Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April (Mid April) Garden Talks

Hello again,

Since my last Garden Talk post at the Garden Log, the weather has stayed mostly dry in Skillin's Country--which has afforded many gardeners great conditions to get out there and "do their thing". But the temperatures have moderated and we have had nice weather but relatively cool. That is okay as a relative sense of normal seems to be settling in amongst us. That is good I do believe!

Skillin Grown Pansies and Violas are Available and Can be Planted Now!

*Now is an excellent time to give your lawn a thorough raking. Most of my lawn has dried to the point where I can rake (my mostly shaded areas JUST lost their snow cover so I am going to wait a few days). I believe a thorough, intense raking is so valuable to a lawn. It is hard work so do small piece over a few days. But the debris and dead grass that you can pull out really helps to open up air pockets for valuable light and air circulation in your lawn. I will say it right now: if you rake well and consistently ORGANICALLY feed your lawn, you will not have thatch or even aeration issues. So that takes away the need for expensive rentals and time consuming lawn repair activities. (There! I said it and I feel much better!)

I will soon be overseeding some thin areas of my lawn with Heat and Drought grass seed by Bonide.
Heat and Drought contains 3 very hardy blends of Tall Fescue and has a rich green look. Tall Fescue roots grow very deep which means your lawn will look great with less water, show more insect and disease resistance, and endure the cold winter temperatures better.

I often overseed parts of my lawn that are getting a little thin. This is easily accomplished by scratching the soil, laying the seed down, scratching the seed in and covering the seed with compressed paper pellets such as Grass Seed Acclerator or Penn Mulch. These pellets expand and provide a nice thin cover to the seed. Water daily and you will have thick grass soon!

For a good year round lawn program click HERE for Skillin's Lawn Program!

*Go ahead and plant some pansies and violas--especially if they are Skillin Grown. We have gorgeous varieties, they have been "hardened off" and should be all set to withstand any wild Skillin Country weather. I have planted some pansies in what will be a shady area this summer once the trees leaf out. In a couple of months, I will probably replace the pansies with some impatiens to take me through the summer and well into the fall but in the meantime I am going to enjoy those pansies! Pansies also make great window box and container plants! And the flowers are edible!

Pansies are a Skillin trademark. My father Dave Skillin often tells of choosing pansies for people back in the days of World War II and just afterward. These pansies were all grown by Pa Skillin--his grandfather!

*Go ahead and plant peas, carrots, spinach, swiss chard and other cool weather crop seeds in the ground now! If you have a spot that is not sopping wet still and will get lots of sun those crops will love it now!

Click HERE for a post by Paul Parent about Direct Seeding Vegetables in the Ground. Also click HERE for another Paul Parent piece about Home Grown Lettuce!

Good gardening friend Paul Tukey brings us the following two pieces of gardening advice:

"Dig and transplant many perennials before new growth advances too far. These re-bloomers need to be divided and transplanted every few years to help keep the plantsvital. It is, however, best to wait to divide early flowering varieties such as bleeding heart, oriental poppy, columbine, heuchera, iris or pyrethrum until after bloom." So much material is "popping" through the ground; it is or will soon be a great time to identify transplanting candidates. Perennials can be divided and transplanted when growth is 3 to 4 inches high. If growth has gotten any larger, plants may benefit from cutting back by one-third to one-half.

"Fertilize your trees, shrubs and perennials. As these plants emerge from the dormant state, their need for nutrients is great. Transplant all deciduous trees except magnolias now before the new leaf buds expand." Any new transplants should be watered frequently throughout this gardening season. As far as the fertilizing goes, we offer many great choices here at Skillin's BUT here are two great suggestions: for your evergreens, now is a great time to apply Holly-Tone by Espoma (an old favorite here with a new and improved organic formulation). For deciduous material (that is plant material that sprouts out new leaves each year) we often recommend Holly-Tone's first cousin: Plant Tone, another old favorite with a new and improved organic formulation! Check out the exciting Espoma "family" of products at http://www.espoma.com/ and of course Skillin's Greenhouses!

A great technique to use for feeding established trees and shrubs is to punch holes a few inches deep in the ground around the drip line of your trees and shrubs. (These holes can be 2 to 3 feet apart). Fill each hole with Plant Tone or Holly Tone. This method gets the natural fertilizer a little closer to the roots. Apply the fertilizer at the drip line because that is where the roots of the plant are pulling most of the moisture and nutrients!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
April 10, 2012

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