Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Garden Talks Week of March 16

Good friend Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited in Rockport ME sent out some very timely gardening tips recently and I am going to shamelessly share them with you. Plants Unlimited is a great operation and can be found on Route 1 in Rockport as well as at http://www.plants-unlimited.com/.

*Looking for Something New in the Garden?

"If you are tired of the 'same old' annuals that you've been planting year after year, why not plan a 'new look' in your garden. Today is a wonderful day to sketch out your annual beds and decide what plant's you'll need to enliven the color and perhaps even be less care. Be careful of the spacing of plants that you choose in your plan. Know the mature size of each variety because, in our experience, many people actually buy more plants then needed! A great annual gardening resource? Proven Winners!"

Check out our Annuals and Perennials class to be held on Saturday, April 11 at 9 AM and 1 PM at each of our locations! More class and contact details can be found at http://www.skillins.com/!

*Wintered Over Plants

"If you have overwintered tropical plants like bougainvillea, hibiscus or mandevilla or annuals like geraniums in your basement, take a peek at them today. Check the plants for any signs of green buds and the soil for moisture. If the soil is dry, water them lightly. Then, start to bring these plants into a warmer and sunnier location. It's time to get them sprouting for spring! If you don't have enough sunny windows, use fluorescent grow lights."

Also a good time to give many of these plants an aggressive pruning to a good shape. Such pruning encourages new growth and new growth means FLOWERS! The plants cited above are heavy feeders; give them regular doses of a good natural fertilizer like Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed blend or perhaps even better pick up some all natural plant fertilizer tablets by Organica. (All such products sold right here at Skillin's!)

*A Nice Lawn Can Be Easily and Naturally Had

"Is your lawn in need of major repair this spring? The first thing you need to do is understand your yards sunny and shady locations. There are fine grass seed mixes for dry sunny locations, dense shady spots and other blends to meet your needs. Later, we also recommend that you get a soil test to learn more about your soil."

I love the Black Beauty grass seed mix by Jonathan Green--I highly recommend as a good low maintenance grass seed. Also Organica makes some awesome lawn care products including their all natural 4 Step Lawn Program. A naturally cared for lawn means less watering and less fertilizeing over time!

*Sweet, Bountiful Grapes

"If you grow grapes, it's time to aggressively attack your vines with loppers and pruners while the vines are still dormant. You do this to keep the vines healthier, bear the best tasting fruit and keep the grape harvest within reach. Cut off at least three-quarters of last seasons growth, pruning all the way back to a handful of buds per cane. It's harsh pruning but it bears results in the fall!"

It has been explained to me that sometimes a good gardener needs to be cruel to be kind.

*Lawn Debris

"You' re itching to get outside (especially after this winter) so pick up a biodegradable leaf bag or wheel-barrow and walk through your yard once the snow has melted. Wear good gloves, carry pruners and bring a rake. Clean and prune any of last year's dead plant material and branches. Rake up any leaves and debris that you missed in the fall or that blew into your yard this winter. "

Once the lawn has dried out a little bit and you have cleaned up the heavy debris, give your lawn a good vigorous raking. Clean out those grass blades that has worn out; this will let valuable air and light into your lawn and really help new quality growth to jump start!

*Flowers Ahead of Time

"You can bring spring into your home by forcing branches of many common early blooming shrubs and trees that you probably already have growing in your yard. Cut stems from forsythia, daphne, willow, flowering quince, cornelian cherry and many other early bloomers. Split the base of each stem about an inch to increase water absorption. Arrange them in lukewarm water and keep them in a warm room. Once the buds swell, they'll last longer if moved to a cooler spot."

We have brought this point up before but the timing is STILL great to do this fun project. This is a good family project as well.


"Some clematis vines need to be pruned now - the ones that you expect to bloom on new growth this season. Pull down last year's tangled, dried-up growth, cut it away from the plant, and remove it. Finally, lop off all the stems to within a foot or so of the ground. Not all clematis are pruned this way so make sure you know the pruning for each variety."

There are few flowers more beautiful than a clematis!

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