the plants and choke them off. I pull them constantly but they continue to grow back. Is there anything that I can spray them with without killing off the flowers and garden plants? I would appreciate your input.

ANSWER: Cut and paint cut end with undiluted Round Up.  Use a small foam brush.

 Q: I found a large worm on my mom’s apple trees and what to know if they are good worm or bad. where can I take then to find out? I can take them to Ames but where in Ames?????

ANSWER: Bring sample to Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  We’ll try to identify it here, or give info to ISU.

 Q: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: They will need to be pulled out.

 Q: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its bottom and just does not look right. Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

ANSWER: The tree is under stress for some reason.  Prune now.  Do not paint anything on wound.  It will heal itself.

 Linn County Master Gardeners also answer questions on Iowa State University extension’s horticulture hotline at (319) 447-0647.

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Your questions: tree talk

Readers have trees on their minds this month.

Dale, who lives in southeastern Wisconsin, submitted the following question: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its
bottom and just does not look right.  Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

Teresa submitted the following: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

If you have advice for Dale or Teresa, leave a comment below.

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Stop the killing! Take care of those seedlings

You’ve planted your seeds indoors, waited for them to sprout and one day find a container of tiny, droopy plants.

    What went wrong?

    Damping-off could be responsible for the collapse and death of your seedlings.

    The gardening experts at Iowa State University Extension note that damping-off is caused by several different fungi. Environmental conditions usually associated with damping-off are poorly drained potting soil and overwatering.

    Damping-off can be prevented by using clean containers, a sterile, well-drained potting mix and by following good cultural practices.  Previously used containers should be washed in soapy water, then disinfected by dipping in a solution containing one part chlorine bleach and nine parts water. Flower and vegetable seeds need an evenly moist potting mix for good germination.  After germination, allow the potting soil to dry somewhat between waterings. 

 

   I’m getting a later than usual start on my seedlings, having just planted my first round today. The earliest I’ve planted seeds indoors was in late January – I had flowers blooming by the end of March. Some plants, of course, need more time to grow than others. The ISU gardening experts also offer this reminder on the starting times for seeds: The crop time (number of weeks from sowing to planting outdoors) for several popular flowers and vegetables are as follows: 10 to 12 weeks – geranium; eight to 10 weeks – petunia and impatiens; six to eight weeks – marigold, pepper, and eggplant; five to seven weeks – tomato, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower; three to four weeks – cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon and squash.  Always check the seed packet if unsure of the correct sowing date. 

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Guilt-free Girl Scout cookies

 I don’t have the calorie count on the cookies, but the empty containers from Girl Scouts’ “Thanks-A-Lot” cookies are the perfect size to hold three seedling pots.  (Don’t try to cheat with Thin Mints, which are packaged in foil.) Go ahead and share your Thanks-A-Lot cookies with someone or take them to work, then reuse the plastic container for plants that you start indoors and know that  you’re doing your part to help the environment. And, if you’re using newspaper for the seed-starting pots, that’s doubly good!

seed-starting pots

seed-starting pots

 

 

    If you’d like to try making the newspaper pots, you can click on the link below for a short video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/v/Yh_Szm79VQw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Potmaking – reprise

This was first posted last March, but because it’s that season, once again, to start seedlings indoors, I thought it was timely.

 The white outside is nearly gone and we’re thinking green: green gardens, saving some green and being environmentally friendly. With help from my production assistants, Brennan and Schyler, we have a project to show that combines all three.

Click the link below to watch a short how-to video.

 

http://www.youtube.com/v/Yh_Szm79VQw

 

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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.

 

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Overseeding lawns

Richard Jauron, Horticulture Specialist at Iowa State University Extension, offers the following on overseeding lawns:

Healthy, well maintained lawns are attractive landscape additions.  Lawns in poor condition, however, are somewhat unsightly.  The poor condition of a lawn may be due to poor management, heat, drought, diseases, insects or other factors.  In severe cases, the existing lawn may have to be destroyed and a new one established on the site.  Lawns that contain over 50 percent desirable grasses can often be improved by overseeding.  

Overseeding is the sowing of grass seed into an existing lawn.  In Iowa, the best time to overseed a lawn is late summer (late August to mid-September).

Site Preparation

Good site preparation is necessary for successful overseeding.  If possible, identify and correct the problems causing the lawn to decline.  Overseeding may only be a temporary solution if these problems are not corrected. 

To reduce the competition from the established turfgrass, mow the lawn at a height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches.  Successful overseeding also requires good seed-to-soil contact.  Simply throwing or broadcasting seed over the lawn typically results in poor seed germination as much of the seed is resting on the thatch layer or soil surface.  Rakes, core aerators, vertical mowers, and slit seeders can be used to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. 

Overseeding Small Areas

Small areas can be prepared by gently raking the thin spots.  When raking, it’s necessary to break the soil surface without pulling out the existing turfgrass.  After raking, sow the seed by hand.  Then, work the seed into the soil by gently raking the areas a second time. 

Overseeding Large Areas

Large areas can be prepared by using a core aerator.  Core aerators are machines with hollow metal tubes or tines.  They remove plugs of soil when run over the lawn.  To prepare the site, go over the lawn three or four times with the core aerator.  When finished, there should be 20 to 40 holes per square foot.  Apply the seed with a drop seeder.  Afterward, drag the area with a piece of chain link fence or drag mat to break up the soil cores and mix the seed into the soil. 

It’s also possible to prepare the site with a vertical mower.  When run over the lawn, the knife-like blades of the vertical mower slice through the thatch and penetrate into the upper 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil.  One or two passes should be sufficient.  Afterwards, remove any dislodged debris from the lawn.  Sow grass seed over the lawn with a drop seeder.  Work the seed into the soil by again going over the site with the vertical mower. 

Large areas also can be overseeded with a slit seeder.  A slit seeder makes small grooves in the soil and deposits the seed directly into the slits. 

Core aerators, vertical mowers and slit seeders can be rented at many garden centers and rental agencies.  If you would rather not do the work yourself, many professional lawn care companies can overseed your lawn. 

Post Seeding Care

Keep the seedbed moist with frequent, light applications of water.  It’s usually necessary to water at least once or twice a day.  Continue to mow the lawn at a height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches.  Mow the lawn frequently to reduce the competition from the established turfgrass.  When the new seedlings reach a height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches, gradually increase the mowing height over the next several weeks.  The final mowing height should be 2-1/2 to 3 inches.  Approximately six weeks after germination, fertilize the lawn by applying 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.  

When properly overseeded, a thin, scruffy-looking lawn can be turned into a thick, lush lawn in just a few weeks. 

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Coping with the floods

For our out-of-state readers who haven’t heard, floods have been threatening homes and disrupting lives in Iowa this week, with the situation worsening as of today in Cedar Rapids.

 

Once the floodwaters recede, we can hopefully carry on with our lives, including the peace we gain in our gardens.

 

With that in mind, nationally known garden expert Melinda Myers, who visited Iowa earlier this year during the Winter Gardening Fair, offers gardeners advice for dealing with flood damage…

 

As flood waters recede and homeowners, finding themselves a bit overwhelmed, move their attention from wet basements to their landscapes, Myers recommends the following:

 

Assess the damage, manage hazards, and wait for the soil to dry. Then be sure to manage early plantings of food crops safely by washing produce exposed to flood waters.  And play it safe by discarding any garden produce exposed to raw sewage as it can be hazardous to your health. Next, repair damaged soil, and watch for signs of flood damage-induced problems that may appear later in the season such as root rot or pest infestations.

 

Assess damage and manage hazards immediately.  Look to certified arborists (tree care professionals) to help with pruning and removal of hazardous branches and trees.  They have the skill, equipment and expertise to do the job safely and properly.

 

Most trees can usually withstand a week or less of flood conditions. More than this and you will start seeing leaves yellow and curl, branches die and extended periods of standing water can cause death for some trees. 

 

In the garden, seedlings and young transplants may have been killed or washed away. If this is the case, wait for the soil to dry before replanting. Early season crops such as leaf lettuce, spinach and radishes should be washed before eating and no garden produce exposed to raw sewage should be consumed.

 

Soil will also have an impact. When it is caked on the leaves of plants, it can block sunlight, preventing the plants from photosynthesizing (making needed energy) and the leaves can eventually yellow and die. Once the landscape dries out a bit, you can gently wash off any soil stuck on the leaves. Additionally, soil has been adversely affected by the floods. The water logged soil kills many of the micro organisms that help create a healthy soil foundation. The pounding rains and dislodged soil particles can add to soil compaction. Be sure to wait for the soil to dry before you start the rebuilding process.  Adding organic matter such as peat moss and compost will help add needed micro-organisms and start the rebuilding process. 

 

“If your new plantings were washed away and gardens flooded, the good news is that there is still time to plant. If the damage is more extensive, try containers this summer as you rebuild the landscape,” said Myers. “And if you were lucky enough to escape damage – help a friend.  A few flowers can bring a smile in less than 15 seconds and your waterlogged gardening friends may just need a bit of garden relief.”

 

For additional gardening tips, garden podcasts, videos and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

 

Myers, best known for her practical, gardener-friendly approach to gardening, has more than 25 years of horticultural experience in both hands-on and instructional settings. She has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist, and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. Myers shares her expertise through a variety of media outlets.

She is the author of numerous gardening books, including “Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.” She hosts “Great Lakes Gardener,” seen on PBS stations throughout the United States and “Melinda’s Garden Moments,” which air on

network television stations throughout the country. She also appears

regularly as a guest expert on various national and local television and radio shows. She writes the twice monthly “Gardeners’ Questions” newspaper column and is a contributing editor and columnist for Birds & Blooms and Backyard Living magazines. In addition, she has written articles for Better

Homes and Gardens and Fine Gardening. Myers also hosted “The Plant Doctor”

radio program for over 20 years.

 

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Pot-making 101

The white outside is nearly gone and we’re thinking green: green gardens, saving some green and being environmentally friendly. With help from my production assistants, Brennan and Schyler, we have a project to show that combines all three. Click the link below to watch a short how-to video.

http://www.youtube.com/v/Yh_Szm79VQw

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Got milk? (jugs)

Now is a good time to save empty plastic milk jugs to use as protective covers for your tomato and pepper plants and other seedlings you plan to plant this spring. Rinse out the jugs a few times and let them dry before cutting an inch or so off the bottom. I started saving mine in January and have a dozen ready to go if spring ever does arrive.

Once your seedlings are planted, place the jug on top and put a stick through the hole where the lid had been to keep the container in place. Milk jugs make great little hothouses for individual plants and protect them from rabbits and other critters until they’re past that tempting, tender stage. Take the jugs off when the weather sufficiently warms and when the plants begin to outgrow them.

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