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Edition 11.34 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 25, 2011

Featured Quote:

"Nature does have manure and she does have roots as well as blossoms, and you can't hate the manure and blame the roots for not being blossoms."

~ Buckminster Fuller



Product Spotlight

MAG-I-CAL by Jonathan Green

Mag-I-Cal is a highly soluble form of calcium, which is readily available for plant uptake. One bag is equivalent to up to ten bags of pelletized limestone.

  • Rapidly raises soil pH--faster than lime
  • Provides calcium, essential for healthy lawns
  • Releases "tied-up" nutrients in the soil
  • Pellets are easy to spread, saving time and money
  • Use on lawns, new seedings, sod lawns & gardens
  • "Wakes up" beneficial micro-organisms
  • Inhibits moss growth
  • Used by professionals

For more information about Mag-I-Cal, visit the Jonathan Green website.


Caryopteris Bluebeard

Summer is the time of the year that most of us spend much of our free time outside enjoying our yard and gardens. I would like to tell you about a flowering shrub that is often overlooked for late summer to fall color; best of all, it thrives on neglect. This wonderful plant will look great in informal and more casual settings like around your patio, pool, or deck. The plant is covered with an abundance of bright blue flowers that will draw every butterfly in the neighborhood to your yard and garden. Are you interested in a plant that will allow you to cut flowers from it and give you hard-to-find blue flowers for table arrangements? If so, this is also a plant for you to consider.

Caryopteris will become a very valuable plant for your summer garden because of its wonderful soft gray-green foliage, or dark green, glossy foliage, or intense silver foliage--or even the new shiny yellow foliage the plant makes from the spring to the fall season. Even without the flowers, this plant will stand out in your landscaping beds. The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and just as wide. It will stay nice and compact--a rounded or spreading mound, depending on the variety you select. You can also control the size of the plant with your yearly pruning in the spring to encourage more new growth and flowers. Each leaf will grow 1 to 2 inches long and less than an inch in width with small indentations on its edge.

The flower develops on the tip of the branches and on the new growth made by the plant during the early summer. This new growth is usually 10 to 12 inches long and the stems are strong, making them perfect for cut flower arrangements. These flower stems completely cover the plant from the soil to the top of the plant. The flowers come in small clusters 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The flower buds open a few at a time, making the plant colorful. The flowers last for many weeks on the plant, giving it much color from late summer until frost.

The flower is a spike-like bloom but much different looking than the traditional spike flower--unlike the snapdragon or gladiolus, for example. As the flower stem develops, two flower clusters form opposite each other on the stem, containing a dozen or more tiny 1/4 to 1/2" flowers. As these flower clusters begin to open, a new stem will form in between the two flower clusters. This new stem will grow right above the flower clusters and grow 2 to 3 inches tall before making two more flower clusters. This process will continue from early August right up until frost.

Caryopteris will grow in a sandy loam that is well drained and will do quite well for you. But if you condition the soil with compost, animal manure, or peat moss when planting, it will thrive and put on a flower show in your garden like no other plant in your yard has ever done. The plant will not do well in heavy clay-like soil where water can collect during wet weather. When you plant, also add Soil Moist granules to help hold moisture around the newly forming roots. During the first year in your garden you will have to water a couple times a week until the plant is established. Once the plant becomes well-established in your garden, water it regularly, especially if the weather gets to be hot and dry.

Fertilize the plant in the spring, with a granular slow-release fertilizer like Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth Shrub and Tree fertilizer with Pro Biotic. If you want more flowers on the plant, feed the plant when it's in bloom with a liquid fertilizer like Miracle-Gro or Blooming and Rooting Plant food every other week.

Because the plant makes the flowers on the new growth made during the summer, it is important for you to cut back the plant in late March to mid-April to stimulate this new growth on the plant; this pruning will also control the size of the plant at the same time. Using hedge shears cut back the plant by 1/3 to 1/2 of its original size and create the shape you desire. If you cut the plant flat on top, it will spread more--or you can leave more on the top and cut back the sides to create a plant that is more mounded in shape. Always prune in the spring and never in the fall or the cuts you make on the plant may not have enough time to scab over and seal before winter arrives. In a cold climate with a lot of wind you could have many branches that will die back on the plant.

The soil around the plant should be covered with 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch or compost to help control weeds, retain water in the soil during the summer heat, and protect the roots during the winter months. Stone mulch will dry up the soil around the plant quickly during the summer and is not recommended for this plant. The caryopteris will do best when planted in a sunny garden but it will tolerate a bit of early morning or late in the day shade. The plant is winter hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to -20 degrees when planted out of the direct wind, so place plant near a fence, evergreen shrubs, or a stone wall.

Insect and disease problems are minimal, making this plant maintenance free. Plant caryopteris near white fall-flowering hydrangea, such as the PG hydrangea, 'Vanilla-Strawberry' hydrangea, or the 'Pinky-Winky' hydrangea for great color contrast in your garden. In the fall plant flowering cabbage and flowering kale near the plant for great texture and color contrast in your garden. This is a plant you want growing in a garden where you spend time enjoying the outside. So sit back and enjoy your garden filled with flowers and lots of butterflies this year when you plant the caryopteris shrub in your garden.

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Do you want a green lawn? It's time to make it happen!

Labor Day weekend is just 2 weeks away now, and this is the best time of the year to rebuild your existing lawn or start a new lawn from seed. First of all, let me tell you why the fall is the best time to rebuild the lawn or plant a new lawn from seed. At this time of the year, the soil is warm and that will help the seed to germinate faster and better than in the spring time, when the soil is cold and wet. Traditionally, the fall season will bring us more rainfall, making it easier for us to keep the soil moist so the seed will germinate better. In the fall, few weeds will germinate to compete with the young grass plants for water, fertilizer, and sunshine.

There is less stress to the new plant that is germinating, as the heat of summer is over. Morning dew will add moisture to the soil, helping with your watering. Also, in the fall you have fewer projects to work on compared to the springtime, when all the gardens need to be planted. As the weather cools off in October, any weeds that did germinate will be killed by the cold weather but the grass will continue to grow until the ground actually freezes. So enjoy the next two weekends at the beach or at the golf course and then prepare to get back on your lawn and make it green and thick again. A thick lawn in the fall means fewer weeds in the springtime and less work for you.

For rebuilding your existing lawn, begin by walking over your lawn and examining what it looks like when you're on top of it--not just looking at it from the driveway. A close inspection will determine what needs to be done to bring it back to its original (or a better) growing condition. It may be that all the grass needs is just a good feeding, a feeding with a broadleaf weed killer or a bit of seeding in patches here and there to fill in the dead spots caused by summer heat and lack of watering.

You may find moss growing in patches, especially in shaded areas of your lawn and that will be an easy fix with an application of granular lime this fall and again in the spring at the rate of 50 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. You can also use Jonathan Green's new lime substitute that will work much faster than the old fashioned limestone; it's called Mag-I-Cal. If the moss is as thick as a carpet, you will have to remove it from the lawn before you plant new grass seed this fall. If the moss is visible and you're not planning to reseed this fall, use the lime products to change the acidity level in the soil and slowly discourage the moss from growing. You can also kill the moss that is growing with Lilly Miller's Moss –Out without hurting your existing lawn.

If you have a lot of moss growing in the shade or even in the sun, it may be the results of having clay in your soil, preventing proper drainage during the growing season--especially in the spring or during rainy periods. If you have a clay type soil in your lawn, the clay will prevent the grass from filling in properly due to poor drainage, and moss will thrive. This is easily corrected with the use of Liquid Gypsum soil conditioner made by Soil Logic and found at most garden centers. Apply the product spring and fall and in a year or two your grass will thicker and moss problems will be minimal.

If you find that broadleaf weeds are a problem in the lawn, you will have to decide if it's better to kill the weeds this fall and reseed in the spring or live with the weeds, reseed now and kill the weeds in the spring. You will not be able to do both this fall; you will have to decide to either kill the weeds and fertilize the existing grass or reseed the lawn and deal with the weed in the spring time. If you only have a few weeds I would reseed this fall and deal with the weeds in the spring with a weed and feed product when the dandelions begin to flower in early May.

If you look at your lawn right now and it's covered with crabgrass and broad leaf weeds and there is more crabgrass and weeds than good grass, you will have to consider planting your lawn from scratch. With today's technology it will be much easier for you than it was just 10 years ago but you will have to act now! Begin by spraying your entire lawn with Round-Up, Killzall or KleenUp this weekend. This will kill everything, including the good grasses, but it will give you a good base to start a new lawn. In two weeks, your old lawn is all dead and the weed killer you applied is gone, so you must do this NOW!

In the olden days you would have to rototill the lawn, rake up the grass and rocks, and start all over, leveling the lawn and rolling the ground until firm and raking again to fill in low spots in the soil before planting--that's a lot of work. Today with the weed killers I suggested you use, all you have to do is spray the lawn and in two weeks everything is dead and the weed killers I suggested have dissipated, so you can plant directly in the weed-free soil without hurting the new seed. The dead plants on top of the soil become a wonderful mulch, preventing soil erosion problems; they will help hold moisture in the soil and keep birds from eating the seed you will be planting.

In the olden days you spread the seed, fertilizer, and lime and then raked the products into the soil to cover the seed and then rolled the yard again to make sure the seed was firmly in place. Today you will rent a machine call a "Seed Slicer" at any power equipment rental center. This machine will cut small trenches in the soil, 1/8 to 1/4 inches deep, right through the dead grass and weeds; it will place the seed in these trenches where it will be in contact with the soil for better germination. Run the machine north to south and then east to west to make a crisscross seed pattern...and you're done. The machine will move all by itself; all you have to do is to steer and keep the machine running straight. When your seed is in place, run your fertilizer spreader across the yard with the lime product and then the fertilizer. This new method of seeding will save you HOURS of time and labor when planting a new lawn.

Now, when you plant this new lawn use a special fertilizer called Starter Fertilizer for New Seeding. It is specially designed to stimulate the new roots that are developing from the seed and encourage them to grow faster than normal so the grass plant becomes established faster in your soil. This fertilizer encourages the roots to form faster than the foliage, so the plant can grow on its own sooner with less help from you. I would encourage you to use this fertilizer when planting and again in 4 to 6 weeks to encourage a big root system before winter sets in; big roots on a new plant means less winter damage and a stronger plant when spring arrives. Did you know that 90% of the grass plant is ROOTS?

When I first started to work in the landscaping business, I was told by a wise man that using more seed than recommended on the package insured success because the major expense was labor to do the job properly. If spending an extra $50.00 on seed for $1000.00 lawn installation would insure that the customer was happy and the grass came in extra thick, it was well worth the expense. It'smuch better than going back to the home owner and adding additional seed because it did not come up thick enough. Do it right the first time and avoid problems later, buy good seed and stay away from fast-growing annual grass seed or cheap seed.

Always use perennial grass seed; you do not want to do this all over again next year!!! The better the seed is, the better your lawn will be--and most of us want that lawn to last forever, right? Ask for help when selecting the seed for your lawn; know what your growing conditions are like--the amount of sun your lawns will receive, how thick your topsoil is, are you going to water it once it is established and are you going to fertilize it. Did you know that over 60% of all homeowners feed their lawn only once a year or do not feed it at all and wonder why it's full of weeds? Weeds do better with neglect than grass does and that is why weeds come into your lawn, because their job is to protect the soil from your neglect--it's that simple.

Next week I will tell you about the different types of seed and how to select the right seed blend for your property. Just remember that if the air temperature is 100 degrees, your asphalt driveway is 100 degrees, but your lawn is only 75 degrees. Which temperature would you like around your house during the heat of summer?

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Garden Tips for the End of August

#1 While the summer sun is still strong and everything is still growing, let's use our time in the garden wisely. August is the best time of the year to kill problem weeds like poison ivy and poison oak that are growing on our property. Because these plants are still growing quickly now, weed killers applied to the foliage will work better than ever. Many weed killers stimulate the plants to grow faster than normal and the plant cannot make enough food for the plant so it literally grows itself to death.

Most weed killers are absorbed into the foliage like a fertilizer; the plant moves it down to the roots for storage but when it gets there, the weed killer will destroy the root system and the plant will die. For this to happen properly, the plant must be actively growing but as the weather cools and the days shorten your plant's growth will slow down. The product you are using will be less effective then, so get out in the yard and kill those weeds now--use Round-Up, Killzall, or KleenUp for the best results

#2 If you have Canadian hemlock growing on your property, this is the time to examine the foliage of the plant for possible insect problems called wooly adelgids. The insect is most active in the early spring and again in the fall of the year. Look for the insect on the tips of the plant where the new growth was made during the summer months. The adelgids will be on the underside of the foliage in clusters, and they will resemble small dots of cotton attached to the foliage. This insect is sucking the energy from the plant's blood stream and also laying eggs that will hatch in the weeks to come. As the eggs hatch, they will move up the plant and feed on new branches killing them and repeating the process in the spring until the tree has died.

As a home owner it is not always possible to spray your trees, especially if they are tall and large. The best and most effective way to treat this plant is with a "systemic" product that will move up the plant protecting it from top to bottom without spraying the entire tree. Bayer Advanced has developed such a product called "Tree and Shrub." All you have to do is mix the product the product with water and pour it around the base of the tree. In a couple of weeks the tree will move the product out of the ground and take it to the top of the tree and to all of the branches, protecting it from this problem for 12 months. Your local garden center will have this product or a similar product made by Ortho, Bonide, or Ferti-Lome at their store for you to use. Be sure to read the directions before using, so the product will work effectively for you and control this insect pest.

#3 Now is the BEST time to kill Japanese bamboo/knotweed. This plant came from the Orient during the 1800's and was introduced to this country as an ornamental plant to be used for erosion control. It did its job but it took over everywhere and is now found in most states. If you have Japanese bamboo growing on your property, you know it is a real problem to control or eradicate.

The best way to kill this plant is to follow these steps. In the spring when it begins to grow, pull it out or cut it down as soon as you see it. It will come back in just a few days, so pull it out, or cut it down again and again and again all summer long. August first, stop bothering the plant and let it grow all it wants. It will soon begin to make white flowers, and that is the time for you to act, because when the plant is making flowers, all of the stored energy from the roots is being used to make flowers to produce seeds to make more plants for next year.

At this time use Round-Up, Killszall, or KleenUp on the plant and the product will be able to find its way down to the roots and kill many of the plants. It won't kill all of the plants but it will kill much of the plant and sterilize the seed produced by the plant in the fall. If you follow these steps you will be able to destroy the plant in just 2 to 3 years, depending on how well it is established in your yard. Spray the foliage with either of these products every 7 days for 3 applications when you first see the flower buds appear on the plant.

I like to level the area where the bamboo is growing so I can mow the areas weekly during the summer. By destroying the new growth the plant makes and forcing it to use its energy to make new growth again and again, you weaken the plant and in August when you use the weed killers on the plant it will work better. When you use weed killers during the growing season the plant will laugh at you and they will be ineffective.

#4 You may be noticing the start of fall caterpillars in your trees now. These pests will get very active in the weeks to come. It all begins with a small cobweb like growth, on the tips of the branches of your trees and as the caterpillars grow and multiply in numbers, the tent-like formations will enlarge on your plants. Caterpillars eat their weight in foliage every day, and they get bigger every day, so they eat more every day. If you do not control them now, they could defoliate all the leaves on your tree in just a few weeks and they will make it more difficult for the plant to get started with new foliage in the spring.

In the fall of the year, all the energy the leaves make is sent down to the roots for storage and to use to start the new growth in the spring time. If less energy is stored for spring growth, expect less growth from your plants next year.

Here are two things you can do to stop the problem. The cobweb-like tent is their home and that is where they stay on rainy days and at night. If caterpillars get wet often, they will die, so take out your garden hose, and spray the nest apart with the pressure from your water, so they have no place to keep dry during stormy weather. If you look at the nest, you will also notice that they are all grouped together inside the tent because they use their combined heat to stay warm--especially on cold days, so break the tent and they will get wet, cold, and die. You can also spray the trees with Spinosad or Captain Jack--a new biological insect control product that targets the caterpillars and is safe for beneficial insects and birds in the trees.

#5 Now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden, so clean up those spaces where the crops are done producing and plants seeds for fresh vegetables during October. you have time now to plant green and yellow beans, peas, leaf lettuce of all types, radishes, Swiss chard, and spinach. In mid-September, fresh garlic bulbs will be available, so make room for them now and condition the soil before planting them.

Prepare the soil just like you do in the spring with compost, animal manure, or seaweed kelp. Your soil is warm and the seed will quickly germinate, so be sure to keep the soil moist at all times to help speed up germination. If you can use a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks, your plant will mature quickly and before long you will be eating fresh vegetables in early October. Fall vegetables have fewer insect and disease problems than those grown during the summer and cooler weather gives them more flavor. Extend your harvest to October, but you must plant now to give the plants time to grow. Enjoy!

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Garden Journal

Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder.

Also included:

  • 8 tabbed sections
  • 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
  • Weather records page
  • 6 three year journal pages
  • Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
  • 3 annual checklist pages
  • Plant wish list page
  • 2 large pocket pages
  • Sheet of garden labels
  • 5 garden detail sheets
  • 5 graph paper pages for layouts
  • 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Click here to order online.


trivia


This Week's Question:

An isopterpophobic person fears ________.

This Week's Prize:
Dramm ColorStorm Premium Pistol Spray Gun with Insulated Grip

  • Fully adjustable spray pattern
  • Ergonomic insulated grip
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Available in six vibrant colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and berry (let us know what color you like)
  • Lifetime Guarantee
DRAMM

Last Week's Question
What is a dibble?

Last Week's Winner:
Darline da Silva

Last Week's Answer:
It's a pointed tool used to make holes in the soil for seeds, bulbs, or young plants.

Last Week's Prize:
Drammatic "K"

One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!


Barbecued Alaskan Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 salmon steaks (1 inch thick)

Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the first six ingredients for the butter sauce. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Meanwhile, grill salmon, covered, over medium-hot heat for 5 minutes.
  • Turn salmon; baste with the butter sauce.
  • Grill 7-9 minutes longer, turning and basting occasionally, until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Yield: 4 servings

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Paul Parent Garden Club
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Kennebunk, ME 04043

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Coming information on a trip to the Chelsea England Flower Show, in the Spring of 2012.


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