Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Proper Planting, Part 2

The Gardening Trivia Quiz

Hey, we have a winner of the garden trivia quiz! Our own Laura Fergus from the greenhouse staff gets a batch of homemade mini-chocolate chip muffins. Laura, I’ll bring them in tomorrow. I hope you plan on sharing! See below for last week’s answer. In the meantime this week’s question: What petunia-like flowering annual is related to the potato?
E-mail me your answer at leslieross@sbcglobal.net and I’ll send you back a coupon to use in the store. Good luck!

Spring is Here: Part Two

Last week I wrote about amending your soils. Today I will discuss planting.
After you have prepared the bed, the next step is preparing your plants. If the annuals or perennials you have purchased have not been "hardened off," or acclimated to the outdoor climate, place them outside in a shady spot during the day, then bring them into the garage at night. After a few days, they should be used to being outside and you can plant them. Give them a good soak while still in their flats or containers. If the soil in the containers is dry or the plants are root bound, water applied after planting may not penetrate the root ball and the plants will die. Water them again after you have planted them so that the surrounding soil is wet and the roots can penetrate into that soil. We recommend using Plant Start or Quick Start, two products that are root stimulators. These products are in a concentrated form and are mixed with water. Use this solution the first few times you water to stimulate root growth. You can use these products on all plants you are transplanting, including trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.

We get a lot of questions about how deep to dig the holes for planting. Most plants should be planted at the same level as they are planted in their containers. Holes for trees and shrubs should be dug as deep as is the root ball or container and one to two times as wide. You should mix one-half native soil with one-half soil amendment (compost) to back fill the hole. The same can be done with perennials. There are a few exceptions. Clematis vines like to have their roots cool and you can plant these vines a good six inches deeper than they are in their containers. Roses, especially roses that are grafted onto a root stock can be planted two to three inches deeper. Tomatoes are another plant that we recommend be planted deep so that only the top two leaf branches are above the soil. Tomatoes are some plants that require lots of water and nutrients. By planting them deep in the soil, roots will grow from the stem nodes allowing the plant to take up more water and therefore more nutrients. It also results in a much stronger plant.

Another tip for successful planting is to plant late in the day so that the plant has time to recover from transplant shock during the cool evening hours.

Garden Patrol: The Woodland Garden

One of the goals of this blog is to introduce you to local gardeners and gardens and recently I visited a woodland garden with quite a history. I met Randy and Nancy Schietzelt on Election Day where we were serving as election judges. (In a side note, congratulations to Nunda 11 for having a 22 percent turnout that day. Keep up the good work.) When I mentioned my work at Countryside, they invited me to see their fabulous woodland garden that has been in the making since 1948. I also learned a little Crystal Lake history that day.
My main purpose that day was to see the abundant Virginia bluebells that have been naturalized on their property and that were in peak bloom. The white pine forest that is visible from the road marks the beginning of their property. A previous owner planted these trees by hand and carefully watered them, bringing water by the bucket full from the house. As I came up the drive the ground just shimmered in blue. Also on display was trillium, jack in the pulpit, celadon poppies and wild ginger. In order to allow these woodland plants to flourish, Randy and Nancy have worked hard to eradicate the buckthorn and mustard garlic that grow wild but are non-native invasive species. A small stream also meanders through part of the property.
As we walked around Nancy gave me a brief history of the property. Randy and Nancy have lived in the house since 1998, when they bought the property from Ardeth Wingate, wife of the late Bill Wingate. Although the house was never listed by a real estate agent, an ad had been placed in an Audubon Society magazine, to which the Schietzelts belong. Prior to the Wingate’s owning it, the front part of the property had been a chicken farm. Down the road, near where Prairie Ridge High School is today, there had been a cheese plant. The water on the Schietzelt’s property was so clean and pure that the cheese plant piped the water to the plant for use in making the cheese.

Anyone who frequents Stern’s Woods off of Hillside or the Nature Center off of Hwy. 176, will be familiar with Wingate Prairie. The 33-acre site is part of Veteran’s Acres and the 27-year long restoration effort was lead largely by Bill Wingate, a teacher who had grown up in the area. (Anyone interested in helping to preserve Wingate Prairie can call the Nature Center at 815.455.1763 to get information about their scheduled prairie work days.) Bill and Ardeth must have been pleased to sell their home to such good stewards as the Schietzelts, who have kept up similar preservation efforts at Bill’s house.

Invasive Species

Many of the plants that we use in our gardening are not native to our country. Roses came from China. Many orchid species are from South America. Some of the ornamental plants we use today are hybridized species of native plants. There are some plants that have been imported, however, that threaten the economic livelihoods of ranchers and farmers. These plants have no natural enemies and crowd out beneficial plants. It is a huge problem in the western US, where economically important forage grasses must compete for scarce resources, water being one, with the non-natiave species. Buckthorn and garlic mustard are just two of the non-native species that have invaded northern Illinois. If you have these plants on your property, please do your part to eradicate them. For a more complete list of invasive plants, visit www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov

Nursery Notes

KC and the nursery staff report numerous calls about several tree problems. If you have Mugo or other pines you may have spotted the European Pine Sawfly larvae munching on the new growth, or candles. The larvae rear back when disturbed and they have quite the appetite. You may also have noticed little bumps on the underside of maple leaves. These are known as galls and are the reaction of the tree to the feeding of mites. Both of these problems can be solved by using Bayer Tree and Shrub Systemic insecticide (www.bayeradvanced.com). The product is a concentrate that is diluted and poured at the base of the tree or shrub and is taken up into the branches and leaves by the tree’s vascular system. The product remains active for a year. It is a good remedy for other boring insects, such as the emerald ash borer.

The Answer to Last Week’s Garden Trivia: Congress declared tomato to be vegetable in 1893. Can you think of any other vegetables that are really fruits? Also, here’s a hint for this week’s question. The answer to this week’s question is in a previous posting. Good Luck!

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