Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
So far, nothing is going gardeners' way this growing season. Spring arrived late, with freezes continuing into mid-May, which delayed planting.
Then it was endlessly cool and rainy, giving new gardens plenty of moisture but not enough sun and heat to really flourish.
Now the deer have invaded. They've eaten every bud off my roses except for a handful on the climbers that are above their reach. The new growth on my coralbells and coneflowers has been nibbled to the nub, to the point that I'm not sure those plants are even going to survive.
I live in an area with a lot of wooded spots -- and deer. They've always been a bit of a garden menace, but it was spotty, a few plants here and there.
Not this year. Every morning, there's fresh evidence of their visits, with new buds sheared off and fewer tender leaves.
I'm guessing that the lateness of everything green has reduced the amount of new growth in the wild, forcing deer to forage more heavily in gardens.
I haven't done anything to deter them -- yet -- but I may get serious about deer deterrence if this continues. The National Gardening Association offers advice on its website (http://www.garden.org/howtos/?q=show&id=1295).
A couple preventive tips: If you're still filling in your garden, try planting things that deer don't especially like. They tend to turn up their noses at ferns, ornamental grasses, plants with fuzzy foliage, plants that taste of lemon, mint or sage, and anything with bitter or spicy foliage, according to the site.
And if you're fond of fertilizing, you might want to lay off for a while. Excess nitrogen in plant tissue makes foliage especially appetizing to deer.
What's going on in your plot? Are you seeing more deer damage than usual? What's worked for you as far as deer deterrence?
After visiting with him, I went to fill my car up with gas. The person in line in front of me had two gas tanks and a lawn mower in back. Hmm, maybe my advice to Mike wasn’t that good. With gas at $4.39 a gallon maybe he should forget about his lawn.
If you just don’t use the lawnmower does grass work like a bald man’s
This high-priced gas is supposed to last until June, by then dandelions and quack grass will move in and no one will notice. (Is that like a wig for a patchy lawn?)
So, Mike, let the Great Dane romp in the back yard. Forget about filling in those patchy spots and forget about mowing twice a week. What do you guys think? Live and let live? Go bald or go home?
If you were one of those folks who let their lawns go dormant over the heat of summer, it’s time to pull out the hoses. If you don’t provide your lawn with proper moisture now, there may be no turf grass to come back in the Spring.
Sam Bauer, Extension Turfgrass Educator for the University of MN Extension, wrote that usual Fall lawn maintenance on drought affected turfgrass may actually do more harm than good.
For example, the usual maintenance right now is to lower your mowing height to prevent snow mold. However, Sam says to keep the height up right now and mow less to help encourage grass recovery.
And fertilizer, don’t think about it. The University of MN has already informed us that the October feeding is no longer recommended. And in drought conditions, any quick release nitrogen flows right into the ecosystem because lawns aren’t growing as quickly and robustly as a ‘usual’ Fall in Minnesota.
So pull out those hoses right now. Give your trees a drink and give you lawn chance to turn green before it turns white! Will you do it?
We were strolling through the Lake Harriet Rose Garden when my husband said something that suprised me:
"Do we have any roses?"
Huh? "You just mowed the back yard," I said, a bit sharply. "Didn't you see them? They're all in bloom."
Needless to say, my husband is not a gardener, which has been a disappointment to me. I've always thought it would be more fun -- not to mention we'd have a better garden -- if we worked as a team.
Every once in a while, I've "invited" him to share some garden chore, which he's dutifully done. But I realized I'd never really tried to share our garden with him in a more accessible way -- by opening his eyes to what was there.
"I'm taking you on a tour when we get home," I said. The next morning, we walked through our garden. I pointed out the roses, the pink ones climbing on the trellis, and the deep-red ones on hardy shrubs. I showed him the clematis, the heuchera and the peonies, stopping here and there to pull a weed. I showed him the veggies, pointing out which ones would produce tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and beets.
"Is that a weed?" he asked, pointing at a big, vigorous clump of ligularia.
"Nope, it's a perennial -- it comes back every year," I said. "I planted it because I like the leaves, but it gets a flower, too, a yellow one."
By the end of our little tour, he could identify a few plants. And I had a new appreciation for my own garden -- because I'd taken time to stop and see the roses.
Tending a garden is its own reward, but sharing a garden is even better. If you tend a great garden -- or know someone who does -- now is the time to share it, by nominating it in our annual Beautiful Gardens contest. It's easy to nominate. Just send a few snapshots of the garden, along with a brief description, including who tends it and where it's located, to email@example.com. Or, if you prefer snail mail, send entries to: Beautiful Gardens, Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488, We'll be accepting entries through June 16. The winning gardeners and gardeners will get their moment of glory on the cover of the Home & Garden section and online at startribune.com.
We're looking for gardens of all types and sizes -- big and small, urban and suburban, flowers and veggies.
So don't be shy. Share your garden so others can enjoy it. And even if your garden, like mine, is kind of ordinary, take a few minutes to share it with someone -- maybe even someone in your own household.
On my way in to work this morning, I saw someone’s sprinkler system running. Seriously? We received about 3” of rain last night and someone doesn’t take the time to turn off their system. Plus there is more rain on the way… and it was forecasted for about a week.
Now I’m not your best water conservationist. I don’t have a rain barrel and I rinse my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. But seeing that person’s sprinkler going this morning really got me going. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and we don’t have a problem with obtaining enough water – but what if we did? What would need to be done in terms of public education?
This is a gardening blog so I’ll get back to that… BREATH.
A lawn needs about 1” of water per week. The best time of day to water is very early in the morning and once or twice per week. It is best to provide more water and allow that water to sink deeply in the soil rather than short frequent bursts of watering (10 minutes daily).
And while we are talking lawn care, friends have been asking me about weed control. Usually, you should wait until the end of June before applying post emergent killers. This year is out the window due to our early Spring. If weeds are bad, whack ‘em… just like I wanted to whack that sprinkler owner this morning.
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