Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden Talks July 28--Lawn Weeds, Bed preparation; Tomato issues

I am a natural gardener as much as possible as I and so many of us here at Skillin's are very committed to Planting for the Planet. I will confess that 3 summers ago I surveyed my lawn in mid summer and was aghast at how the weeds were overtaking my lawn. An immaculate lawn is not something I desire but I feel like my lawn should be mostly healthy grass.

So I will admit that in 2006 I applied Bayer Advance All in One Weed Killer twice to my weeds and then twice again the follwing year. These weeds were intense and numerous varieties were my foe.

In both of those years I have consistently applied natural and organic lawn fertilizers to my lawn as well as Miracal by Jonathan Green to keep the natural products going into the soil and to preserve that good biology. For the fertilizers I consistently employ all natural Four Step Lawn Program by Organica (http://www.organica.net/ and sold right here at Skillin's!) and I am impressed by the Organica Four Step program.

Right now is a GREAT time to apply Step 3 of the Organica Four Step program--their Microbial Soil Conditioner.

Got lawn weeds bad? Consider the Bayer Advanced All in One Weed Killer (and use according to directions) and then follow up with Organica's Microbial Soil Conditioner. Any biological interruption that the Bayer Advanced product may bring can be pretty quickly reversed by sticking close to the Organica Four Step program and right now is the perfect time for Step 3!

Got lawn weeds medium bad? This is where I found myself last year after the sprayings of 2006 and 2007. Get a dandelion fork or a thin trowel and dig those guys up. If you just have spotty weeds an hour or two of simple digging can eradicate many of those bad weeds. Follow up with some spot grass seeding using the Black Beauty grass seed by Jonathan Green and Grass Seed Accelerator along with committing to the Organica Four Step Lawn Program and you have a much better lawn situation IN A HURRY!

At some point you should do a pH test on your lawn. The results will probably show that the pH of your soil is acidic. To bring the pH more neutral (soil with a more neutral pH better allows the soil nutrients to be used by your grass) we recommend Miracal by Jonathan Green. This product is calcium based (calcium is often quite needed by our soils). More conventional lime products contain more magnesium and magnesium compacts the soil. Grass does not like compact soil BUT lawn weeds are fine with compact soil.

Finally, move the height of your lawn mower UP. Now is not the time to cut those grass blades short. A higher lawn keeps grass roots cooler in warm weather and the lawn canopy can shade out sun loving weeds!


We don’t advocate overdosing on ibuprofen (although I might have taken one or two during the course of a strenuous day!) But the following link found initially through following "BloominKrazy"at www.twitter.com/skillins gives some good techniques for some vegetable bed preparation.
Here is the link: http://erichdoss.com/2009/07/26/no-till-gardening-and-ibuprofen/ and the name of the article is No-Till Gardening and Ibuprofen…it is never too early to think about preparing beds for later this year OR next!


Customer MG checked in with a question about her tomato plants:

Question:" I was wondering if you could help me out. The lower leaves on my tomato plants are getting brown spots and then turning yellow and falling off. I can't figure out if it is a bacteria or a mildew and what I can do to stop it. Any suggestions?"

Answer: What you are telling me is not worrying me too much. Lower leaves on tomato plants yellow frequently even in the best of years and this year has been very wet and cold so I would be surprised if the plants did not have yellow.

I recommend a couple of actions. 1) I would clip off the yellow and brown foliage. It is not needed and is only going to be responsible for more spreading of disease. This pruning will also help essential light and air circulation get to your plants 2) I would pick up some all natural Seranade Garden Fungicide (sold right here at Skillin’s). Seranade is totally organic and is handy to use against some of the various ailments that tomatoes can pick up. Tomato plants are like sickly children—they will catch whatever is in the area so Seranade will help protect them. 3) I know I wrote “ a couple” but also I would fortify your plants with a good natural fertilizer strong in calcium. Spotted tomato fruit is a common problem and these spots (like Blossom End Rot) come not from climate problems as much as calcium deficiencies in our soil. Most soil tests we see show that our garden soils are almost always deficient of calcium. To help correct this I recommend spreading a good all natural garden food like Garden Tone by Espoma or Plant Booster Plus by Organica. Or a liquid (faster) feeding of all natural Fish and Seaweed fertilizer by Neptune’s Harvest may be an even better idea. (Each of these products is available right here at Skillin’s).

Folks we love gardening questions! Drop us a line at info@skillins.com and we will get you an answer!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
July 28, 2009


Anonymous said...

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Mike Skillin, Skillin's Greenhouses said...

Margaret thanks very much for your comment and I enjoyed stopping at your web site. Worms are where it is at for great compost!