Good Gardening in 2018 

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EXPECT APRIL AESTHETICS to be FANTASTIC ala roller coaster ride-whether enjoying status quo and or adding to current landscape characteristics while MARCH'S wet / coolish hangover and APRIL FOOLS DAY sleet / rain / snow, unexpected low temps during April first week should soon be forgotten, marvel as Spring Explodes with brand new 2018 happenings-APRIL equals unbelievable

Flight-ed Happenings-Hummingbirds heading north from winter home in Central America, wasp and hornet queens begin nesting, bees of all sorts will be out and about-be(e) conscious of their presence along with other pollinating insects, please don't spray insecticides on blooming fruit trees or flowering shrubs

Making Best Bed Space, then Picking Out / Purchasing Plants-a)-check everything where water sits / runs, underground utility lines / wires, near-by plantings-b). new garden, additions to existing one-delineate area, control / remove unwanted vegetation-c). measure square footage of space, purchase or have on hand amendments (compost), 2 cubic yards per 100 square feet of garden-d). work / turn over ground, layer 2" of amendments mix with existing, continue adding 2" at a time and blending, this will raise planting area 6", rake surface to insure slope away from any building-e). purchasing plants-spend time checking leaves / stems-consistency of size, color, rigidity, is plant leaning, thin or stretched out, feel potting mix for moisture (not soggy-or moldy smelling), any insects present on plant, soil surface, pot bottom, purchase only healthiest plants-now at home place plants out of direct sun and water-keep damp until planting time-best if not held more than 7 days

Down and Dirty-Plant Installation / Transplanting-day before installation / transplanting water designated area planting area, plant material schedule for relocation and keep all newly purchased plants (pre-installation) well-watered-Containerized Plant Installation-many plants decline and or are very slow to establish due to improper planting follow these steps dig hole 3 times root diameter-depth 2/3 root length so top of root ball is above surrounding ground / bed space, potted plant removal-tip container upside down-with stem cluster between fingers, jiggle until plant slips out, shake free some potting mix look check for white (healthy) roots, overly tangled roots gently loosen, and spread, root check hole depth-if okay hold plant upright, backfill soil and tamp, check depth again top of roots above surrounding surface, water immediately-if soil sinks around plant add more backfill, suggest pinching off flowers / fruit to reduce stress on newly installed plants, spread mulch over crown, watering is last step before walking away, reducing chance of root dehydration, do not allow wilting for at least first 2 weeks after installation check daily and water if needed, but don't over water this can cause root rot which will give a wilted appearance

Finished Planting now What About Now Empty Plastic Containers, Pots, Flats, Cell Packs-consider recycling, ask at favorite garden center or check MO. Botanical Garden to see if they collect / recycle clean plastic containers / flats info Pots / Containers Part 2-any that contained diseased plants last year-empty and discard potting mix, wash pot inside and out with dish washing soap and water before re-using, refill with new potting mix

Be Colorful and Generous-did you happen to buy more plants then you need or when making purchases why not pick up a few extra plants, or if plant divisions provided some overflow-contact Gateway Greening, Brightside St. Louis and make a donation of these plants for community gardens and public spaces-

Bulbs, Bulbs and more Bulbs-fertilize all spring (crocus, snowdrops, daffodils...) bloomers at label rate, remove shriveled flowers, don't rubber band leaves (reduces food production capabilities) increasing chance of disappoint for spring '19-summer / tropical (elephant ears, canna, caladiums...) types pot up and place in warm locations to break dormancy and stimulate growth, locate bulbs or pots in permanent location mid or late month or early, Easter lilies-are hardy, plant outdoors post blooming, dig hole 5-6" deep in well drained area, allow foliage to remain to build bulb strength for next year

Instant Impact - Tropicals / Houseplants-over-wintered or new purchase-even sun tolerant varieties need to acclimate to direct sunlight after 11:00a.m.-initially place in part shade location for 2-4 weeks so they can adjust and minimize leaf sun burn, after that sun loving plants should be ready for afternoon or all day sun bathing, but always be conscious of leaf burn / scorch, all plants need to be fertilized / kept watered routinely 

Be Pro-Active-Catch Troubles Early-control is easiest during early stages of any problems-Insects (mites, tent caterpillars, bagworms, white flies, etc.) have wintered over in various stages from eggs, larva, or adults hidden in natural splits of tree bark, in last year's fallen vegetation, underside of boards (slugs / snails) rockery crevices, downspout piping, stacks of wood, virtually everywhere - remember some even tried to come inside your home (box elder bugs or lady bugs) to wait the winter out, 1). Realize soil and air temperatures that trigger grand showings by plant material do the same thing for head and heartaches-examples as maple trees finish flowering look out for-tent caterpillar (thick webbing in branches), pine sawflies (worms on candles of pines), spider mites (on houseplants just brought outdoors), other insects eating and or laying eggs-Correctly identify insects in area of concern (many aren't problematic) look at options in relationship to potential damage-chemical, cultural, physical, and natural bacteria, predators / parasites each with pluses and minuses- regardless of choice always read and follow label before applying / releasing anything to best results-Diseases (fungus, bacteria) and keep an eye for spring lawn fungus especially if there is a history of trouble, watch for orange, jelly-like galls / blobs on cedars / junipers, this is cedar apple rust can impact apples, crabapples and hawthorns foliage, new growth, overall health Weeds-very diverse group-control is very type specific, vary adaptable to almost everywhere either annual, biennial or perennial life cycle, spread with underground growth and or seed dispersal-broadleaf wide with branched veins-examples; dandelions, violets, chickweed, and spurge-grass slender reeds with veins running parallel to margin-examples; crabgrass, wild onions / garlic, goose grass-sedges / nutgrass-narrow greenish yellow grass-like blades forming a triangle at ground-Control-first correct identification apply labeled herbicide--other control options digging, landscape fabric, mulch remember total eradication can take several years of battling, no matter course of action taken

Fertilize-many cases if is best to apply fertilizer formulated for special group / type (i.e. acid loving, annuals, vegetables) of plant, begin at first signs of active growth plants, amount and frequency according to label

Lawns-sharpen mower blades (reduce disease potential) blade height 2.5-3.0", core aerate / compost spreading, or power rake cool season (blue grass / fescues) varieties, can be seeded or sodded, zoysia action weather dependent when greening starts make first mowing blade height 1-1.5" if possible bag or mulch clippings to reduce thatch, for additional mowing blade height 2-2.5"

Roses-reduce mulch leave 1-2" over crown, set fungicide (read label) program for black spot, mildew, etc. spray every other week (weather dependent), make first application of rose fertilizer 

Water Bog Garden-clear / clean surroundings, basin, waterfalls, pots of debris, change out water if needed, check survival of hardy plant, discard any showing soft bruised areas, check fish
MARCH-ING to nature’s drum beat as ‘winter season’ shuts down and ‘spring season’ opens officially on the 20th-during this transition time watch out for a great eruption of bud (leaf / needle and flower) growth from woodie to herbaceous keep an eye out for yellow witchhazel, cornelian cherry, and forsythia, crocus rainbows streaking across your view, purples, pinks, emerald greens, whites and maroons from so many different plants it will create a dizzy visual atmosphere. Daylight savings begins on 11th allowing for more time to enjoy, evaluate, re-orchestrate, add-to and or reduce…While embracing wonderfulness keep your senses attuned to possibility of trouble makers, catching eradicating them early is worth the effort.

BUG-GRRS-Many Insects (mites, tent caterpillars, bagworms, white flies, etc.) have wintered over in various stages of their lives, either eggs, larva, or adults in the natural splits or texture of the tree branches, trunks, twigs or who knows...March days get warmer increasing insect life cycle activity will become visually obvious whether flying, webbing, chewing needles / leaves.
Recommended courses of action:

     pre a). Always read or re-read label before applying any pesticide to insure it is safe to use on plant(s) and for insects that are targeted
a). if new leaves have NOT started to emerge from the buds, apply (spray) trees and shrubs there still is time to use a dormant oil which coats and suffocates all insect stages. Once leaf buds opening or flowering has begun on, it is too late to apply dormant oil or expect severe damage to any emerging leaf / flower         pre b). watch all (woodies-trees / shrubs) evergreen or deciduous, ornamental, fruiting, or otherwise-for any sort of insect activity-even simply crawling or flying around because they will soon be eating, damaging and or laying eggs
b). Make sure to identify insect correctly properly if control because of possible plant damage is needed-chemical (inorganic or organic), cultural, physical, natural bacteria, predators, or parasites. Choice is personal with each having pluses and minuses related to speed of ‘kill’, application device, equipment, and controlling product availability are examples
c). Maple trees (though not spectacular) are one of first spring bloomers, air temperature that starts blooming will trigger-tent caterpillar (thick webbing in branches of trees), pine sawflies (worms on ends of the pine branches) hatching / eating and spider mites feeding on underside of foliage, control effectiveness is prime because younger insects are more fragile and weaker Second wave of different insect activity will occur as red buds begin blooming
Reminder-many insecticides are contact killers meaning chemical must hit target bug directly, random preventive spraying is a waste of time, product and money
BULB-BLES-Leaves (not flower buds) of many bulbs are starting to peak up above the surface, are tough and protection is not needed. The foliage may experience tip burn (browning) if the weather dips back into the below zero wind chills where you live. This should not hurt the flowering. If the flowers are out and a snow comes, again not permanent damage will happen. This is all part of the game as frustrating as it can be. Getting the most and longest life from your spring flowering bulbs-benefit from monthly fertilizing with a balanced food diet and watering if dry through the growing season. Allow the foliage of any hardy bulb to persist, at the minimum, until it is half brown. It is best to allow the leaves to die entirely, which adds more strength for next year’s blooms. Do not bend, rubber band or braid leaves; this reduces surface, and hurts bulb strength. Pest and disease problem are minimal when bulbs are properly planted. 

MO-LES-TATION-their activity mole-st your lawn and bed spaces triggering activity is ground temperatures warming-meaning earthworms (main food source) and other in ground insects begin moving and that is how moles find food by listening, though moles are territorial, so quantity is quite small in each landscape, except this time of year, new babies were recently or are being born and what normally is a two mole yard could now be a 5+ mole yard, when young ones begin tunneling for food-Killing method proven to be most effective is flatten all tunnels any that pop back up in a day or two are being used-set several victor spear or choker loop traps along active tunnel, relocate if nothing is caught in 1-2 days repeat routinely even after some moles have been killed (now ones can move in especially if your yard / lawn are in good health this means more earthworms / insects for moles to hunt / eat, yards where pets or children are present-place bucket over trap
FLOW-ER-ING COLORS-from herbaceous plants options are almost endless whether bulbs (plant in fall), perennials, ground covers, vegetables, annuals i.e. creeping phlox, snow drops, Lenten rose, columbine, crocus forget me not, toad flax, pansy, linneria, broccoli, ornamental cabbage are examples early colorful plants is and want to make them part of your landscape. Annuals-cool season types if purchased planted in ground, pots, window boxes realize there could be some flower faces turning down when temperatures dip below 32

LAWN-DIARY-Winter Early Spring Lawn Fungus Problems-Fusarium Patch (Pink Snow Mold)- Can occur whether snow has occurred or NOT--from 1-12” rounded bleached tan, whitish gray, reddish brown spots appear randomly, key identification--dense white to bright or pale pink mold covers the grass blades on the outer edge of the spot--Typhula Blight (Gray Snow Mold)- as snow melts again rounded grayish to straw colored, size from 2’ or more can merge together making an unusual pattern. Matted down grass is first covered by a fluffy mold that becomes a silvery crust--Leaf Smuts (Stripe and Flag)- occurs in spring / fall, pale green or yellowed blades which are stunted from very small to large patches. Stripes will develop on blades, turning gray, finally releasing a black dust (spores). Additionally, blades will twist and turn downward--Yellow Patch- 2 foot rings of brown grass-with the center greenish (frogeye-like, though not the summer disease). Best control core aerate and or power rake in spring and fall, do not allow grass to be longer than 3” going into the winter, prevent build-up of fallen leaf debris.

To or Can Do-Quickie List
Pruning Woodies-(cut off any cracked / broken branches ASAP)-always make cuts at 45 degree angle for fasting healing-prune spring bloomers right after flowering, prune summer bloomers (ASAP) before buds break open-use sharpened tools, and clean blades (bleach / water mix) after cutting off anything diseased Mow-all lawns make first cut with blades set at 2” (don’t scalp) to help clear thatch / debris (bag if possible), cool season (bluegrass, fescue) next cut blade height 3-4”-ground covers-(liriope, ivy, vinca set blade height 4-5” should remove winter burn, gathered fallen leaf debris, after mowing lawn and or ground covers inspect and control any ‘weeds’ observed Allow Hardy Bulb Foliage to Remain-until at least 50% brown before removal, no cutting, bending folding over, any foliage that did not produce flowering is likely to old and may never flower again Perennial Plant Foliage / Stems-from last year cut down, remove to help reduce potential troubles Tropicals / Houseplants-to soon to move outdoors, start fertilizing at ½ label rate, if planning repotting do so now allowing for settling if plants are scheduled to movement outdoors later

Must Do
Keep Eyes Open-anything that doesn’t seem right-whether suspected weed invasion, fungi, bacteria, disease, animal or insect damage-unsure get professional help ASAP to minimize headaches, longer any problematic situation is let go-longer and more expensive (real and mental money) it becomes



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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