Good Gardening in 2018 

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March's transition (lion) first 20 days are winter and (lamb) last 11 days a very welcomed spring, winter ‘18-19 has had a real knock-out punch its upper cut ‘polar vortex'. Sitting in anticipation of what impact this weather pattern is going to have aesthetically (floral and foliage) particularly to any broadleaf evergreen from ground covers (Vinca / Hedera) to shrubbery (Buxus / Azalea) into trees (Magnolia / Ilex). Additionally there may be damage to some deciduous plants i.e. crape myrtle, Japanese maple, mimosa, potted plants along with anything that was installed within last 2-3 years and certainly weakened plants whether cause was insect or disease. We always consider buds to be safe and secure but that may not be the situation only time will reveal as warmer temperatures raise nature's curtain for our annual spring flower show.  Exposure will have had an impact as well, plants in open areas facing northward it is assumed would be most susceptible but this swirling vortex came from multiple directions in some scenarios. Another welcomed circumstance that March brings daylight savings, later sundown. So no matter what, landscapes trouble (bacteria, cool season annual weeds flowering, grubs, deer, fungi, moles, scale, bagworms, violets arising...)  makers likely survived this nasty polar vortex and their presence will be seen very soon if not already. Be armed and ready to take necessary action from pruning or removal of damage plants, suppressing unwanted invaders, to adding well thought out additions from hardscapes to plant material.

WIND, HEAVY WET SNOW STORMS and SEVERE COLD SPELLS-tough start in 2019-personally and or professionally give all existing woody plant material a careful inspection (binoculars can help) for any and all wind related cracks, broken dangling branching or possibly bark splits have all damage removed ASAP, close inspection of all foliage on broadleaf evergreens and for buds opening on tender deciduous ornamental woodies i.e. Japanese maple, crape myrtle, mimosa...  

BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR-Birds-will stay loyal and visit landscapes where feeding continues-added plus seeing and meeting new hatchlings / young birds learning about winged world

SPRING'S WELCOMING-Color-there's something beautiful, tasty, tasteful, reflective of everyone's personalities, in many places and exposures, broad capabilities and attitudes some bring enjoyment during early growing season only then disappear while others just keep going and going into the fall, what is this specular gang - herbaceous (non-woodie) plants-right at home in balcony pots, patio planters, front door window boxes, raised, at grade, hillside beds, specialty collection gardens, in shade, sun or transitional, acidic / alkaline soils, wet, average or drier locations-though remember all will need care / maintenance with time and energy depending upon variety, do research if choosing new and make sure follow advice related to soil preparation for cool season annuals (pansy, toadflax),  perennials (columbine, hellebores) ground (evergreen-creeping phlox, periwinkle) covers, edibles (cool season i.e. cabbage, lettuce or perennial i.e. asparagus, strawberry) and remember as soils warm a new avalanche of possibilities will be inundating garden centers  

PLAY SMART-Soil Preparation-first step is getting professional soil test-then no matter anxious-if ground is WET (leaving foot prints) DO NOT WORK (creates below ground air pockets which could eventually cause roots to de-hydrate / die), when workable (for new bed / garden spaces) measure sq. ft. (add 2 cubic yds. compost or topsoil compost blend per 100 sq. ft.) to create raised planting area 6-8" above surroundings (better drainage / root development), mix with existing ground (do not simply lay on surface), established well performing garden space mix in 1-2" of compost every 2 years, poorly performing garden / bed space treat as if never planted / new-final step for bed areas adjacent to structures-slope 1" per 10' to insure positive drainage preventing wet soil puddles

BUFFERING WEATHER-Mulch-new installations-herbaceous plants, perennials, annuals, or ground covers-apply 1-2", woody plants 3-4"-established planting-keep depth as noted for new-don't over layer can cause problems of various kinds-organic materials are recommended (when breaking down beneficial to soil) but not essential vs. inorganic / rock

SEEKING NEW WOODY PLANT(S)-Trees / Shrubs (deciduous, coniferous, broadleaf)-are available several ways-bare root-usually smaller, wrapped in paper / bag with no growing medium, balled / burlap-larger plant, root ball / soil wrapped / tied in burlap (natural or plastic) and container-various size plant in rigid plastic pot with growing medium-install ASAP in  culturally compatible location dig hole 3X diameter (encourages lateral growth) of root ball but only 80% as deep (crown will be above surrounding ground allowing for settling)-water thoroughly, 3-4"  mulch over root ball, water daily 1 week, then check daily for another 7-10 water is soil is dry (under mulch), continue to monitor especially after buds expand and new growth begins  

WHAT'S POPPING UP-Spring Bulbs-foliage emergence / flowering-all varieties will break soil / potting (if pot grown) mix surface-smaller bulbs (i.e. snow drop, iris Danfordiae, grape hyacinth, crocus) are first flowerers, followed larger varieties (i.e. tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, alliums)-give proper care with  first fertilizing (5-10-10 good all-purpose choice) when foliage is 1" tall, feed monthly until flowering is finished and foliage begins to yellow-getting a jump on summer-pot up overwintered / new purchase tropical (i.e. dahlia, gladiola, canna caladium, elephant ears) bulbs / tubers, leave indoors (sunny window or under grow lights) in late April early May install in ground or pots  

ACTIVITY-Tropicals / Houseplants-as new growth begins fertilize (1/2 label rate), water more regularly, allow some water to sit in saucer (increases humidity beneficial to plants), if re-potting upgrade size only 1-2" larger than current pot, well drained orchids (growing in bark) / bromeliads keep humidity levels high (misting / watering)-watch for bugs in growing medium and on plants

EVERYBODY IS STARVING-Emerging Creatures-insects (slugs, scale, mites, tent caterpillars, fungus gnats, bagworms, grubs, white flies...) spent winter in protected locale as eggs, larva, pupa, or adults, warmer air and soil temperatures trigger activity i.e. morphing, boring, flying, webbing, breeding, chewing emerging buds (foliage or flowering) needles / leaves / heart wood, laying eggs...Before taking action make positive identification of ‘trouble maker' then research possible extent of damage, finally determine whether organic or inorganic, systemic or contact kill / control is best approach, vs. stream of water to physically knock bugs off, spray of soapy water, squashing with fingers...wildlife (rabbits, mice, voles, deer, moles, chipmunks...) new plant growth is welcomed as winter food availability diminished daily-similar to insects make sure what / who is causing damage which can be from underground to trunks to twigs, branches, foliage then decide if repellents, poisons, traps, or a combination will be most effective to minimize damage or decide to accept damage as part of nature   

GREEN GREEN GRASS of HOME-Lawn-anticipate and staying ahead can make a huge difference, dealing with cool season (fescue / bluegrass) now (warm season-zoysia still dormant-activity triggered by greening) whether application of pre-emergent (organic or inorganic) for warm season annual weed control, perennial, existing cool season annual weed control, wildlife damage (moles to skunks), disease, physical compaction, pet urination, recognition / control, routine care / maintenance-fertilizing, core aeration, compost top dressing, fallen leaf control (mulching mower or raking / removal), watering, dethatching, mow to maintain lawn blade length 2.5-3" as temperatures rise elevate mower height by ½" every few weeks depending upon rate of growth 

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER 1-Weeds-numerous varieties, all very tough, some adaptable to varied growing conditions, others very growing site specific, broad categories annual, biennial or perennial, invasive attributes underground growth and or seed dispersal-3 major groups-broadleaf-wide leaf with branched veins, examples; dandelions, violets, chickweed, and spurge, grass slender blades veins running parallel to edge, examples; annual blue grass, wild onions or garlic, and goose grass, sedge-narrow grassy greenish yellow colored triangular stem example; nutgrass / yellow water grass-Control-hand digging to chemical (organic and inorganic) formula impact possibilities range from broad spectrum to species specific-determine problem to make best decision for solution  



Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

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