Category: Ken Morgan

Is your lawn ready for dethatching?

Grass clippings left on the lawn are returned to an elemental state by microorganisms in the soil and recycled as nutrients. A quarter-inch layer of clippings is good; more is not. Clippings build when overdoses of pesticides kill the soil microorganisms, and when soluble high-nitrogen fertilizers and excess watering push grass growth. Your lawn could need dethatching if it feels spongy to walk on. To test your lawn, cut a wedge-shaped plug of turf that includes dirt with the roots. If the spongy layer between the grass and the soil measures more than a half-inch, dethatch. The best time to dethatch a cool-season grass is in early fall. A convex rake with short knife-like blades in place of tines can be used to dethatch a small lawn. For a big dethatching job, a gas-powered vertical mower and power rake attachment is needed. If the thatch is thick, make two passes at right angles to each other. To avoid thatch buildup do the following: • Remove less than one inch of grass blade when you mow. Use a mulching mower to double-cut the clippings, which makes it easier for the microorganisms in the soil to break them down. • Avoid excessive dosing with pesticides that kill the soil microorganisms. • Avoid soluble high-nitrogen fertilizers and excessive watering. • Aerate every two or three years. Aeration helps avoid a big thatch...

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Beware of boxwood twig blight

Be on the alert for Boxwood Twig Blight. The fungus Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum first presents itself as leaf spot followed by rapid browning and leaf drop starting on the lower branches and moving upward in the canopy. The fungus can remain in fallen leaves, so be sure to rake up fallen twigs and throw away (do not compost). Research is still being conducted to find a solution to get rid of this fungus. Ridding the plant of diseased branches and raking up all dropped leaves is the best prevention. WEEK ONE • Place Easter Lilies in medium indirect light and keep soil lightly moist. Pinch off stamens (yellow pods) in each lily to prevent its yellow powder from discoloring flower blooms. When flowers fade, pinch below the flower and move plant into full sun. Continue to keep soil lightly moist, but begin fertilizing every other week at half-rate. In early June, plant in well-drained soil in the garden (morning sun, afternoon shade). The plant will flower in mid-June in future years. • Prune and shape up crape myrtles you wish to grow as trees before they bloom. Remove any dried flower clusters or seed pods. To encourage a canopy to form, remove the branches a third of the way up the trunk. Always remember to remove any branches rubbing across others and any growing into the center of the canopy....

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March to it, prepare yourself

March is the month of preparation, so take the time to prepare your garden for the growing season by checking soil pH and cleaning up winter debris is a perfect way start. March is the best time for pruning trees and shrubs, especially for fruit and shade trees. If you have fruiting or flowering trees, bring in a few pruned branches and place in water with flower preservative, and watch spring to begin to bloom inside as well. Week One • Deadhead fall pansies to encourage reblooming as the weather warms up. Apply Espoma’s Flower-tone at the suggested rate to encourage larger blooms. • Mist your houseplants every day or two with water at room temperature. Be sure to groom them often, removing all dead or yellowing leaves. Remember, pruning and deadheading encourages new growth. Cut back any foliage plants that are not producing new growth and repot them in new soil. Week Two • Wild onion and wild garlic are emerging, use Weed Beater Ultra to spot spray. Unlike many other weed killers, this product works in cooler temperatures. Another method would be to use Kleen-Up by Bonide and equal amounts of water in a coffee can plus one third of a teaspoon of liquid Woolite or Joy. Then paint this mixture on the plants with a sponge brush. • Rhododendrons are evergreen shrubs that require proper feeding...

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