Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Garden Happenings! Week of September 2

Hello again,

Well we have turned the corner around Labor Day and we are now streaming toward a wonderful fall!

September 4:

Gardening Guru Rose of Raymond checks in with this great photo and encouraging news about Fall Mums.
Rose writes: "Here are my beautiful mums that I planted at this time last year. Just thought that you might want to mention that planting your mums early can make for beautiful plants next year!"
Rose is one of the most enthusiastic gardeners I know!
Our beautiful Skillin grown (right here in Maine) mums are simply gorgeous! There is no question about that. And technically our mums are perennials but they seem to be pretty tender for this area so that is why we cannot honestly (and we are honest!) guarantee their survival for the next year.
BUT, there is a definite school of thought among wise gardeners--and Gardening Guru Rose is among the wisest-- that mums planted early in the season (August and the first week or 10 days of September) have a great chance at success. Rose believes in early plantings and she lives in weather crazed Raymond ME where it can be tropical one moment and then downright Everest like the next moment. So if Rose can grow mums in her far flung area of the world then manyof us closer to the coast ought to be able to make a crack at it.
Paul Parent of gardening radio fame (check out his web site at steadfastly maintains that if you "score" the roots of your mum plants EARLY in the season before you plant them then the roots will explode in more root growth and thus be well anchored in the soil and will much better survive and thrive for the following years. Paul tells his listeners to pick out a budded Mum at a quality garden center (think Skillin's--Paul loves Skillin's!). Then Paul tells his listeners to "score" or cut two sides of the Mum root ball and then slice an X in the bottom of the root ball. Maek sure you slice those roots and then plant the Mum into some good organic matter (I would recommend some nice compost and then a handful of Plant Booster Plus by Organica). Give your newly sliced and planted Mum at least 2 quality waterings per week until the ground freezes. When that ground gets crunchy, MULCH well around the base of the plant to help keep that root ball cold and in place for the winter.
Will this work? Well, we cannot guarantee it--but Rose of Raymond and Paul Parent tell you that you can get some great mums for next year. And you can see that Rose has the pictures to prove it!
It is getting dry out there. If you have not watered your planted containers or hanging plants yet, get out there and do it! With all this dry windy and rather hot weather (but oh this weather is finally nice!) your plant containers and any 2008 planted trees, shrubs and perennials will need some very good soakings.
It has been a week since I last mowed my lawn and even though I am keeping it high this year I don't think I will mow it until after we get some rain--I will just keep it long and not stress it at this point.

September 3:

Here are a couple of questions and answers from some fellow Skillin's customers that I thought were quite timely.

Customer TW has this question: "I plan to swing into the nursery this week but thought I’d check. When and what should I be putting on my lawn at this time of year? I want to use all organic material."

Our answer: "I would recommend one of two options.

Organica has a great all natural Four Step Lawn Program that I have followed this year. The first part of this month is a super time to apply Step 4 of their program, the Lawn Booster Plus that contains corn gluten. It is a great fertilizer and the corn gluten component will help suppress weed seeds from crabgrass and other weeds that cast their weed seeds into the soil for fall germination.

If you are not really concerned with weeds in your lawn then I would recommend either Turf Tone by Espoma OR Nature’s Turf by North Country Organics—both are terrific organic solutions!"

Customer JC has this question: "I have gotten some beautiful roses this sumer but ran into a few concerns.

Some of the rose buds developed a droop and I had to destroy those and on the Pope Paul roses some of the roses developed a brown edge on the blossom which took away the beauty of the roses. The Pope Paul roses are second year and the Crimson are 1st.

I read your article on pruning and I am planning to prune in late October. Should I stop fertilizing, or do I have another month for blossoms. Also am I clear that if I need to prune in the Spring I should wait till the plan leafs out?"

Our answer: The cause of the rose bud wilt is quite possibly disease related.

It is important to keep the ground area around your rose bushes clean of any dead leaves that may drop around the base of your plant and also to prune any dead or dying growth in season. Such weakened or dead growth can easily harbor any one of various diseases that roses are susceptible to.

I strongly recommend spraying your roses once monthly (April, May, June, July, August and September) with Messenger, an all natural product. Messenger which we have written about before—you can “google” our past comments about Messenger at the Skillin’s Garden Log—contains harpin proteins that once sprayed on a plant “tells” the plant to produce even more harpin proteins and it is harpin proteins that naturally fight off disease. I have sprayed Messenger consistently on many of my plants including my roses and I am very pleased with the results. My roses are SPOTLESS this year and this year has been so wet my roses would normally be really suffering!

You are doing the right thing by cutting off the wilted portions and destroying them.

In terms of pruning the rose, except for pruning dead and dying growth and flower stems that have gone by I do most of my rose pruning in the late winter or early Spring just after I have uncovered my roses. I do very little pruning in the fall. But my Spring pruning happens BEFORE the plant leafs out because that is the best time to shape your rose bush for the upcoming year. In terms of the flower stems that have gone by, I will prune not only the dead flower but the stem that supports that dead flower gets pruned right back to the main plant. Again, this pruning should happen right after the flower goes by.

Fertilizer: I recommend twice yearly granular applications of a good natural fertilizer like Rose Tone by Espoma OR Plant Booster Plus by Organica (my personal favorite). If you have fed just once with a granular application you do have time to do it again. With roses as with annuals I also recommend frequent liquid feedings with a good natural liquid fertilizer like Fish and Seaweed food by Neptune’s Harvest (another personal favorite) or a foliar spray of Flower Booster (liquid kelp) by Organica. Hey how season is short! We need to do what we can to maximize those flowers! These liquid foods are much more effective than Miracle Gro.

Yes folks Gardening is Happening in Skillin's Country, so check the Skillin's Garden Log often for frequent gardening observations and writings. We will post queries, coupons, and all the gardening news we feel is fit to print!

If you have a gardening question, ask us at or leave us a comment at the end of this post. We will respond!

Thanks for reading the Skillin's Garden Log,

Mike Skillin

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