Saturday, July 19, 2014

August Garden Checklist

Vegetable Gardens

Don't forget to water. This is a critical time for ripening veggies so don't let them dry out if the rain slows down. Water deeply and thoroughly.

Keep harvesting. Get out into the garden every day if you can to keep everything picked clean at the peak of ripeness. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and so on will keep producing if you keep picking. Share extra with neighbors and loved ones, or preserve for the long winter ahead.

Plant some quick crops. All kinds of greens will pop up and be ready to eat before first frost if you plant them now. No open space left in the garden? Scatter the seeds under tall growing plants like corn and tomatoes. They'll appreciate the shade.

Annual Gardens and Containers
If it needs a haircut, give a haircut! There is still time for flowering annuals to recover from a haircut and bloom again before frost. Snip off spent flowers to encourage a re-bloom.

Repot your containers. Give those plants a fresh new home if possible, with new potting soil and a bigger container. If that's not possible, take the top 3 or 4 inches of potting soil from the container and replace with fresh stuff.

Begin prepping for winter beauty. Plenty of annuals will stay blooming an beautiful long into the winter if you bring them into the house before frost. Pot up a few geraniums, petunias, fuschias, nemesia, etc. in hanging baskets or containers, and remember to bring those containers in before frost.

Herb Gardens
Harvest herbs frequently to keep them producing like herbal factories. Dry the harvest completely and store in zip top bags for winter use, or freeze in ice cube trays.

Pot up a few good specimens for household plants. Rosemary will live happily through winter in the house, but not so happily under four feet of snow. Even tender annuals like parsley and basil make good houseplants, although don't be too disappointed if they give up the ghost in February.   

Trees  & Shrubs 
Trim out the dead wood. Get down inside your shrubs and cut away dead sticks from the center. Blooming shrubs which are past their bloom benefit from a moderate haircut at this time of year, but don't go overboard.

Pick some apples. Keep an eye on your apple and other fruit trees. If the branches are bending under the weight of ripening fruit, pick some (even thought it's not ripe yet). The fruit that is left behind will finish larger and juicier, and no branches will break.

Plant new trees and shrubs now. It's the perfect time to plant these items- they have time to get their roots down before winter sets in. 

A Guide to Pruning Perennials

A Guide to Pruning Perennials

Pruning is typically defined as removing growth from an herbaceous or woody plant to maintain health and vigor. However, pruning can also be highly beneficial for your perennials. 

Benefits to Pruning Perennials: 
  • Maintain shape and regulate size of plants. 
  • Control flowering and fruiting. 
  • Promote new growth and flowers. 
  • Controls pest and disease. 
Tools that can be used for pruning are by-pass pruners, pruning scissors and hand-held shears. By-pass pruners make a clean cut through the stem of the plant, a great tool for deadheading and cutting back perennials. Avoid anvil type pruners as they can crush and damage the stem of the plant. Hedge shears are useful for pruning several stems at one time, a great tool for fall and spring cleanup. Smaller pruners should be used when doing more delicate and detailed pruning. And of course, the best pruning tool of all, your fingers. 

Deadheading perennials refers to the removal of spent flowers. Removing the old flowers is beneficial for the plant because it promotes the growth of new flowers. If the flowers are left on the plant they will eventually go to seed. The production of seeds consumes a great deal of a plant's energy. When the plant's energy is not being used to produce seeds, the energy is focused on producing vegetative and root growth, resulting in a stronger plant. 

Methods of deadheading differ depending on species and the growth habit of the plant. The main thing to look for when deadheading is new buds and flowers. Remove only the dead flowers from the plant. Most perennials should be pruned to the lateral flower, bud or leaf. Pruning in this matter masks the cut that you have made and does not mar the attractiveness of the plant.

Some plants are best not deadheaded to promote self-seeding. Columbine, Achillea, Aegopodium, Ajuga, Alchemilla, Aster, Dianthus, Echinacea, and Violas are some of the more common plants that self-seed. Deadheading is a useful method to keep plants confined to their designated space. However, some plants tend to be weedy and spread to unwanted ares of the garden by seed dispersal such as Mallow. 

Some perennials such as Hydrangea and Baptisia are not deadheaded due to their beautiful seedheads. If you are looking to provide a great food source for birds, leave seed heads on Echinacea, Eupatorium, Sunflowers, Liatris, Monarda, Rudbeckia, and Hosta. 

Cutting Back
Cutting back may be considered a drastic form of pruning in the garden. Cutting back refers to pruning a plant to renew its appearance, encourage new growth and flowering. Cutting back can be done either before or after flowering. Cutting a plant back to the ground is beneficial for certain spring blooming perennials. Cutting back perennials can control the flowering time and height of the plant. When cutting a plant back, buds, flowers, and leaves may all be removed. Approximately two inches of stem should be left of the plant when cutting to the ground. Hedge shears are the best tool for cutting back plants. 

Disbudding perennials refers to the removal of the plant's terminal or side buds. Removing the terminal bud of a plant will cause the side buds to produce more flowers. The flowers will be smaller, but more numerous than if the terminal bud was left intact. 

Removal of the side buds will cause the terminal bud to produce a larger flower on a longer stem. Disbudding is a pruning technique that is commonly used on dahlias, mums, carnations, and peonies. Disbudding should be done before the buds are too large. Waiting too long to disbud can cause scars along the plant's stem.  

Thinning perennials refers to the removal of stems from a plant. The benefits of thinning perennials are improved appearance, increase flower size, and disease prevention. To thing a plant, cut the stems to the ground in spring. A rule of thumb is to thin one in three stems. The following plants are prone to rot or mildew, and thinning improves the air circulation around the plant: aster, delphinium, morado , phlox, lady's mantle, bugleweed, bee balm, and lamb's ear. 
Pruning Spring-Flowering Perennials
Pruning spring-flowering plants can be beneficial in several ways. Many of the lowe-growing rock garden and edgin gplants will benefit from being cut back to one-half the size of the plant after flowering. Prunin gback by one-half the size of the plant will prevent it from opening up at the center, which looks unattractive in the garden. Rock garden plants that benefit from this type of pruning are evergreen candy tuft, maiden pink, and moss phlox. Some plants such as catmint will rebloom after pruning. 
Pruning Summer Flowering Perennials
The main difference between pruning spring versus summer-flowering perennials is the amount of cutting back that is required after flowering. Depending on your objective, some perennials should be pruned before flowering and others should be pruned after flowering. Pruning after floweirng improves the aesthetics of the garden. 

When the weather has been very hot and dry, the plants usually look a little weather beaten. Depending on the species, some plants should be cut to new basal foliage, and others should be cut to the ground. Some plants look best if they are cut back by one-half or one-third of their mature height. When pruning perennials, cutting out the brown parts of the plant will stimulate growth of fresh green foliage. 

The following perennials benefit from cutting back in the summer: lady's mantle, false indigo, geum, sunflower, daylily, dianthus, garden phlox, and spiderwort.

Using Gazing Globes as Garden Decoration

Using Gazing Balls as Garden Decorations

Master Gardener

Gazing balls, also known as gazing orbs, have been incorporated into both formal and informal gardens for centuries. Gazing balls are typically seen tucked alongside pretty flowers and fountains or grouped together as an artistic garden feature.

Gazing Balls in the Garden
Gazing balls come in so many colors and styles that they suit just about any garden setting, from rustic to elegant and everything in between. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate a gazing ball into your outdoor space.

Tucked Among Flowers
Gazing balls add height, texture, color and interest when tucked alongside flowers in your garden. Pick a stand and ball style and color that best suits the garden where you wish to place the ball. Be sure that you accommodate for the mature size of your plants. You do not want the plants to hide the ball, but they look lovely hugging the stand or hanging behind the ball.

Grouped Together
Several different sized gazing orbs grouped together make a dramatic impact on any garden space. Purchase stands in varying heights and choose ball colors that coordinate with your existing landscape. Place balls in a location where they will be most enjoyed. Use a low voltage spotlight so your gazing ball group can be enjoyed when the sun goes down.

Beside a Water Feature
Gazing balls and water features complement each other nicely. Frequently seen together, this pair makes a stunning display in any garden setting. The light and water reflect off of the ball and produce a dramatic effect that adds to the beauty of the ball. If you have room, place a couple of gazing balls next to your pond or fountain and landscape around them.

Hung from Trees
Smaller versions of pedestal sitting gazing balls, known as faerie balls, hung from trees adds a dramatic effect to any outdoor space. Hang several of these smaller balls from heavy wire and hooks from a sturdy branch. Placing an uplight on the balls will allow their beauty to shine at night.

By the Front Door
Welcome guests to your house with a beautiful gazing ball perched on an artistic stand. If you have enough room, place one on either side of the door. Be sure to place the balls far enough away from the door so that they will not get accidentally knocked off of their stands.

Gazing Balls in Themed Gardens
Gazing balls are easily incorporated into, and can be used to help define, particular unique garden themes. The type of ball that you choose and how you display your ball will convey your chosen theme.

Rustic or Country Garden
To make your rustic garden really shine, try placing three or five glass gazing balls of different sizes and colors into a rusty old wagon and setting it in your garden. This creative mix of country pops when you add the gazing balls to the wagon. Other props, such as old farm equipment or even garden tools, are easily embellished with gazing balls. Place an old pitchfork in the ground on an angle and set a rusted red gazing ball at the bottom of the fork for another eye-catching garden display.
The key to using gazing balls in a rustic or country themed garden is to think outside of the box. Look around for old milk crates, tools, boxes, old bird baths, and other props to use with your gazing ball and forego the "traditional" pedestal arrangement.

Elegant or Formal Garden
The original use of gazing balls began in a formal fashion. Gazing balls are quite at home in any elegant garden setting. In a formal garden setting, it is important to pay attention to selecting a refined pedestal and making your gazing ball or group of balls a focal point. When placed in a group, the balls will have a more dramatic effect. For a modern and elegant feel, try using copper or bronze balls. When placed next to a reflection pond or incorporated into garden sculpture, gazing balls add a fresh edge to any formal garden.

Zen Garden
Gazing balls add a dramatic impact to any tranquil Zen garden setting. The cool metal of a polished silver gazing ball blends well with the natural elements in the garden and can be placed directly on pebbles or rocks in a medium to large garden or on a tray in a small garden. Try filling a metal tray with a little bit of water and placing a silver or copper gazing ball in the center of the tray for a dazzling centerpiece in your Zen setting.
The key to a Zen garden is simplicity; try to avoid groups of gazing balls or bulky stands.

Gazing Orb Care
Gazing balls are highly fragile and care must be taken when setting them up or moving them.
  • Make sure that you place the stand on a level surface, smoothing it out with a rake if necessary.
  • Take care not to knock into the stand while working in your garden.
  • If you expect high winds or other severe weather, it is best to store your gazing orb in a safe place. For those in the northern regions, it is a good idea to store your gazing ball inside for the winter.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Heuchera aka Coral Bells

'Autumn Leaves'
Heucheras like fertile, well-drained soils with partial sun or shade — morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect. Those are the ideal conditions, but they are fairly adaptable. However, they do not like wet or heavy soils. Another one of heuchera’s good characteristics for northern gardeners is that deer do not like them.

Heucheras are flexible design elements in the garden. They can be edger plants along a sidewalk or a standout plant in a rock garden. They look nice under trees or among other shorter perennials. They can be used to great effect in containers, providing the “filler” of the thriller,
'Pear Crisp'
filler and spiller combos that many container gardeners seek.

Varieties offered at Beier's include: 'Autumn Leaves', 'Little Cutie Blondie', 'Little Cutie CoCo', 'Berry Smoothie', 'Galaxy', 'Little Cuttie Sweetheart', 'Lava Lamp', 'Pear Crisp', and 'Paprika'.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Companion Planting: Herbs Instead of Insecticides

Using herbs and flowers in this way can keep your garden "green" and prevent tears when you find your prized tomato plant cut off at the root by some nasty bug!

Petunias, marigolds and geraniums can be planted in a border around the garden or trees. If you want the benefit of catnip without digging it out of your garden for years to come, put in a large clay pot and place nearby. For other pest preventers, thoughtful interplanting of vegetables can help with the process.

Underlined items can be found at Beier's Greenhouse.

Ants: Pennyroyal, spearmint, southernwood, tansy
Aphids: Garlic, chives and other onions, coriander, anise, nasturtium and petunia around fruit trees
Borer: garlic, onion, tansy
Cabbage moth: mint, hyssop, rosemary, southernwood, thyme, sage, celery, catnip, nasturtium
Colorado potato beetle: green beans, horseradish, dead nettle, flax, catnip, coriander, tansy, nasturtium
Cucumber beetle: tansy, radish
Cutworm: tansy
Flea beetle: wormwood, mint, catnip, interplant crops with tomato
Japanese beetle: garlic, larkspur, tansy, rue, white geranium
Leafhopper: petunia, geranium
Mexican bean beetle: marigold, potato, rosemary, savory, petunia
Mites: garlic, onion, chives
Nematodes: marigold, salvia, dahlia, calendula, asparagus
Rose chafer: geranium, petunia, onion
Slug: rosemary, wormwood
Squash bug: tansy, nasturtium, catnip
Tomato hornworm: borage, marigold, opal basil
Whitefly: nasturtium, marigold

Photo Corner with Janna Salmela Photography: Dreary Day Session Options

This spring I took a high school senior to Beier's Greenhouse because it was cold and there wasn't any green in sight. Remember how miserable our winter & spring was? My client was thrilled with her colorful pictures and it felt so good to be in the warm, moist air!  

Some things to remember:  
  • Call the owner to see if you can shoot in their greenhouse (and don't assume that it's free). 
  • Be courteous to the staff and customers, and always put back anything that you might have to move.  
  • Say thank you with social media shout-outs and promoting their business (in person and online).
Janna Salmela Photography

Hardy Mums: Garden Gems

Hardy Chrysanthemums, or Garden Mums, are popular plants that have been used in the gardens of China since before 550B.C.Their blooms brighten garden beds and borders from early August through November with blooms that often last for many weeks.Some varieties begin blooming earlier than others. Mums come in a wide assortment of colors including white, many shades of yellow, pink, lavender, red and bronze.

Today,Mums are a large part of the fall harvest season and are a great way to brighten and bring color to any spot in the garden. Mums are also great for use in containers, window boxes and around front entryways. 

How to plant and enjoy these garden treasures
·         Select a sunny, well-drained spot in the garden or choose an appropriate container. 

·         If planting in the ground, enrich the soil by mixing in a generous quantity of compost or peat moss, a cup of bone meal and lime (if needed, mums like a pH of 6.2-7.0). Work it all into the soil to a depth of 8 – 12 ½”. In window boxes or containers, use a good potting mix such as Dr. Earth’s Premium. 

·         Plant mums no deeper than they were in their container. If the root mass is dense, gently tease apart the outer roots so they can more readily grow into the new soil. 

·         Never let newly planted mums in bloom or bud dry out. 

Pruning (Pinching) and Deadheading
To keep plants dense and for maximum flower production, mums should be pinched occasionally. Pinching is a form of pruning used to remove the end or terminal buds.
Just place your thumb and index finger below a terminal bus and squeeze until the bud is removed. Do this all over the top and sides of the plant. Start when plants are 4-6” all, repeating every 4-6 weeks or as needed until around July 4th. Flower buds will begin to form shortly thereafter so no more pinching is needed. 

For larger individual flowers, when the flower buds form, selectively remove all stems except 4 or 5 of the strongest ones. Energy will be redirected to these buds, resulting in fewer but larger flowers per plant. 

After Blooming
After the flowers fade and the foliage dies back (mid to late-December) cut your mums down to the grown and mark or label the location of each individual plant. 

Apply a 3-4” layer of organic mulch (shredded cedar, pine bark, wood chips, ect) to protect the roots during the winter and to prevent them from heaving in the freezing and thawing of the earth.

In the Spring
When the snow has melted, remove the mulch from the base of each plant to allow the sun to warm the soil and trigger new growth. Fertilize with a good granular fertilizer like 5-10-5. Continue to fertilize every 4-6 weeks through September.

Making New Plants
For best appearance and productivity mums should be dug and divided every 2 or 3 years. This can be done in late-March or April when new growth is 4 – 6 ½” high. 

Dig up the mum clumps with a form or shovel. Separate the shoots from the mother plant with a sharp knife. Each shoot should include 1 – 2 ½” of roots. Plant the new plants following instructions outlined above; discard the old clump. Pinch the plants when they become established. 

Mums are also easily propagated (rooted) from stem cuttings taken in the spring from new, vigorous growth.