Monday, June 29, 2009

Garden Talks June 29--Messenger, Weed Pulling, Corn Gluten and My Perennial Hibuscus

Hello again,

I have some things I want to write about but internet connectivity issues have kept me away from the Garden Log for yesterday and most of today. After a visit by Chris of Time Warner Cable we seem to be more up to speed again.

Saturday saw my second spraying of Messenger for my rose bushes, tomatoes, upright Phlox, monarda (bee balm), an old azalea that has struggled with leaf spots of various types for a couple of years, and my newly sprouted perennial hibuscus. Also, an old crabapple tree is getting regular sprayings along with some of my lilacs.

I cannot say enough about Messenger and how effective it has been for my plants. I recommend applying Messenger every three to four weeks throughout the gardening season. Click Garden Talks May 15--Messenger, Azalea, Woodchucks in the Garden for a good recent discussion about Messengerand how it can naturally strengthen your plants. Messenger is EZ to apply and is sold right here at Skillin's.

I did get a few hours in the garden on Saturday (literally my first consecutive hours of the Spring) and it seemed like miles of weeds awaited me. Thanks to the moist soil the weeds pulled easily. Do not let the weeds get ahead of you. Many of my veteran perennial plants were being dwarfed and kept from valuable light and air by the pesky intruders. Pull patiently and deliberately and then do not be afraid to take a garden hoe to scrape and turn the top inch or two from your soil.

Also as I pulled many weeds flowers opened and we know what that means! Seeds scattering across the ground. So last night after work in between rain deluges I applied some natural corn gluten (sold right here at Skillin's!) to the now open and clean ground. Corn gluten adds some nice nitrogen to the soil AND discourages weed seed from germinating. How does corn gluten discourage weeds from growing? The folks at explain it well: "Corn gluten contains peptides (protein elements) that inhibit the formation of roots in newly-germinated seeds. Products such as Concern Weed Prevention Plus do NOT kill established weeds. As a seedling without roots won't last too long, this is an excellent means of preventing new weeds from growing. For this same reason, however, corn gluten should not be used in reseeded lawns or in areas where seed germination is desired (vegetable and cottage gardens, for example). Corn gluten breaks down completely within about six months, slowly releasing nitrogen as it does, thus acting as fertilizer as well as weed control!"

Grassy weeds that leave roots in the ground even with some careful pulling also grow back pretty quickly this time of year. This is why you should keep the garden hoe handy and be ready to "scuff" (or scrape) those weeds out of the soil very quickly.

Back near the beginning of this post I mentioned that my perennial hibuscus just received a shot of Messenger from me. Well, I had about given up my perennial hibuscus for dead! The perennial hibuscus is like my teenage son; it (he) likes to sleep late; very late! For the last several years my hibuscus has flourished in a hot southeast spot. It is a real beauty with it's big "hot red" flowers and coppery colored foliage. BUT it is a later starter and despite being blanketed under several feet of snow where I drag snow off my roof the plant did not even send a shoot out of the ground until about June 10 or so. The moral of this story is DO NOT dig your late shooting plants (hibiscus, butterfly bush, spice bush, etc.) too soon! If I had not been here at Skillin's all the time I bet I would have dug that hibuscus up well before Memorial Day.

Many people are still planting vegetables...we have some good sized plants here that WILL produce in time for plenty of harvest!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
June 29, 2009

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