Friday, November 27, 2015

2015 Lawn Additons

This year's lawn additions didn't differ too much from last year, except that I had sufficient fertilizer on-hand to winterize correctly.

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, and I skipped the corn application.  That turned out to be a slight mistake as the summer resulted in small amounts of brown patch.  In the future, I'll make sure to use it.

The ferrous sulfate resulted in a bit of color enhancement for late in the season.  It's subtle, but my soil iron levels can always use the help.

The Vigoro Super Green has a bit more slow release nitrogen than I generally recommend, but I'm seeing a very mild winter coming.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/9/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
9/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
10/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
11/11/2015 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.50 0.0 Ferrous Sulfate Monohydrate
11/25/2015 1.33 0.00 0.19 0.19 0.0 Vigoro Super Green

Total per K ft:    5.53     1.20    0.79     1.69     60.0     600.0 active organic total  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Soybean Meal Down

I snuck some time late this afternoon and got the October application of soybean meal down.  Like last month, it was just a hair early, but if it had rained just as I finished I'd only be off schedule by seven hours.  Rain isn't expected until late tonight or tomorrow.

This application should become available around October 20th, depending on the weather, and will gently feed the lawn through the remainder of the season.

This is the last organic feeding of the year.  The only remaining application will be winterization, which will generally be around Thanksgiving.  At some point after that, I'll post the complete list of 2015 lawn applications.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kelp, Humic Acid, Prodiamine Down!

I also put down the soil conditioner, but that wouldn't fit easily in the headline!

As of today, I've applied the remaining dose of Prodiamine, 0.33 tablespoons per thousand square feet, to bring myself up close to 1.5 tablespoons per thousand this year.  The old April-applied shield is calculated to drop in early October, so this will carry me through late November.  Post that, sprouting weeds aren't generally of much concern, if any.

We're expecting modest amounts of rain in the next three days, so this won't need to be watered in.

Since I was already hauling out the hose-end sprayer, I also applied a little over 3 ounces each of kelp extract, humic (and fulvic) acid, and soil conditioner (6% sodium lauryl sulfate in water).

The kelp is supposed to gently encourage root growth, supply trace minerals, and supply tiny amounts of micronutrients and macronutrients.  In practice, it does seem to improve the lawn a bit, and the gardens moderately.

Humic acid is supposedly a good feed for the soil fungi, adds a tiny touch of organic matter, and will raise the soil's exchange capacity just the tiniest hair.  In practice, I can't say I see much effect one way or the other, but I have plenty on-hand so I use it.

The soil conditioner is sodium lauryl sulfate (6%) diluted in water.  Use of a few ounces per thousand square feet really does soften the soil and increase water infiltration.  I've conditioned the soil so well and added so much organic material that one or two applications per year are all that's required, but I do use more in the gardens to function as a surfactant for the kelp and anything else I need to have stick to the leaves.

Applications of all three (kelp, humic acid, and soil conditioner) can theoretically be done up to monthly at 2 to 4 ounces per thousand square feet.  My kelp and soil conditioner usage in the garden generally exceeds that, but with watering well, buildup is extremely unlikely to occur.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breaking The One Third Rule

The One Third Rule:  Always mow your lawn before it's half again the normal mow height--so that you never mow off more than one third of the blade.

The mower is currently out on the north face, mowing away, and blatantly breaking the one third rule.  This time, it's more like the one half rule or even a touch more.  The grass is pushing six inches easily.

However, we're now on Day 12 without any appreciable rain (Day 9 with no rain at all), and temperatures holding in the mid seventies to mid eighties.  Mowing under those conditions would have invited a burn.

I've spent the last three evenings watering, so the ground is now moist and more normal rainfall is expected next week and the week following.

In this instance, I don't expect any serious side effects, although the grass' growth will slow temporarily while it recovers from the shock.  In late September, in tolerable weather, and on freshly irrigated soil, the shock should be minimal.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Garden Additions

It's very early for me to be posting this, but I've finished with all garden additions for the year that will be recorded on the chart.  There's still a modest amount of calcitic lime to be applied in October when the plants are removed, but that won't supply any of the major nutrients and won't be placed on the chart.

The corn meal in late August was to fight alternaria blight, and it worked very well.  Although I lost wide swatches of zinnia, I had plenty of surviving volunteers to replant the open areas.  Those new zinnia are now starting to blossom.

Overall, levels of organic feeding rose this year, not quite doubling last year's totals.  I find that the garden does better when fed a bit more heavily.

N, P, K, iron, and organics are the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and organic mass per thousand square feet, in pounds.  The notes indicate what was used, except for the total line, where it tells you the total organic poundage used through the garden that year.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/5/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
6/3/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
7/1/2015 2.22 0.66 0.25 1.08 39.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/26/2015 0.10 0.04 0.02 0.00 6.0 Corn Meal

Total per K ft:    6.28    1.60    1.02    2.16    110.0    220.0 active organic total  

Monday, August 31, 2015

September Soybean Meal

I had time today, so I already dropped the September soybean meal at 15 pounds per thousand square feet.  Sure, it's a hair early, but even if it rained right now I'd only have jumped the gun by a bit over 12 hours.

It doesn't look as though this will water in until later this week.

The August feeding darkened the lawn noticeably, but the lack of rain has taken a slight toll.  I need to take photos of the lawn.  All things considered, it looks pretty good.

After this, there's one more organic feeding on October 1st or so, followed by a synthetic feeding for winterization when the grass ceases growth but is still green.  That's usually around Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Few Good Questions

Dear Reader questions recently include:

How long does Milorganite take to work?  --I've answered this before, but it bears repeating.  It's about three weeks to full effect, assuming decent rainfall and tolerably good soil.  Milorganite does contain some fast nitrogen, so you may certainly notice some impact on your lawn or gardens much faster than that.

However, Milorganite does not generally work quickly, and several applications may be necessary to build the biology and protein levels to a point where sustained, good effects are apparent.

Can you combine Milorganite and blood meal?  --Yes, but be a bit careful.  Milorganite has 40% or so fast nitrogen, which can burn plants when combined with blood meal's very high and very strong levels of fast nitrogen.  I'd probably separate applications of the two, or use the blood meal at very low levels.

What's the comparison of lime vs. Milorganite?  --There's actually no comparison.  Lime is either dolomitic (magnesium plus calcium) or calcitic (calcium only with very little or no magnesium).  Lime raises calcium (and magnesium in the case of dolomite) levels in the soil, usually raising the pH of the soil.

Milorganite is a feeding, although it does contain about 1% calcium as well.  Overall, any pH change of the soil should be minimal to slightly acidic, and it won't appreciably raise calcium levels at normal usage.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Soybean Meal Down

The first "fall" (really, late summer) feeding is down on the lawn--15 pounds per thousand square feet of soybean meal.  I actually did it last week, I just neglected to blog about it.

It takes about three weeks to decay in, so it should be available to the lawn around August 21st or so, given normal rainfall.  At the moment, the soil is somewhat dry, so decay won't be quite that speedy.

The next feeding will be around September 1st, and the last organic feeding for the year on October 1st.  Post that, I'll winterize with a high nitrogen synthetic when the grass stops growing, which will be around Thanksgiving.  However, that date varies very widely depending on the year.

Happy Solar Fall!

Actually, it began on August 5th, but I neglected to blog about it.

Solar fall is the twelve weeks a year of greatest downward change in day lengths.  So for the Northern Hemisphere, it began August 5th and continues through November 5th when we start solar winter (the period of lowest light for 12 weeks).

It's not that the gardens and lawn aren't still in summer mode--they are--it's just that the highest light period for the year has ended.  With proper care, gardens look great into October in this area, and lawns can flourish ten to twelve months a year.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Early August Photos

Traditionally, this is the worst time of year for lawns, but gardens are generally doing well.  This year, rainfall has been common and heavy enough (more than heavy enough) that the lawn is also doing very well.  There are, however, a few minor brown patch infections in it, currently being held at bay but not improving.  I may end up having to treat those with a fungicide, little though I like to do that.

First, the standard lawn shot.  As always, click to embiggen.  Color is characteristically not as dark this time of year as the sun is very high and bright, and that's holding true so far.
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The comparison shot has attained some popularity.  Although not as green as May or September, it's still doing better than most other lawns.  The darker area is in the shade of a pear tree.
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The gardens are doing fantastically well this year, to the point that plants are competing with each other.  Some have had to be removed as they were choked out by others, but there really aren't too many holes.
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Here's another face of the back garden.  The Color Spectacle dahlia isn't in bloom yet as the entire plant broke in an early July thunderstorm, but should be along shortly.
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The Blue Boy dahlia didn't break completely.  So although smaller than average right now, they're starting to bloom.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Late June Photos

These aren't the official July Fourth photos just yet, when I traditionally photograph the end of the early season flower and lawn development.  These are just extras for fun, and due to the fact that we've had so few days without rain that I'll snag any excuse to slip outside for a bit into the sun.

As always, click on any photo to embiggen it.

The first shot, as always, is the traditional lawn photograph.  Again this time, I took it before mowing the north face but after mowing the back.  You can see that the lack of sunlight is taking its toll on the grass quality a bit, although the back has already improved since yesterday.  Quality is tolerable, color is only OK due to the iron binding in the wet soil.
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The general garden shot.  The gardens are doing fairly well, but would bloom more heavily in more sunlight.
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Another face of the garden.  This one features plenty of dahlia and celosia.  I probably won't be growing the celosia again next year as development is not impressive until very late.
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The red Figaro dahlia are doing very well and will be making an encore appearance next year.  This is a closeup of some of the blossoms on one single plant.  A quick count shows 16 fresh blooms on this one plant, with dozens of developing buds.
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Harlequin dahlia are something I use as an accent.  They don't bloom nearly as copiously, but the color contrast is more than enough to make this an impressive plant in the garden.  This plant isn't in as good a location and only features two or three blooms at once.  Other Harlequin in better conditions will have a dozen simultaneous blossoms.
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Here's a Fireworks dahlia.  While an impressively copious bloomer, the blossoms themselves have too little impact from a distance.  Unfortunately, these probably won't make the cut for next year.
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The large dahlia are just beginning to bloom, with the first buds developing now.  Blossom on this Sun Lady dahlia will be this week.  These larger dahlia are more of a late-season flower, featuring two dozen blooms per bush from July through October.  Flower sizes range from 4" (the Sun Lady and Blue Boy) to 8" (the Color Spectacle).  I tend to avoid larger flowering dahlia as they require staking.
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I have some baby swifts this year in a nest over the front door.  While annoying--and dirty--I didn't catch the nest until the eggs were already in it, at which point I wouldn't dream of removing them.  Once the babies are out of the nest, I'll remove it.  Look closely here and you'll see four young swifts, getting large enough that they'll fly soon!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pouring Rain

Two weeks ago, we were just beginning to exit a month long drought.  Now, we've caught up. Although the official numbers show that we've received all of June's normal rainfall already (and a bit more), the numbers on my deck are somewhat more inflated due to the very local nature of the thunderstorms that have hit.

We received nearly four inches of rain yesterday evening alone, plus another quarter inch today, on top of the heavy rainfall we've received for the last two weeks.  It finally cleared out, but more rain is projected for Thursday and again this weekend as the remnants of tropical storm Bill come through.

Soils are sodden, but that won't be a problem over the short term.  There's really no way to do anything about this, so when it happens the only choice is to ride it out and wait for drier weather.

On the up side, plant growth in the gardens has been incredibly fast, and the grass has fully recovered from the shock it received from a very dry May.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Early June Photos

I've been rather remiss in showing off photos of the lawn and gardens.  For the most part, the lawn has been nothing spectacular this year.  The gardens have been fairly impressive.

The first image is the standard lawn shot, taken intentionally just as I'd finished the back zone mowing but not yet done the north face.  Where it's grown in, the color and quality are excellent.  Post-cutting, the limited damage from the month-long dry spell we had shows.  This damage is reversing slowly as June so far features a large amount of rain.

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The general north face garden photo also shows the grass in both zones.  However, at least the generally hot weather has moved the gardens along much faster this year, with plant sizes more like July 4th than June 10th.

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The larger dahlia are fairly well-developed, although two of these have been nibbled at by the rabbits.  The Tabasco sauce spray has stopped that and they're growing in nicely now.  And yes, I need to add mulch here!

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The smaller Figaro red dahlia are doing well so far!

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The red zinnia always do well, although they usually haven't divided stems this yearly.  This year, they have.

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And the ageratum.  Most people report having some trouble with these.  My only problem is keeping them constrained into their designed areas every year.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Feeding The Gardens...Again

The rain let up after two days (no complaints, we needed it desperately) and I fed the gardens this evening.  It's a few days late, but I had delayed until after the rainfall as I wasn't sure if we would get minor flooding.

This month, just like last month, the application was 9 pounds of Milorganite and 12.5 pounds of soybean meal per thousand square feet, for a total of 21.5 pounds of organics and around 1.3 pounds of nitrogen.

That's a high level of feeding, but the gardens are fairly tightly packed and I demand almost constant blossoms.

Applying Milorganite Every 30 Days

Or, can you apply Milorganite Monthly?

This is another Dear Reader question from my search results.

And yes, you can apply Milorganite every month to your lawn and gardens if you want to.  Personally, I'd recommend skipping July on northern lawns as the grass isn't interested in feeding that month, and any very cold month is also best skipped as the Milorganite can't decay.  Use in July in the gardens is fine, however, and I do this every year.

When It Rains...

In this case, it didn't pour, it kind of deluged.  We've received nearly three inches of rain in the last forty eight hours.

Sections of lawn I thought were dormant turned out to be badly shocked and are rapidly recovering.  At the moment, there's perhaps fifty square feet that will require consistent rainfall to fully recover while the rest will be back by the end of the week.  The forecast for the next ten days includes very consistent and rather heavy rainfall, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Rainfall contains an average of around 3 parts per million of nitrogen, which sounds like absolutely nothing until you begin calculating the weights.  Each inch of rainfall, per square foot, is approximately 0.6 gallons, or 600 gallons per thousand square feet.  Water weighs 8.8 pounds per gallon, for 5,280 pounds per thousand square feet.  At 3 parts per million, that's 0.016 pounds of nitrogen per inch of rain.  In our case, with 2.8" of rain (and a little more, but close enough), we also received 0.045 pounds of nitrogen total.

While hardly extreme, that also helps the grass to gently, slowly recover.

The gardens have also responded to the wetter weather by growing extremely fast.  Unfortunately, the weeds also responded by sprouting at incredible speed, so I'll be weeding those out shortly.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dahlia Getting Eaten

Again this year, the rabbits seem to be rather hungry.  Fortunately, I'm having far less of a problem with them than I did in 2014.

This year, the favored snack seems to be my Blue Boy dahlia.  Which is a bit odd as rabbits aren't supposed to care for dahlia when there are other, more preferable plants around.  But there it is.  They're even ignoring the Sun Lady dahlia between the three that are being eaten, and the Color Spectacle not far away.

I sprayed with 1 tsp Tabasco sauce in water (plus a few drops of soap and Elmer's glue), plus sprinkled a tiny amount of dried blood around the plants as a temporary scent deterrent.  That should take care of the problem, but if not I'll step up the amount of Tabasco sauce used in the solution until the rabbits go away.

How Long for Milorganite To Work?

Yet another Dear Reader question from my search results.  I can't remember if I covered this before, but it bears repeating anyway.

Milorganite has some water-soluble nitrogen, and definitely has a lot of water-soluble iron, so you might notice some change in 72 to 96 hours after irrigation or rainfall.

However, the organic nitrogen and biological effects won't be seen for at least three weeks.  Even then, they're not the sudden green-up of synthetic fertilizers.  Slowly, over time and with continued use, the lawn will continue to look better.

Organics are not a fast cure, which is actually good.  We don't want them to be.  Fast cures tend to also peter out quickly, whereas the organic fertilizers you're using will be slowly improving your lawn and gardens for years to come.

Can Milorganite Be Overapplied?

Here's a Dear Reader question that showed up in my search results, probably not coincidentally with the question being asked on a forum where I post.

And yes, Milorganite can certainly be overapplied.  Milo contains a maximum of 40% water-soluble nitrogen of the nitrogen in the product, or a grand total of a maximum of 2% of the product weight in total.  As such, fifty pounds per thousand square feet would be the absolute maximum application rate allowable under most circumstances, and I wouldn't go that high for other reasons.

A localized spill of Milorganite will definitely exceed the fifty pound per thousand square foot rate.

If this should happen to you, scoop up what you can.  Then rake the rest as widely as possible, then follow up by scratching into the grass with your fingers, spreading the spill as far as you can.

Post that, if you can irrigate with at least an inch of water in that area, it will help to dilute and disperse the free nitrogen into the soil.

If a burned area results, treat it as you would any other burn.  Water well, and reseed that area in late summer if required.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Still No Rain

We're officially at 0.22" at the local airport for the month of May so far (4.10" being far more normal).  On my back deck, the recorded amount is 0.18".

The gardens are holding because I'm watering them, and they're actually flourishing in the heat and sun.  At this point, they're as far along as they would be by the middle of June, although I had a highly unusual loss of six plants (out of 650) this year.

The grass is blasting and dropping toward dormancy, with about 150 square feet nearly dormant at this point and the rest highly stressed.

On the up side, we're forecast for nearly an inch of rain over the weekend.  Now to see if we get it.

What can you do if this happens to you?  Not much, except water.  In my case, it's simply pointless to try to hold the lawn, so I let it slide.  The gardens, of course, will be maintained through the season.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feeding Your Gardens

It's the end of May, and most of the garden is in bloom at this point, although the dahlia are a little later than other plants.  Every year, people ask me what I do.  Really, it's easy.

Weekly:  I apply a half rate feed of Miracle Gro to the gardens.  In my case, this is easy as I have a watering system with an EZ-Flo fertigation system attached.  The recommended application is 1 packet of Miracle Gro per 500 square feet, I apply it over 1,000.

Monthly:  I apply either 1 bag (36 pounds) of Milorganite or 1 bag (50 pounds) of soybean meal across the garden, or 18 pounds per thousand square feet of Milorganite or 25 pounds per thousand soybean meal.  This begins to feed the plants two to three weeks after application, and continues to feed gently for several months.

I tend to discontinue the monthly organics as of August as that feeding will continue to work through early October.  The weekly Miracle Gro is discontinued in mid September.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Almost a Frost

I'm not certain what happened, but the local weather stations and weather service were reporting lows of 45 to 50 degrees.  Temperatures in my garden plunged to 36.

Fortunately, I was still awake at the time and immediately watered the surrounding grass. Temperatures rebounded to 38, falling back toward 36 just before sunrise.

Once again, there doesn't seem to be any damage, and that was the last night that temperatures have any possibility of falling that low.  Still, it proves that it's always wise to keep an eye out.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Four Weeks, Little Rain

We did receive about 0.05" of rain yesterday as a cold front blew through, but that brings our total over the last thirty days to 0.09" of rain in total.

I can easily hold the gardens, but the lawn becomes a major problem as temperatures rise into the nineties and stay there for a week.  So I've made an executive decision.

The lawn is going to be allowed to go dormant for the first time in nine years.  If rainfall resumes normally, I'll also resume irrigation, but that doesn't seem likely.

As I mentioned below, Kentucky bluegrass has no major issues with this.  It'll go dormant and spring back when rains resume, requiring only about 1/4" of rainfall or irrigation every two weeks to keep the roots alive.

For those with fescue or rye lawns, the dormancy mechanism isn't quite so good and the grass will die in a few months.  However, 1/2" of rain or irrigation per week will be sufficient to keep it alive, if not particularly attractive.

We Got Away With It...Cold

And cold it was.  I recorded a low of 39° in the gardens this morning just before sunrise.  The official low at the more heavily built-up airport was 41°.  Since I normally show a five to six degree difference, the excess watering helped enhance my temperatures by three degrees.

Initial evaluation shows absolutely no damage in the gardens, although I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the most sensitive plants showed minor burns by the end of today.

Tonight's low is estimated to be around 45°, which is still quite cold, but would give me a minimum temperature of 39° in and of itself.  Just to be sure, I'll lay down a light protective layer of water to guard against lower than projected temperatures.

We're projected to be hitting highs in the low 90's by Monday, so this unusual late-season shot of cold air looks like the last issue I'll have for a while.  Next up?  Guarding against slugs.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Very Late Frost...Maybe

Our weather is wobbling all over the place this spring (except without any rain), with potentially freezing temperatures tonight and 90 and humid by Memorial Day.  Tonight's potential frost is what concerns me, as the plants are well-prepared for 90 degree weather and won't mind it a bit.

You can keep off a light frost by irrigating the gardens before or at sunset, deeply watering.  Moist soil holds much more heat than cold soil, and brings warmth up from the lower levels very, very well.  Studies show a 5° F difference in surface air temperatures even at 6 AM the following morning when the sun is already rising.

I also run the grass' irrigation system around sunset, and it's currently running now.  Twenty to thirty minutes will dampen the soil and deposit plenty of moisture on the grass blades, which can slowly evaporate (and carry off heat from the grass) all night long.  I'll probably touch it up around or just after midnight to make certain that the air over the grass is moist and warmer.

That doesn't benefit the grass, which won't be harmed by frost, but helps in the adjacent gardens.  Like carbon dioxide, water is a greenhouse gas--but a very strong greenhouse gas.  Infrared radiation trying to escape the soil into space has a better chance of being captured by moist air than by dry air.

The generally more humid air will hold and reflect back more heat.  Additionally, if temperatures drop below the local saturation point, water will condense back on the lawn and plants, releasing copious amounts of heat as it does so.  Essentially, I'm creating a light fog and using it to my advantage.

Here, the goal is to keep the dew point well above 32 degrees, as well as to attempt to keep the air temperature far enough over 32 that frost isn't possible.

I'd estimate I have a 95% chance of making it through tonight with minimal to no damage, and a 5% chance that the lowest-lying plants in the garden will be damaged but not killed.  I can recover damage if I have to, but I'd rather not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Poor Dahlia Tuber Survival

I planted the dahlia tubers some time ago and noted that the survival of the more common strains was very poor while others was excellent.  I've noted these below.

Blue Boy:  Zero survival rate, although the fact that I was working from one tuber that survived the mole invasion last year probably had something to do with that.  I replaced these this year as they're incredible plants and treating them as annuals doesn't bother me if that's what I have to do.

Color Spectacle:  I bought these at Home Depot, and they survived very well.  Some of the splits were given away, one found a new home in a huge pot on the patio.

Sky Angel:  A Home Depot closeout buy some years ago, these tubers perform extremely well.  Every year I split and give the daughters away.

Sun Lady:  Zero survival rate, and the tubers were rich and large last fall.  I replaced these as well since the plants are gorgeous and if they have to be treated as annuals I'm willing to do that.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Milorganite on Arborvitae

Another Dear Reader question, in a quieter season for such things.  I get these from my search results, plus questions people ask me, the rare comment on the blog, or e-mails I receive with questions.

Question:  Is Milorganite good for Arborvitae?

Answer:  The simple answer is just "Yes."  Use at bag rate is very good for almost every shrub, plant, or tree I can name.

The more complex answer is that, while it depends a bit, we need to explore further.  "Arborvitae" is a general term for many species, all of which play well with Milorganite and will enjoy both the iron and the nitrogen.  In my case, I have Thuja Green Giant (Thuja standishii x plicata), and they flourish on any organic fertilizer.  Or synthetic for that matter.

Growth rates in good conditions will increase markedly if they're fed, so that may be a consideration if you wish to keep your shrubs at a given height.  In my case, they're encouraged to grow as tall as they wish, and they're currently six years old and approaching fifteen feet tall (after starting at a bit under two feet).

Milorganite is unlikely to overfeed the shrub, but be careful that the root mass is keeping up with the greenery.  During Hurricane Sandy, a few of my Thuja tilted a bit and had to be pulled back into place and tethered.

3 1/2 Weeks, No Rain

Today marks three and a half weeks with no appreciable rain--which I define as rain that actually moistens the soil further down than the surface.  Not to mention the well above-average temperatures and generally windy conditions on top of it.

The gardens are in, and those are bolstered with Terra Sorb in the hole with each plant.  Watering weekly is entirely sufficient in this case, although very young plants do need more moisture.  I've been watering twice a week for two weeks now as the plants were in at the beginning of May.  Just a pinch of Terra Sorb (Medium granule size) in the hole under the plant helps hold enough water for the plant to go several extra days.

The grass is another story.  I've irrigated twice, but it still doesn't look very good and I'm not going to step up the watering level.  If this weather continues, I'll keep the lawn up through Memorial Day and then let it go dormant.  Kentucky bluegrass has an amazing ability to tolerate terribly dry and hot summers by staying asleep, requiring only about a quarter inch of rain or irrigation every two weeks to keep the root systems alive.

This is not an option on fescue or rye lawns, which have weak dormancy mechanisms.  Fortunately, neither require the water that bluegrass does, and half an inch of water or irrigation per week will be sufficient to keep them alive.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Milk and So On

Extended evening hours and warmer weather certainly are nice!

I applied 8 oz per thousand square feet of whole milk, plus 3 oz per thousand kelp, 3 oz per thousand humic acid, and 3 oz per thousand sodium laureth sufate solution.  Those can sit until the next rainfall, which will probably be Friday.

Milk seems to have an odd effect in the lawn, gently enhancing performance on soils that are already resource-tuned and organic.  I'm not certain that it would do much of anything on a poorer soil, however, so this isn't a step I generally recommend.

Kelp contains minor amounts of growth hormones, useful in developing spring root systems.  It also contains just about every element possible, so any temporary shortfalls can be supplied via foliar input.  The amount of organic matter is minor, but I'll take it.

Humic acid encourages fungal development and may help a bit with water retention.  Since the latter isn't an issue in my soil, it's not a real consideration.

Sodium laureth sulfate flocculates (gathers together) soils, making them softer and allowing water and air to penetrate more easily.  Of all the things I used today, this is the one with the greatest impact.  Rather than purchase SLES online (which you can do), it's just as easy to use 3 ounces per thousand square feet of Suave or White Rain shampoo, or the generic baby shampoo off the shelf.

Application of shampoo can be made monthly until the soil loosens up, and should be combined with organic feeding and a soil test and resource balancing.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Everything's Late

Post the rather severe winter we just had, plus a rather cool and wet early spring, everything in the gardens is delayed.  So is the lawn, which is back but not growing yet this year and still a touch patchy with dormancy.

The next week or so should change that as temperatures rise to a bit above normal.  It's far too early to estimate when the 850 sprouting plants in the cellar will go out to harden off in the north garden, but if the weather is average it should be around May first.

So far, the comment's been made, "It's too bad you can't grow crocus around here."  You can see that fact below, and I think this particular patch started as three or four bulbs several years ago.

As always, click on any image to embiggen it.

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This is the first year in several years that the Siberian iris did well.  And when they do well, they do very, very well.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

And We're Off

Actually, we were off the evening of February 13th, but first sprout is today.

I started the cleome, Easter eggplant, and celosia.  I've found the celosia benefit from a very early sprout and tend to bloom far sooner if they get it instead of waiting for March.

At this rate, by Thursday or so they'll be moving down under the lights and the second batch will be starting.  That will be the red and blue salvia.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Countdown Begins

Sure, we're only ten minutes over the line into February.  Close enough.  Solar spring (the time of fastest daylight change upward in the Northern Hemisphere) starts on Thursday.

The first of my plants, the cleome and the Easter eggplant, start around Valentine's Day.  They've been cold stratifying in the garage since Thanksgiving.  That's far more time than they require, but a little extra never hurts.

Plants such as lisianthus should either start immediately...or you're already late.  Those tend to do best started very early, but fortunately anybody growing those already knows that.  I tried one year and they were difficult enough that I vowed never again.

Everything else except the cleome and Easter eggplant waits until late in February at the earliest. This year, I plan on starting the celosia much earlier as I've found they benefit from a longer season. Those will probably be in the late February batch.