Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Garden Talks 2010

The purpose of this post is to relay a few "quick hit" garden tips to you through the month of September. Some of these tips will be garden tasks I am doing myself, some of these tips will be quick pieces of advice we are giving to customers, some will be quick links to good gardening advice we encounter on the internet.

Check back to this post often as we will update it often until we roll through September 2010!

Here are our August Garden Talks 2010.

September 29--According to the official Rain Gauge of Skillin's Country, we received almost an inch of rain in the past couple of days. It was an excellent rain because of it's On Again, Off Again nature. This allows for some good soaking, a reprieve from runoff and then more good soaking. We are thankful for this deep rain and this should take care of most watering needs for the next few days!

September 28--Good friend Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited in Rockport ME just sent out some great gardening tips. One tip that caught my eye was Hammon's write up about Planting Garlic in the Fall. We sell the California Soft Neck variety here at Skillin's. Here is Hammon:

"There are hundreds of named varieties of garlic, but all of them can be categorized into two major types: soft-necked and hard-necked.

The stalk that grows up from a garlic bulb is called a “neck.”

The stalk of soft-necked garlic is pliable and soft at maturity. The stalk of hard-necked garlic is stiff at maturity.

Soft-necked garlic is strong flavored and stores well because it has several protective outer layers of papery skin.

The two most common varieties are California Early and California Late. About eighty percent of all grocery store garlic is now grown in China. These garlics have many cloves, up to 20 per bulb. The outside cloves are medium in size while the inside cloves are a pain to peel and are many times just discarded!

Softneck garlic has the classic garlic taste; ranging from mild to hot and spicy; depending upon the growing conditions. (In Eastern Europe and Asia Hardneck garlics are the standard; with the same range in taste and heat.) Some Softnecks can be eaten raw in salsa and salads; others are too strong and need to be cooked.

Hard-necked garlic is mild tasting and best used soon after harvest since it has only a few layers of papery skin and thus keeps poorly."

September 27--Gardening friend Margaret of Away to Garden writes: "DON’T PANIC IF EVERGREENS start to show some browning or yellowing of needles this month and next. The oldest, innermost needles typically shed after a few years on the tree." I am noticing that pines especially are showing some yellowing on the inside of the trees. This is not a huge concern for older trees; however, 2010 planted pines should receive good deep waterings once weekly between now and when the ground freezes. These waterings will make the pines healthier for next year and beyond. Also a light feeding of Hollytone by Espoma is not a bad idea for your evergreen trees if they have not been fed for awhile.
September 26--Two years ago it was very apparent that my once mostly sunny backyard with several small gardens had become quite shady due to many of the surrounding trees getting so tall and other trees and growth :creeping in". It was time to cut some trees and clean out some growth to let some sun in! We did that and this increased light really helped my gardening efforts in 2009 and 2010. More light is needed and so yesterday my dad, wife and I spent much time cutting and cleaning out some more shade trees and growth. IF your garden has become too shady, we can give you the names of some very reasonable professionals who can cut wayward trees, limb others out--all to let the light in!!

September 24--Fall to an avid gardener with grass and dirt stained knees and dirty hands can be difficult to adjust to. However, fall is a great time of year to actually improve your garden. One of the first steps you should take is to apply lime to your lawn and gardens. Generally at the end of the growing season the production effort leaves a garden with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0, so we advise adding lime at a rate of about 5 pound per 100 square feet to eventually raise the pH to about 6.5 to 7.0. This higher pH level will allow your plants to receive a wider range of nutrients. Generally, we should only lime our areas one time per year. Also your garden may well not need lime every year. If you have limed for 2 to 3 consecutive years pick up a simple pH tester at Skillin's. Check out that pH. If your soil registers at about 6.5 to 7.0, do not apply lime that year. The lime I recommend is Mira Cal by Jonathan Green—it is a calcium based lime that is better than most limes for at least two reasons: 1) Calcium is an excellent organic additive to your soil. It benefits your plants tremendously by helping to “keep free” the flow of beneficial nutrients to your plants roots. 2) Magnesium based lime can actually aid weeds as magnesium adds a natural soil compactor. Many of the plants we prefer don’t like growing in compact soils but unfavorable weeds like plantain, dandelions, crabgrass and ajuga don’t mind compact soils a bit!

September 17--Skillin's Country received a nice inch of rain last night. This will really help our lawns, annuals and perennials. Remember though any 2010 planted shrubs and trees could probably use a good deep watering sometime this weekend or next week. Don't let the cooling weather fool you on that! Also while any flowering containers you may have got a nice soaking last night, any containers are so full of roots they will dry quickly--particularly in breezy weather!
If you have recently re seeded some lawn area be sure to keep that area moist as well! Water, water, water!

September 9--Gardening friend Margaret of A Way to Garden has posted just an excellent article about how to "grow, harvest and enjoy a year of garlic". We do have the soft neck garlic available here at Skillin's--she writes about both soft neck and hard neck garlic. Here is the beginning of the post: " MY HOMEGROWN CROP OF GARLIC GETS ME TO ALMOST FEBRUARY, and then it’s just not what it used to be. You know how it goes—you’ve bought late-winter cloves that start to sprout and just don’t feel as firm or weigh what they did before time took its toll. I don’t have a perfect storage spot; considering that I do quite well. But this year I’m laying in a supply in the freezer, too, following safe, sane methods—no, you cannot just pack it in oil and refrigerate! My tactics for growing, harvesting and enjoying a year of garlic. Both softneck and hardneck types are welcome here, by the way—dare I ask which camp you’re in?" [Read more...]

September 8--Hey we got a little rain in some parts of Skillin's Country last night and early this morning. About a .25" in the official Skillin's Country Rain Gauge. This is not a great deal of rain but I felt okay about not doing my daily watering of some annual beds that I have in the hot sun. That .25" should serve those plants well today! I still watered my Earth Boxes and will be watering a couple of shrubs deeply that I had planned on watering. That .25" of rain won't do the shrubs too much good.

September 7--It will soon be time to bring your houseplants back inside from the outside. NOW is a great time to treat these outdoor houseplants with Systemic Houseplant Granules by Bonide. These granules are easy to apply and provide plant protection for up to 8 weeks. Bonide changed their formula a few years back and we think this product is great at nipping all kinds of harmful little critters that can spread from plant to plant. The active ingredient in the granules works systemically within the plant and is very effective when a plant or leaf biting insect comes into touch with this product in the plant's system. At this point, the soomer you apply this product the more time it has to work to clean up any insects on your plant! Got houseplant questions? Come to our Thriving Houseplants class. See details on our classes HERE!

September 5--Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club (listen to his Garden Radio Show every Sunday morning) had several great tips this morning. One great tip has to do with garden cleanup. Over the course of the next month or two as we pull any annuals or trim any perennials from our garden, a complete cleanup of leaves and branches that we cut or that are lying on the ground is important. Dead leaves and stems serve as a great "harbor" or host for insects, mildews and other diseases. Clean up the mess and put this plant matter into your composter or compost heap.

September 4--Earl has come and gone from the edges of Skillin's Country and left us very little wind damage (a great thing) and a good dosage of rain (also a great thing!). The Official Skillin's Country Rain Gauge measured about 1.25" of rain that fell from about 10 PM last night to about 6 AM this morning. This will really help our dry, dry plants. I have rolled up the hoses today (except for an early morning watering of my Earth Boxes--water those Earth Boxes!). I may do a little deep watering of some mature shrubs and perennials that were showing the effects of being quite dry before Earl. 1.25" of rain is good for them BUT no rain is forecast over the next few days and they will be stressed again soon I do believe.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
September 2010

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