Monday, March 23, 2009

Garden Talks Week of March 23

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

*Persistence is the Key!

"Early spring, before the buds open, is a good time to control insects on trees and shrubs with dormant sprays. Apply these oil solutions to the branches to suffocate insects and their eggs. Spray as a fine mist and only on a sunny day with no wind when temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Use dormant oils on apple and pear trees to effectively control mealybugs, aphids, and mites. On ornamental plantings, use lower concentrations of oil as recommended on the package label. Some plants, such as the Colorado blue spruce, should not be sprayed as dormant oils will remove the waxy, blue protective coat on the needles. Always read the product label carefully for proper use and any precautions."

The Bonide Co. manufactures some excellent products for the important fruit tree sprayings. All Seasons Fruit Spray or the all natural Oil Lime and Sulphur spray are products to really think about for great fruit tree production!

One other Skillin's note about fruit trees: Fantastic fruit trees are here! Last Friday we received a beautiful load of terrific fruit trees--apples, pears, plums, peaches and more! They are budded and ready to be planted NOW!


"Early spring snowstorms are common, pesky and generally seen as a nuisance by most gardeners eager to get going. We get tons of calls from folks whose bulbs are starting to emerge and perennials starting to green wondering what to do when snow is predicted. Relax! Don't worry! Usually this snow is just a quick event and will not harm your plants. In fact, you might do more harm trying to cover them. If any precaution is needed, you might knock the heavier snows off trees and shrubs whose branches might crack with the weight."

Great advice; we also generally recommend that you leave any heavy snows alone because the act of knocking heavy snow may break brittle branches.

*Be Patient, Let your Garden Dry

Yes, you're eager to get into your garden but make sure the soil has adequately dried before you try to do too much. Avoid on partially frozen or wet ares because the compaction from your weight is damaging to the soil structure. If you must get out, lay down some planks to walk on. These will help distribute your weight and lessen compaction. Nothing beats a few good windy March days to dry things out!

*Soil Testing

"Avoid the rush if you want a professional soil test and get your sample to the University of Maine as soon as possible! They'll be processing hundreds of tests this spring and the back log will mean a longer waiting time for your results. We have the application forms and all the information you need to send these samples in. Of course, we sell simple soil test kits that will help you determine basic soil information like pH and basic nutrients. These kits are inexpensive and the process is FUN to do with children - a real hands on experiment with immediate results!"

A good soil test can be a valuable tool that points you and your garden in the right direction.

*Tasty Tulips and other Plants

"It's time to be vigilant and start the tulip watch! You are certainly watching for those leaves and buds to appear, but you better be watching for rodent and deer. Squirrels and mice will often dig up the bulbs and deer usually appear just before the buds are ready to open! It has been a long winter and we know there will be huge deer browsing problems on many ornamentals. We have the repellent products you need to ward off these critters. "

Liquid Fence is one of quite a few all natural products that we offer that can protect your plants against munching pesky plant predators.

*Easy to Grow Phalaenopsis Orchids

"Phalaenopsis species are epiphytes requiring warm temperatures. They grow well under relatively low light intensities and are good plants to grow under fluorescent lights. These plants must have a very coarse potting medium that drains rapidly. They do not tolerate drying and must be watered frequently.

It is not uncommon for individual flowers to remain in good condition on the plant for two to three months. A well-maintained plant may flower up to 18 consecutive months."

Phalaenopsis orchids are just terrific houseplants that will flower and flower and flower!


carolyn said...

To keep deer away from your gardens, plants and shrubs try All Season Weatherproof Deer Repellent. The repellent comes in waterproof containers so you don't have to reapply during the season - huge bonus!!

Mike Skillin, Skillin's Greenhouses said...

Carolyn, thanks for the recommendation on the All Season. I should have mentioned that product--it is a fairly new offering here at Skillin's but we brought it here to sell because we have had great reports from other gardeners as well.

Thanks again,

Mike Skillin