Posts from the ‘Gardening’ Category

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! (at least not yet) from StarTribune.com


 

Metal bow rake

By deb brown • Special to the Star Tribune

Raking won’t make the snow melt. It won’t thaw the ground. Or give the temperatures a boost. What will it do? “More harm than good,” said Brian Horgan, a turf grass expert and associate professor at the University of Minnesota. While we may have come out of hibernation, our grass has not. “It’s still fragile,” said Horgan. “It can’t withstand wear and tear — and that means raking.” He expects the grass to be rake-ready by the first of May. “It kind of pops up,” he said. “You’ll be able to see it.” What can you do until then? “Go to a park,” he advised.

 I may be stating the obvious, but it’s too early to get your yard and garden ready for the growing season. Although the timing of spring chores can’t be dictated by the calendar, jumping the gun can be a waste of effort, and sometimes a waste of money. Here are some guidelines for what to do, and when:

Lawn care

Try to stay off the grass as much as possible while the soil is still moist and spongy underfoot. Because we had so much snow late this winter, we might have quite a bit of snow mold. If you see matted areas in the lawn, use a lightweight leaf rake to break them up. Usually, letting air and sunshine penetrate is all that’s necessary for grass to recover from snow mold.

If you fertilized the lawn last September, you probably won’t need to fertilize again this spring. However, if you do plan to fertilize the lawn, wait until it’s growing actively enough that you’ve had to mow it a couple times. Only then will grass plants be able to make best use of the nutrients.

If you’ve had a lot of trouble with crabgrass or other annual weeds in your lawn, you can use a product combining fertilizer with a pre-emergence herbicide in the affected areas. If you’d like to try a greener product, use one containing corn gluten meal. It prevents many annual seeds from sprouting and provides a natural source of nitrogen. It does take several years of applications to be most effective.

Pre-emergence herbicides should be applied and watered lightly into the lawn two weeks before crabgrass is expected to sprout. Typically, that means waiting until the last week of April or the first week of May. Because their effectiveness wanes over time, there is no reason to apply crabgrass preventers early. Don’t use these products if you plan to seed, unless you find one designed specifically for use with newly planted grass seed.

Gradually remove mulch

If you mulched your spring bulbs and other perennials, gradually remove the mulch as it thaws. You may choose to leave the mulch between plants, where it will keep the soil moist and help prevent annual weeds from sprouting.

Tender, hybrid tea roses are usually uncovered or lifted around mid-April most years. This year, however, you might want to wait. The canes of hyrbrid tea roses may be damaged or killed if nighttime temperatures drop into the teens.

Unwrap trees

If you used paper or plastic tree wrap to protect young trees from sunscald or animal damage, remove it immediately. The wrap holds moisture against the trunk, which can promote diseases.

If you’re concerned about rabbits and other critters gnawing on the thin bark, create a more permanent barrier. Make a cylinder of hardware cloth or chicken wire and place it around the base of your tree. Be sure to leave an inch or two of space between the cylinder and the trunk. Be sure to remove the cylinder if it begins to constrict the trunk’s growth.

Stay out of the garden

Wait until soil dries sufficiently before working in the garden. You can test for dryness by lifting some soil with a shovel, then making a small ball in your fist. If the soil is dry enough, the ball will be crumbly. If it stays together tightly, it is still too moist. Wait a few days and try again.

Prune with caution

Hold off pruning forsythia, lilacs and other shrubs that bloom in spring or early summer. If you prune now, you’ll sacrifice this year’s flowers.

A few shrubs bloom on new stems that are produced this spring, such as old-fashioned snowball hydrangeas and pink-flowering spireas, for instance. Those may be pruned in spring as they begin to grow, and they’ll still flower this summer.

Wait to prune evergreen shrubbery such as junipers, yews and arborvitae, until you see new growth. Then, you can cut them back as long as you don’t remove all the new growth. These plants will keep growing all summer; you can prune them again in early to mid-July if you want to limit their size. Wait, too, to shorten the new growth of spruce and pines.

Hire an arborist if your shade trees need pruning. It’s not a job homeowners should tackle. To avoid oak wilt disease, oaks can’t be pruned in April, May or June. And though it’s not harmful, some trees — notably maples — will drip lots of sap when they’re pruned in spring.

Keep strawberries covered

Strawberries can be killed when night temperatures fall to the mid-teens, so don’t be too eager to uncover them. When you do, keep the mulching material close by, so you can rake it over the plants if we get a cold spell.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota

Even if the snow melts, dont rake! | StarTribune.com.

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension


Here is an article from the University of Minnesota Extension about our drought conditions in Minnesota and what to do about your lawn and garden this fall.

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-625-0237, cell 651-329-2427,ced@umn.edu

ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/18/2012) —Fall is the preferred time for many important lawn care practices. From fertilization and weed control, to aeration and seeding, there is no better time for cool-season turfgrass maintenance in the Midwest. But this year is different, according to University of Minnesota Extension turfgrass educator Sam Bauer.

“The lack of precipitation in August has caused many of our Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, or fine fescue lawns to turn brown and cease growing,” said Bauer. “In order for your lawn to recover, you will need to begin irrigating regularly.” This means more than just one or two cycles, but enough water to wet the root zone sufficiently to sustain turfgrass health.

If your lawn is stressed from lack of moisture, typical fall maintenance practices that have been recommended in the past may add additional stress. “Concentrate more this fall on creating the best possible growing environment for your turfgrass, and you will reap the benefits during next year’s growing season,” said Bauer.

Here are some tips from Bauer for drought-stressed lawns:

  • Aerate after the lawn’s health has been restored. While aeration is a great fall practice, it further stresses drought-stressed turf and may actually cause the lawn quality to decline.
  • Don’t dethatch or use a vertical mower. This process tears turfgrass leaves and crowns, and should only be conducted when the lawn is healthy.
  • Don’t spray herbicides on a brown lawn. Systemic and contact herbicides used for weed control are more effective when weeds are actively growing.
  • Choose fertilizer sources with at least half of the nitrogen component present in the slow release form. High rates of quick release nitrogen fertilizers can have negative effects on drought-stressed turf. There is also a greater potential for environmental loss of nitrogen when the lawn is not actively growing.
  • Raise the mowing height and mow less frequently to encourage turfgrass recovery.
  • Maintain soil moisture to promote turfgrass recovery.
  • Spot seed and fertilize thin, weak areas with a high-quality turfgrass seed mixture.
  • Perform a soil test to determine fertilizer requirements of phosphorus and potassium.

For more information on lawn care, visit www.extension.umn.edu/turfgrass

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension.

Adventures In Gardening Vol. #4: Our First Harvest


Josey was very excited about her first harvest

Up until this point the garden has fun but has been mostly work. There has been the excitement of seeing the plants sprout and then grow but my daughter likes to cut to the chase, she wants results. About 2 weeks ago we finally got those results from our peas and beans. Now, it wasn’t a “bumper crop” but it was something tangible that she could see, touch and eat. That’s right, my daughter the picky eater ate her vegetables without sitting at the table for an hour and actually LIKED them. She even asked for more! My son was also impressed. I would have had more pea pods but he kept picking and eating them right out of the garden.  Vegetables do taste better right out of the garden, but there is also something to be said for putting in the effort to get something that makes it taste that much better.

I was thinking…  she also doesn’t like to eat meat. Maybe next year we’ll get a cow in the spring. She could help feed it and take care of it. We’ll fatten it up all summer and then together we could slaughter it  in the fall. That’ll get her to eat hamburger.

Adventures in Gardening Volume #3: Rabbits, Fencing and 94 Degrees


Peas Behind Bars

For weeks I’ve been attempting to protect my garden from attack by spraying Liquid Fence and for weeks it’s been working;  until now. It says right on the directions that you need to occasionally re-apply the stuff to ensure that it remains effective, like after a heavy rainfall. What they don’t take into consideration is the general laziness and excuse making of the user. Unfortunately for my garden, I was the user.  In the beginning I was fairly diligent about spraying the garden. But that stuff smells and I kept telling myself “I’ll do it later tonight before I go to bed”. You know how it is, one thing leads to another (watching the Twins can make a guy kinda sleepy these days) and it never got taken care of. You get a little sloppy and a bit careless and that’s when they strike. The little furry devils took them right down to the stems. It was just a few plants but I was  nor going to let that happen again.

I sprayed the garden down with more Liquid fence and decided that I needed to get a bit more drastic with my defenses. The next day at work I picked up some chicken wire and stakes in order to build my fortress wall. I should have done this from the beginning but I hated the idea of how it was going to look. After all, I didn’t want to get too crazy with building a fence without knowing for sure if anything was going to grow. Things have changed since my plants sprung-up and I’ve grown attached to my pathetic little garden.

On my day off I recruited Josey, my 3-year-old slave laborer, and we set off to fortify our garden. The day we decided to build our fence it was 95 degrees out with 70% humidity. Not exactly optimum conditions for yard work but if my 3-year-old wasn’t complaining, either was I. Sometimes it feels good to be outside breaking a sweat doing some hard work. I had Josey help me as best as she could with the fencing but it became apparent that she was getting too hot and frustrated. We took a break and got out the “Crazy Daisy”. While Josey played in the Crazy Daisy sprinkler I continued to work on the fence.

Josey playing with the Crazy Daisy

After working at a hardware store for over 18 years I’ve learned some cardinal rules to follow if you want to purchase the right item at the store. One of those rules is measure so that you know how much to buy. I did not do this… I guesstimated… I was wrong…  By about eight feet. I told Josey that I was done and asked her what she thought about our fence. She looked at it and said, “Dad, won’t rabbits still get in?”  Three year olds think they’re so smart.

Rabbits couldn’t get through, right?

For more information contact us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com and like us on Facebook

%d bloggers like this: