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Archive for April 2009

Excellent Service, Thanks

April 28th, 2009

I just received my ornamental sweet potato vines from you. I’m very, very happy.  Your service was excellent, very responsive when I had emailed a question about the plants. Shipping was very fast, plants arrived in excellent condition, and were nice, big, healthy and bushy looking.  Also, your prices are great. I will definitely keep your company on my “A” list of garden companies I buy from. Thanks! Coyote

Terra-Sorb® Soil Amending

April 28th, 2009

Terra Sorb watering saving crystals will reduce how often you have to water your plantsTerra-Sorb® Medium Hydrogel is a high-quality, long-lasting acrylamide copolymer gel that absorbs up to 200 times its weight in water and slowly releases it into the root zone for use by plants.

Terra-Sorb Medium is used as horticultural soil amendment for planting, seeding, sodding, flower bed preparation and potted plants. Terra-Sorb significantly increases the water-holding capacity of soil and will repeatedly absorb and release water for several years until it biodegrades. Terra-Sorb does not contain sodium.

Directions for Use:

  • Tree and Shrub Plantings: Mix Terra-Sorb evenly with the backfill soil at a rate of 2 ounces (by weight) per inch caliper for balled & burlapped trees and shrubs, or 1 ounce (by weight) per 5 gallons for containerized trees and shrubs. Volume rates are shown in adjacent chart.
  • Flower Beds and Gardens: Terra-Sorb is mixed into the top 4 inches of soil at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet prior to planting or seeding. It can be broadcast by shaker, spreader or hand, then raked or rototilled into soil. Not recommended for topdressing already established beds.
  • Sodding, Seeding or Sprigging: Terra-Sorb is mixed into the top 2 inches of soil at a rate of 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet or 150 pounds per acre prior to seeding, sodding or sprigging. Apply by shaker, drop spreader or hand, then rake or rototill into the top 4 inches of soil. Not recommended as a top-dressing on already established turf.
  • Potting Mix Amendment for Containerized Plants and Hanging Baskets: For machine or hand mixing, add 2 pounds of Terra-Sorb per cubic yard of potting mix. Blend thoroughly throughout mix. For small batches, add 1 ounce (by weight) of Terra-Sorb to each cubic foot of growing or potting mix.
  • Compatibility: Terra-Sorb can be used on trees, shrubs and grasses, literally on all terrestrial plants. Terra-Sorb is most effective over a range of soil pH from 6 to 8. At pH extremes, its ability to absorb water is reduced.

Terra-Sorb must be mixed into soil. It is not designed for surface applications.

Terra-Sorb® Soil Amending Analysis:

Active Ingredients % by Weight Potassium Polyacrylamide/Acrylate Copolymer………………….93%

Inert Ingredients: Water* …………………………………………7%
*Water content is derived from atmospheric humidity absorbed during storage.

Container Size Terra Sorb Needed
1-gallon 1/2 ounce
3-gallon 1 ounce
5-gallon 1-1/3 ounces
7-gallon 2 ounces
10-gallon 2-1/2 ounces
15-gallon 4 ounces
20-gallon 4-1/2 ounces
35-gallon 6-1/2 ounces
Tree Caliper Terra Sorb Needed
1-inch 2-1/2 ounces
2-inch 4 ounces
3-inch 1 cup
4-inch 11 ounces
5-inch 1 pint
6-inch 21 ounces
7-inch 27 ounces
8-inch 1 quart
Box Trees Terra Sorb Needed
24-inch 1 cup
30-inch 12 ounces
36-inch 1 pint

Soil Preperation Needs

April 26th, 2009

I’m not an experienced gardener and I would like, if you would, some advice on soil prep. The garden spot I have does have decent topsoil and at least 5-6 hours of direct sun.

The question I have is that the garden’s soil ‘packs’ very hard over time (maybe due to ubiquitous Missouri clay), what should/could I mix in the soil, in the area with the peppers, to try to assure good growth and would it be ‘good’ in general for other types of pepper plants. Thank you for your time, Wilson

Growing Sweet Corn

April 18th, 2009

How to grow sweet corn plantsYou’ve heard the expression “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” Well, you also can’t tell sweet corn by its color.

That’s because the summertime favorite can be found with kernels that are white, yellow, or both. The sweetness comes from how quickly the corn converts sugars to starches. The slower the process, the sweeter the corn.

For most, corn is something that’s bought from supermarket bins or farmer’s market tables. But the truth is, it can be grown with relative ease in your backyard garden. Sweet corn is easily labeled for a clear understand of what you’re getting. There’s SU, which refers to normal sweet corn. SE, SE+ or EH, which means that the normal process of the conversion of sugar to starch has been decreased. SH2 slows that change down even further and indicates super-sweet.

Moisture is key, as is nitrogen in the soil (You’ll probably want to fertilize for a strong crop and again when the stalks are about a foot high.) As important, though, is room. You’ll be best off planting a few seeds of corn about an inch deep, a foot apart, in rows about three feet from each other. Avoid single long rows. Keep the weeds out, being careful not to damage the stalks in the process.

You’ll know they’re ready when a thumbnail puncture produces a milky discharge. But that doesn’t mean the work is done. You still have to harvest your crop, whether it’s a few ears or a few bushels.  Grab the ear, bend it downward while twisting. Watch our video on how to pick Sweet Corn.

Take advantage of the fact that the corn is coming from your home garden and plot your meals so that the ears can go right from picking to cooking. If not, you can always freeze. But, really, is that what you’ve been growing corn for?

Do you have raccoon problems around your sweet corn patch? Planting some cucumber plants between the rows when you plant the sweet corn will keep them out! Raccoons hate the vines and the cucumbers love the extra shade the corn brings.

Soil Testing 101

April 15th, 2009

4-way analyzerIf you have problems getting plants to grow and perform as they should in spite of using plenty of fertilizer and lots of tender loving care, something may be wrong with your soil’s pH. You must know the pH of your soil before you know if the plant food you’re using contains the right combination of nutrients. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money.

Now is the time to test your soil and get it ready for the spring. There are several tests that can be done on soil, but by far the most important is the one for acidity. Rain is slightly acid and gradually makes your soil more acid. This may be good for hydrangeas and rhododendrons, but it’s bad for most other plants.

Scientists measure acid in pH numbers – any number below 7 is acid and any number above 7 is alkaline. Most flowers and vegetables grow best in slightly acid soil with a pH number between 6 and 7. By the way, pH stands for potential hydrogen.

Serious gardeners can be conscientious about compost, mulch and fertilizers, and then completely neglect to check the pH of their soil. Rapitest is one of the best-known names in the soil testing market, and you can easily use one of their soil testers to determine the pH and other properties of your soil.

There are several home testing kits or instruments available to check the soil yourself. The quickest and simplest method of is to use the Rapitest Electronic Soil Tester for readings in less than one minute.

Rapitest makes a range of soil testers in every price range and for many different types of soil analysis. The kits are inexpensive and simple to use. Most kits come with chemicals necessary to perform several tests over more than one growing season and have readily available refills.

Soil checks should be done annually because conditions occur which can change the soil analysis. For example, lime is easily leached from cultivated soils. Excessive use of peat moss, pine needles or oak leaves may make the soil more acid. Too many wood ashes in the garden could make the soil too alkaline for many crops.

After having your soil tested, you may need to reduce the acid level. This is done very easily by adding lime. The amount of lime required is indicated on a chart included in the testing kit. Clay soils need more lime than sandy soils. Lime helps to break down organic matter in the soil, and for this reason lime and manure should never be applied at the same time. Organic gardeners can use lime because it’s a natural product. Lime consists of powdered rock formed from the shells of sea creatures that lived millions of years ago.

Today, when food and crops are so important, when the landscape is an important part of the market value of a home and when maintenance of plant materials becomes a costly investment, it pays to know the acid alkaline balance of your soil and to correct it if necessary.

WOLF-Garten Tools are Too Cool!

April 14th, 2009

soil crumblerConsidering how much technology has changed the way we work inside our homes, it’s a wonder that yard and garden tools haven’t changed much in a century. That is, until now.

WOLF-Garten has revolutionized outdoor tools—and the benefits are huge. These implements are interchangeable, and they’re designed to meet every landscaper’s and gardener’s needs. Here’s how they work: You choose the length and style of handles you’ll use, and then choose the attachments you need. You economize by not buying a separate handle for each tool, and you save space by not having duplicated long-handled and short-handled tools to store. It’s the efficient way to manage your tool collection.

The 14-inch short handle is perfect for working close to the soil. It’s made of lightweight aluminum with a comfortable and secure handle grip. It works with all of the interlocking attachments. Long handles come in wood and aluminum, as well as telescoping, so you have the ideal length to match every job.

The attachments securely and easily lock onto the handles. So, with a couple of handles and your chosen attachments in tow, you can work outdoors with all of your tools at your side. Your garden cart will be lighter and easier to take along as you switch from tool head to tool head, accomplishing all your tasks without having to return to the garage or shed to exchange entire tools. This system will eliminate all the duplication and wasted space taken up by your old, worn-out tools.

WOLF-Garten has designed a 32-inch-wide tool holder to hang on the wall with hooks that work with both handles and tool heads. It will declutter your storage space better than any system you’ve ever used before. This holder organizes your tools so well, and keeps everything so visible and accessible, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

The tool heads include: a wide push broom, soil cultivator, seeder, heavy-duty garden rake, soil crumbler, weeder, garden fork, lawn edge trimmer, tree lopper, fruit picker, half-moon edger, and two styles of hoes. Every tool you’ve ever needed is compacted into just the attachment to be used with the ideal handle length for each job. How smart is that?

Besides being extremely economical to use interchangeable handles, the WOLF-Garten tool system is ecological. Why have a separate handle for each tool when 2 or 3 will cover all your requirements? This WOLF-Garten Multi-Star interlocking system is comprised of parts machined for long-term use, and constructed of durable materials and weather-resistant coatings. Its ergonomic designs will take the work out of your gardening and landscaping. It’s the smart way to maintain your home’s exterior spaces.

Just like conventional yard and garden tools, you can purchase only the attachments you need, and you don’t have to choose them all at one time. You can add to your Wolf-Garten attachment collection as your needs change.

Herbalicious

April 3rd, 2009

herb plantPlanting herbs is good for your soul, as well as tempting your palate, easing your pocketbook, and beautifying your plantscapes.

Fresh herbs are the best way to guarantee your standing as an excellent cook. They add flavor, color, texture and aroma to foods; there’s rarely a dish that can’t benefit from fresh-snipped herbs. Buying cut herbs in the grocery is extremely expensive, but growing them is unbelievably inexpensive. They require little to no care and will thrive in just about any full-sun location.

They’re easy to grow, and in fact most herbs grow like weeds. Best of all, herbs make lush, attractive container plants, so whether you live in an apartment with no garden space, or a home with plenty of space but you have no desire to tend a garden, consider the delight of having an herb garden on your patio. They also have uses outside of the kitchen, like fragrance oils, medicinal salves, incense, and potpourri.

There are a few things to remember, if you plant herbs in containers. Strong-scented herb plants like cilantro or mint tend to bleed their flavors onto other plants if they’re too close together. So, it’s best to use individual pots if you’re not sure which varieties are compatible planted together. Provide a bright spot and adequate water, and your herbs will be ready to add to your culinary creations any time you want them. Bring them indoors before the first frost and keep them in a sunny windowsill for continued late-season decorative foliage and flavorful cooking uses.

Many herbs, both annuals and perennials, do exceedingly well in pots. Some varieties of rosemary can be formed into a topiary plant, and others are more sprawling and if allowed to spill over the edges of the container, are equally attractive. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried, and its piney fragrance and flavor makes it a nice complement to most meat and veggie dishes.

Both sage and thyme come in a wide range of interesting and colorful leaf shapes and colors. These herbs are popular for flavoring poultry, green vegetables and stuffing. Thyme is especially common in Mediterranean recipes. There are many varieties of both herbs, each with its own subtle flavor differences, including citrus fruit scents. Sage maintains its bold flavors when dried.

No kitchen should be without basil. Snip the leaves as you need them, and the plant will continue to flourish and produce more. Basil is indispensable in Italian foods like tomato sauces, pesto, pizza and salads. Basil is another herb with multiple varieties and colors ranging from deep green to intense purple.

Chives add a delicate onion flavor and they’re delicious raw, cooked or dried. Both curly and flat-leaf parsley are another versatile flavor and color enhancer, whether used raw or cooked into recipes. Parsley is known to add abundant nutrition in addition to a delicate “green” flavor. Marjoram has a more complex, slightly spicy and sweet, bright flavor likened to a mild oregano. And speaking of oregano, there are lots of varieties of this pungent and aromatic herb, including the popular Greek oregano, that are used fresh or dried in ethnic dishes around the globe.

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