Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bargain Plant Buying Tips

I’ve been talking about shopping for bargain plants on the clearance shelf at garden centers so I thought I’d come up with some buying tips. Once the spring and summer buying rush is over you can find plans discounted 25-75%. I’ve picked up several perennials for $1 and even free in late summer this year.

· Save gas by calling garden centers first to see if sales have started.
· Check the small multi-plant bedding containers to make sure there is a live plant in each cell.
· Choose young plants that haven’t flowered yet and pick a bushier plant over a spindly one.
· Examine roots by sliding the plant carefully out of its pot; buy plants with plenty of white, healthy roots but not one so crowded that it is pot bound.
· Inspect leaves and roots for insects or diseases that will weaken plants or spread them to your other garden plants.
· Buy several of the same color and type of plant so you have enough to fill in pots and beds.
· Before planting at home prune blooming annuals 1/3 to ½ to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.
· Massage the root ball when removing a plant from its pot to release any tangled roots.
· Plant purchase as soon as possible, watering well.
· Group your new plants according to sun or shade requirement.
· Fertilize annuals following package direction, using a high–phosphorous product such as 5-10-10. (the middle number indicates phosphorous)

Many bargain plants look scruffy but with careful buying practices and some TLC they can soon be providing some color to your garden. Perennials may not produce until the following summer but at the bargain price it is worth the wait and fall is a great time to get these plants started in the garden giving them plenty of time to develop new roots and growth for next summer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Color in my fall garden

Starting in late August I begin to shop the clearance rack in the garden centers. This year I have picked up at ½ price, $1 or even free plants mostly perennials for my garden. While shopping for seeds at Lowe’s yesterday I found a Rabbit eye Blueberry bush at ½ price to replace one of my bushes that died this summer. I already rescued Black and Blue Salvia, May night Salvia, Veronica, Gerbera Daisies, a Butterfly bush and Verbena and they are happily planted in my garden and flowering! I bring them home, add some compost and a bit of fertilizer to the planting bed, loosen the roots (if they are pot bound), then plant then and water well. I keep them watered during dry times and when I’m lucky they will bloom in the fall. If not they are well established to bloom next summer.

For more fall color this summer I took cutting from assorted Coleus when Cypress Gardens was pinching back their plants and started them at home. When it started to cool off a bit I put them out in the yard and now with Celosias coming up from last years seeds I have a nice amount of new color in my yard to go with the plants that are still blooming and the trees and shrubs that are beginning to show fall color in their leaves.

I’ve also used the cooler weather start my fall vegetables and herbs, clean out dead and dying annuals from the planting beds and to try and control the weeds. Soon I will be putting down a pre-emergent in hope of controlling winter weeds in the lawn.

Overall this is a good time of year to just enjoy your garden

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spotted Spurge

I’ve been battling an invasion of spotted spurge from a neighboring yard all summer. It started with just a small patch near our property line and another next to the street 2 years ago and I was able to control but this summer it went crazy! Must have loved our hot dry summer! If you have a similar problem with this weed here are some suggestions. Whatever you try you will probably have to retreat many times if you do not get to this weed early.

Spotted spurge weed can quickly invade a lawn of garden bed become a nuisance. Using proper spotted spurge control cannot only eliminate it from your yard but can also help prevent it from growing in your yard in the first place. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of spotted spurge.

Spotted spurge is a dark green plant with red stems that grows low to the ground in a mat like fashion. It will grow outwards from the center in a rough wagon wheel shape. The leaves will be oval shaped and has a red spot in their center (which is why this spurge is called spotted spurge). The flowers on the plant will be small and pink. The entire plant has a hairy appearance.Spotted spurge has a milky white sap that will irritate the skin if it comes in contact with it.

Killing spotted spurge is relatively easy. The hard part is keeping it from coming back. The tap root of this plant is very long and its seed are very hardy. This weed can and will grow back from either root pieces or seeds.
Because of the spotted spurge weed’s mat like nature, hand pulling is a good option for removing spotted spurge from the lawn or flower beds. Be sure to wear gloves due to the irritating sap. Make sure that you pull this weed before it has a chance to develop seeds, otherwise it will spread rapidly. After you have hand pulled the spotted spurge, watch for it to start growing again from the tap root. Pull it again as soon as possible. Eventually, the tap root will use up all of its stored energy trying to regrow and will die completely.

Heavily mulching with either newspaper or wood mulch is also an effective method of spotted spurge control. Cover ground with spotted spurge with several layers of newspaper or several inches of mulch. This will prevent the spotted spurge weed seeds not to germinate and will also smother any plants that have already started growing.

You can also use herbicides, but many herbicides will only work for spotted spurge control while the plants are young. Once they reach a mature size, they can resist many forms of weed killers. When using herbicides for killing spotted spurge, it is best to use them in late spring or early summer, which is when spotted spurge will first sprout.
One of the few herbicides that will work on mature spotted spurge is Roundup. But be careful, as Roundup will kill anything it comes in contact with. Even with this, the spotted spurge may still regrow from the roots so check frequently for regrowth and treat the plant as soon as possible if you see it.

Pre-emergent sprays or granules can also be used for spotted spurge control, but these will only be effective before the seeds have sprouted.
As a last resort, you can try solarizing the area where the spotted spurge has taken root. Solarization will kill the spotted spurge and its seeds, but will also kill anything else in the soil.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Benefits of Fall Gardening

The weather is finally beginning to cool down and fall is just around the corner. Fall will be a busy time in my garden –It’s the best time for planting, bed building, path building and other big projects. Fall is like a second spring in the South.

As the overwhelming heat of summer takes a toll on gardeners like myself we also get the pleasure of being able to grow a fall garden. The weather returns to a manageable level and the onset of winter is still many months off so there is still plenty of time to grow flowers and vegetables and to plant shrubs and trees. Fall gardening can be similar to spring gardening in that plants that thrive in cooler temperatures are the best choice for the fall garden.

My fall garden planting plans for this year includes vegetables as well as flowers. Some vegetables I plan to grow in my fall garden this year are: Herbs, Tomatoes, radishes, Salad greens-Leaf lettuce, spinach, chard, peas, and peppers.

I also like to plant and transplant perenials- like Asters, Echinacea, and Veronica; bi-annuals- digitalis and hollyhocks, and sow annual plant seeds of cosmos, bachlor buttons, marigolds, larkspur, and poppies. I find Fall gardening in the Lowcountry to be very satisfying. With cooler temperatures and fewer insects, I can spend more time enjoying the garden and less time maintaining it. Fall is my favorite season to be outside even if I have to suffer sneezing and watering eyes because of Ragweed!