Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garden Talks June 24--Containers, Rhodys, Kelp Booster

(I talk about these lovely gazanias below!)

Hello again,

Here are some recent customer questions posed to us at!

Question from customer MM: "I was wondering if it is too late to start container gardening ? If not what types of plants should I choose from?"

Answer: It is NOT too late to start container gardening.

We have some good sized tomatoe plants that would fit the bill as well as cucumbers and lettuces that grow awesome in containers. I have just planted all of these in large containers in just the last couple of days.

I would definitely recommend using the Bar Harbor Blend by Coast of Maine as your potting soil. It is a top quality composted mix that works extremely well. To help catch up I would also recommend several handfuls of all natural Garden Tone by Espoma or Plant Booster Plus by Organica. These natural fertilizers will work with that top quality soil to naturally “rev up” your plants and will provide much needed calcium which results in top quality fruit.

Question from customer SB: I wonder if you could tell me what I need to do to get my Rhododendron to fill out at the bottom. They are both very leggy and no foliage at the bottom. They are over 30 years old but I don't want to get rid of them as my father planted them for me when we built the house. I have used Tree tone on them and I have tried to cut them back a lot as they are getting too tall. My Dad used to put holes around the base and fill them with fertilizer but I am not sure how much to use. Would you have any suggestions as to how I can get them to have some foliage toward the bottom branches. Also should I be pruning them now or wait.

Answer: Generally speaking now is a fine time to prune your rhododendron. Most have just flowered and as such have not formed their flower buds for next year. The key is to prune the top portions to force growth to come out along the bottom. This growth will take time. I pruned some old rhodys I have that were getting too leggy in June 2007. I gave them an aggressive pruning. They did not fill out much in 2008 but are coming along nicely on the bottom in 2009.

Holly Tone is probably the preferred fertilizer although Tree Tone is not a bad choice at all. Both are non burning so it is hard to over fertilize. I would make holes around 2 to 3” deep about 6” to 12” within the drip line of your rhody and fill each hole with the Holly Tone. It is a good technique but requires some bending over and is time consuming. Space your holes about a foot apart or so. 2 such feedings per year are optimal.

Speaking of containers, I just recently planted one of my all time favorite annuals, the Gazania (I love the bright oranges, reds, yellows and whites of the Gazoo mix, see the picture at the top of this post) into a container. I place this container in the hot blazing sun after I have filled the pot with Bar Harbor blend, Plant Booster Plus by Organica and 3 flats of gazanias. When the sun comes out (take heart it will!) my pot will be ablaze with color. Gazanias are also great to plant in the ground; anywhere where there is blazing sun!

NOW is the time to apply Kelp Booster by Organica to your lawn. Kelp is one of the best natural "additives" we can apply to our soil as most of the time our soil is starving for calcium. Kelp Booster is Step 2 of Organica's Four Step All Natural Lawn Program. Calcium is key for adding to and maintaining of our plant's vigor. Plus the Kelp Booster as all the Organica products do contain valuable microbes for the soil that our plant's roots reside in. Click for more information about this outstanding program sold right here at Skillin's!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
June 24, 2009

1 comment:

kcb said...

I agree w/Mike. It is never too late to start a container garden, at least with annuals/perennials! I often change the plants within some of the containers and window boxes as the season progresses. Containers and their plantings can be fun, whimsical, elegant even formal. A great way to add interest and color to a deck, patio, even within the garden bed itself to add height and/or a pocket of color!