Category: Ken Morgan

Save this Christmas cut-tree checklist

For many of us, it’s not Christmastime until the tree is in the house with decorations and ornaments. If you fall into that category, you’re probably itching to go out and select the perfect live tree for your space, if you haven’t already worked it into you post-Thanksgiving duties. • Now is a good time to buy your cut Christmas tree. Balsam, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, and Douglas Fir trees are the best choices because they absorb water more freely, making them the safest indoor cut tree. • Before you purchase a cut tree, try to break off a small branch with your fingers. If it snaps off, consider it dead. If it does not snap off, cut off a small piece and see if it is green or white, which means the tree is still alive and a good Christmas tree. • Remember to check the water in the stand of your cut tree daily. Allowing it to dry out just one time will cause the trunk to “heal over” which means that it will stop drinking. • Consider spraying your cut or balled tree, fresh evergreen wreaths and greens with Wilt-Pruf. This will help it to retain moisture in the needles throughout the holidays and prevent premature needle drop. It can also be used outdoors to keep not just cut greens fresh, but will protect evergreen plants...

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Take steps to protect tools, products

The cold weather is setting in, but many plants still need attention to last through the winter. Even more than plants, tools and plant-care products should be stored properly to prevent damage or loss. It’s just as important to have those tools ready in the spring, too. WEEK ONE • If drought conditions continue, continue once weekly soakings of all trees and shrubs. Remember plants need 1 inch of rain weekly, especially now that they are preparing to go dormant. • For all evergreens, camellias, rhododendron, azaleas, viburnum, and even roses, consider using a product like Wilt-Pruf. This will seal in the moisture and help protect the plant from winter’s bitter drying winds, and protect the crown of newly planted shrubs when freezing and thawing cycles occur. One application will be enough for the winter season. WEEK TWO • Inventory your supply of liquid herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides and put them away for winter in a safe place. Most of these chemicals will freeze if exposed to the elements and will make the product ineffective. • Add ground limestone to shrubs that need high alkaline soil pH for next spring. Arborvitae, boxwood, privet, and yew all need a pH of 6.7 to 7.0 for optimum growth. WEEK THREE • Prune back any long canes of your rose bushes now to prevent the winter winds from whipping them about. It...

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Prepare soil to nourish wintering plants

Fall is settling in on us and that means it’s time for amending the soil for some plants to feed them into the new year and promote their next bloom. Start with poinsettias and roses then move on to the Christmas cactus and acid-loving plants. At the end of the month, check in on strawberry plants and get your leaf composter fired up. Fall is fun, but there’s still much to do in the garden. WEEK ONE • Hosta plants are going dormant now. After foliage has yellowed and browned, cut stalks to the ground. Check the pH now and adjust, it needs to be between 6.0 and 7.0, to be on target for the new growth in the spring. • To get your poinsettia to re-bloom in time for the holidays, give it 12 hours of total darkness and 12 hours of light per day. Just a few minutes of artificial light will upset the process. Continue to do this for two full months. Also, fertilize the plants every other watering. My choice is Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster. WEEK TWO • After the last roses bloom, spread bone meal over the soil and soak in. A lot of rose guides suggest pruning now; but I believe it is better to wait until March to prune back any rose. Do this before spraying dormant oil/lime sulfur spray. This will...

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Be ready to adjust for falling temps

For the first week of September for your gardening chores, remember to not prune any spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia, azalea, camellia, holly, lilac, rhododendron, Spirea, and viburnum. They are within three weeks of completing bud formation for next year’s flower bloom, be sure to check pH and provide one last feeding. Also for that first week of this month, be sure to clear away summer annual flower debris from beds, but only prune back wave petunias, snapdragons, and geraniums as they can withstand some frost and will continue to provide a beautiful flower display. Provide enough water to maintain soil moisture. Cleome, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, and some types of marigolds will self seed, just shake the ground with the dried stems. WEEK TWO • Starting this week, bag all grass clippings as you mow the lawn. When soil temperatures begin to drop to cooler than 53 degrees, the micro-organisms that break down the grass clippings become dormant, resulting in thatch. Thatch promotes lawn insects and diseases. This will also help if you intend on re-seeding your lawn, since the grass seed needs to come in contact with the soil. It will also allow the lime and fertilizers to work better. Making sure the blades are sharp on the mower will also help keep your lawn in good shape. • To help roses to harden off and mature for...

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Start your defense against stink bugs

Set up stink bug traps in your yard. These traps will lure stink bugs with an attractant that is odor-free to humans, before they enter your home or damage your vegetable or fruit gardens. A light can be purchased separately to be added to the trap for indoor use. Remember to mow your lawn high (three to four inches tall) to prevent stress and shade the roots. WEEK ONE 1. If you are considering a fall vegetable garden, now is the time to purchase cold crop vegetable seeds. Broccoli, spinach, turnips, kale, greens and cauliflower are prime crops that will harvest before frost and thrive during the cooler fall nights. 2. Prune marigold flowers at the first sign of discoloring. A major disease (called botrytis) will take out marigolds quickly if you do not keep them pruned this time of the year. Pruning them will also promote a more lush and blooming plant. WEEK TWO 1. Prune back to the ground all raspberry and blackberry canes which have just fruited. Pruning the spent canes encourages continued spur development on canes which have grown this summer meaning a better fruit yield. Also, prune out any pencil thin and dead canes to encourage more light into the plant for more vigor. Apply Espoma’s Hollytone at recommended label instructions to provide nutrients. 2. It is time to move your potted amaryllis indoors...

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