Tag Archive | spring gardening

10 Tips for Spring Pruning Success

by Melinda Myers (see more tips from Melinda at https://www.melindamyers.com/)

Early spring is a great time to do a bit of pruning. Knowing what to prune and when will help you achieve the best results for the health of your plants and beauty in your landscape.

·      Remove dead, damaged and rubbing stems and branches back to healthy growth. Prune just above an outward facing bud, branch or main stem and flush with the branch bark collar on trees.

·      Check plants for and remove the swollen growths of black knot on plum and cherry trees and sunken discolored cankers on the stems of trees and shrubs. Prune 6 to 9” below the canker and disinfect tools between cuts.

·      When pruning diseased material be sure to disinfect tools between cuts with a spray disinfectant or rubbing alcohol.

·      Prune summer blooming Annabelle-type hydrangeas, potentillas and spireas to encourage compact sturdy growth. Cut all the stems back halfway and half of these back to ground level.

·      Rejuvenate overgrown suckering shrubs by removing a third of the older and larger stems back to ground level. Reduce the overall height, if needed, by no more than a fourth. Repeat for the next few years.

·      Prune fruit trees and fruiting vines to increase flowering and subsequent fruiting.

·      Improve their appearance by removing faded flowers left on shrubs for winter interest. Be careful not to remove any flower buds already formed on spring flowering shrubs.

·      Wait until after spring flowering shrubs bloom to prune if you want to maximize the floral display. Consider doing more severe pruning, when needed, in late winter or early spring when it is less stressful for the plant. Force the trimmings into flower and enjoy in a bouquet indoors.

·      Make sure your tools are sharp, so the pruning cuts close quickly and use aquality bypass pruner, like the Corona® BP 6310. Through April 5, you can get it for only $29.88 + free shipping – a savings of 40% off the regular price.

Simply visit Corona’s website and use the code SAVE40MM to receive 40% off + free shipping! If you need help on how to get the 40% off + free shipping, visit https://www.coronatoolsusa.com/sas-help for instructions.

·      Remember to keep yourself safe by wearing safety glasses and heavy-duty gloves. It’s too easy to focus on the task and end up with a stick in the eye or scratches and bruises. Consider synthetic leather gauntlet style gloves like Foxgloves extra protection gloves that protect hands and forearms from harm.

Stay safe and healthy!

Melinda

Basement Nursery

In an effort to improve seedling production in the spring, you might consider moving your seedlings from a sunny window (that may or may not be sunny every day) to an area where you can install fluorescent lights. Moving seedlings into an environment where the light can be controlled, and the day and night temperatures won’t fluctuate wildly, cries out for a heated basement. Even the sunniest windows rarely offer more than a few hours of really bright light each day, and that doesn’t count the losses because of cloudy days or a light covering of dust or dirt on the window glass.

dbe19db223bbfa992e50b92fe1b12023--a-frame-plant-standsBut even with the fluorescent lights on for 18 hours, seedlings don’t really get enough light. While a fluorescent light looks bright to us, it is a poor substitute to a seedling expecting to bask in the sun. To provide enough light, use two 4-foot-long, two-bulb shop fixtures (available at any hardware store), suspended just 2 to 6 inches above the seedlings.

Special grow lights aren’t magic. Often, there is just a blue coating on the inside of the tube. The overall amount of light is reduced, and the seedlings think they have sunglasses on. A mix of warm white and cool white tubes will give the right kind of light, and more of it.

A small fan is needed nearby to move the air, helping to prevent fungus diseases and to flex those little seedling stems, enabling them to grow stronger and thicker (just like going to the gym). But don’t get carried away trying to make little Arnold Schwarzenpeppers.

Most seedlings like it comfy — temperatures in the 60s and room to grow. If they are too crowded, or if that furnace is overheating them, they will become stretched and spindly. Perhaps they are trying to grow up quickly and get away!

Buy your seeds early while there are lots of choices, but don’t start them too early. Look on each package for the right timing, and mark your calendar.

Earlier posts on seed starting:

https://gardensnips.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/seed-starting-2/

https://gardensnips.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/seed-starting-101/

https://gardensnips.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/light-for-indoor-seed-starting/

 

Bulb Farmers Rock!

OCMGA Master Gardener David Calle is passionate about gardens — especially historic gardens and finding a way to incorporate lessons from the past into our own gardens.

From David’s blog explaining the passion behind his blog:  “I created this blog to share my love of gardens and the stories and people behind them.  My passion for historic gardens has taken me to dozens of gardens across 5 continents.  I hope you will join me on this journey and share your comments and experiences.”

I’m crazy about his stories and one of his recent ones “Bulb Farmers Rock” really captured my fancy because, on my bucket list, is a trip to Keukenhof when the bulb fields are all in bloom.

Take a minute to enjoy David’s blog post, and subscribe so you won’t miss future blogs!

http://www.thegoodgarden.com/new-blog/tulips-garden-history-bulb-farmers

Little Scientists at Work

by OCMGA Master Gardener Shirley Martin

As part of the preparation for the upcoming planting season several Master Gardner volunteers went to some classrooms at the Appleton Bilingual School and presented a seed starting class. These children and their teachers were very interested in the project and took the instructions very seriously. They are documenting their results with words and pictures. They were so excited to see the seeds sprout in the “planters” made from old water bottles.

The bottles are cut in half and the top is inverted into the bottom. A coffee filter is stuffed into the neck of the bottle then the top of the bottle is filled with soil and seeds are planted in it. This coffee filter acts as a “water wick” to transfer water from the bottom of the bottle (reservoir) to the the planting medium. It is inexpensive and effective. It fits on most windowsills and is an ideal mini-planter.

Rhubarb Season is here

by OCMGA Master Gardener Tom Wentzel

UntitledThis is my first rhubarb harvest this year. There was one more, but I ate it. We all have bunches of recipes for using rhubarb so I won’t go there.

Chinese records from 2700 BC record its medicinal use. Marco Polo documented its use, but I’m not sure if he introduced it to Europe. A while ago, I visited Old World Wisconsin. In one of the Germany heritage houses there was a string of, what I thought, were chicken bones. It was dried rhubarb! Many of the historical uses that I have read seem to be medicinal, rather that culinary.

My first picking didn’t have that lip puckering sourness of later season harvests. The sourness is due to the pH (acidity) which is in the range of 3.1 – 3.2. For reference, fresh lemon juice has a pH of about 2. Adding sugar doesn’t “neutralize” the acidity, it simply covers it up.

Rhubarb leaves have a reputation as being toxic. This is due to the relatively high concentration of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid’s primary effects can be stomach irritation and kidney problems. Ten pounds of leaves would be required to deliver a lethal dose. Kitchen pot cleaners such as Bar Keepers Friend and ZUD use oxalic acid as the primary active ingredient.

Uses for Rhubarb leaves:

  • Use them as a mulch.
  • They can be composted in limited quantities.
  • GREAT for leaf castings
  • I have seen recipes for rhubarb leaf concoctions as insecticides and repellents. These have been anecdotal, their effectiveness has not been verified.

I will break my promise not to talk recipes. Here’s mine: Peel, then eat.