Friday, September 9, 2011

Color just arrived at Johnson's

Colorful Pansies from Colorado

Spring flowering bulbs from The Netherlands

Kansas grown Asters

We finally made it.  September is here and the color keeps arriving at Johnson's.  This week, our spring flowering bulbs arrived from The Netherlands, Pansies arrived from cool colorful Colorado, and our Kansas Asters have arrived.  We always encourage buying local, but the Dutch grow the best bulbs, the cool nights of Colorado grow the best pansies for early fall, and our Kansas Aster grower grows the best Asters.
The Pansies and Asters will love to be in the ground right now, but the spring flowering bulbs would best be planted starting in October.  Right now though, we have the best selection of bulbs, so get them now while the selection is at its best.
The cooler days, and nights have made a world of difference in our attitudes and landscape, get out and enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Better Late Than Never

We've been encouraging people for over a month now to get their lawns ready for over-seeding this fall.  If  you live in the Wichita area, you know that bermuda grass likes to invade our turf type fescue lawns.  Bermuda by itself can make a nice lawn.  Bermuda by nature is a spreading turf variety and can creep into  our fescue lawns.  Ideally one would have sprayed their bermuda in fescue in early August to get a kill, then over-seeding can start in late August/Early September.

Like many things, I put off spraying the bermuda, I'll blame it on the hot dry summer.  Actually, the herbicide Killz-All works best when the plants are actively growing, which the were not a month ago. With some moisture, the bermuda has come to life and I have decided to convert our lawn at our 13th Street store to Gard'N-Wise fescue blend.

We sprayed the lawn today (September 7th) with Hi-Yield Killz-All.  Instead of only spraying the bermuda, we chose to completely kill off the existing turf and plant the latest varieties recommended by Kansas State University research.

Sprayed lawn September 7, 2011
Watch here for updates and see how our new lawn progresses.

Lawn almost dead September 12, 2011
You know how when you spray something and you start asking yourself after a couple of days, "Is that stuff working"  Not that I talk to myself, but I was wondering this weekend if the Killz-All was working.  I thought that maybe it was starting to turn a little bit yellow.  I was just getting impatient.  Whenever I am helping someone with an over-seeding project, I normally tell them to wait a week to see much of the grass starting to die.  Well today, it happened.  I came back from lunch, and the lawn is close to scalping and seeding.  I am getting a great kill in only 5 days.  Hopefully we can get on with the project later this week, stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miracle Fruit!

Imagine, popping a single small fruit in your mouth, swish its pulp around for a minute, and anything you eat for the next 30 minutes will be sweet. YES, sweet.

That is the magic of Miracle Fruit. Native to West Africa, this small bright red oval fruit, though not sweet itself, seems to reprogram the taste buds to sense sour as sweet.

Lemons, vinegar, sardines, Tabasco, things most of us take in small doses become delightful flavors. Some folks are so enamored with the effects, they host “Flavor-Tripping” parties. Guest are encouraged to partake of a single berry and sample a smorgasbord of odd delicacies, reporting what the taste reminds them of.

The plant, not winter hardy, can be grown indoors in a container. The plant is evergreen, with long deep green leaves. In its native habitat it can reach 18ft. but rarely over 5 ft. otherwise.

It loves high humidity and acid soil. Potting soils high in peat moss and acidifying fertilizers offer the conditions it loves. Use a pot that drains well as Miracle Fruit does not like wet feet. It can be grown outdoors during climate weather in partial shade.

Try this, and other exotic tropical fruits such as Star fruit, White Sapote, and Abiu, available now at Johnson Garden Centers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water, Water, Water

This week's timely tip was written by Sallie Strole, Assistant Manager at our East location. Sallie has worked at Johnson's for almost three decades and is extremely knowledgeable in anything and everything related to gardening.

The calender may say June, but the temperatures are screaming August. The multiple 100 degree days we've had are signaling that it is time to kick into the summer care routine for your lawns.

Lawns need to be watered well enough to soak the soil so grass roots will extend deep into the ground. Deeper rooting will enable the lawns to withstand stress better. There is no magic number for the amount of time you need to run the sprinklers, it will depend on the heat and your soil type. Ideally, fescue should have at least one inch of water a week divided among three or four days; a little more in times of extreme heat and less from the sprinklers if we get rain. In sandy soil that may mean longer running time since those soils drain quickly. Clay soils may need two shorter runs in the same day to ensure deep enough penetration without water running off. Watch your lawn for dry areas to see if the sprinklers are hitting all areas. A good way to get an accurate measurement is to set out multiple straight sided cans, run the sprinklers for 15 minutes then measure the amount of water in each can.

Another tip for making the most efficient use of the water you put on is to water in the early morning when it's cooler and less windy. You'll lose less water to evaporation and blowing that way. Also, adjust your mowing height up to 3.5 inches for fescue and let the grass clippings drop. What that does is shade and mulch the crown of the grass plant keeping it cooler and less stressed. With any luck we'll get some rain and cooler temperatures, but be prepared just in case summer is here to stay!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Watering: What you need to know!

The one question that I get more often than any other is ‘How often do I need to water my garden?’ The simple answer is to water your garden (plants) often enough, with enough water to let the plant grow and produce flowers/fruit. Too much water, and you will drown the plant, not allowing the roots to receive enough oxygen. Not enough water, the plant will not grow.

I my vegetable garden, I keep an eye on the plants and let the plants tell me when they need water, no they don’t talk to me, but when they start to slightly wilt, they’re thirsty.

I like to use drip irrigation for a number of reasons. 1st, it conserves water, giving only the desired plants water. Not watering between the rows, and watering any weeds. 2nd, Drip irrigation regulates how much water is give at each dripper. These precise drippers will allow ½, 1, or 2, gallons of water per hour to pass through. When the plants are newly planted, with 1 gph (gallon per hour) drippers, usually 30 minutes, twice a week is good. As the plants mature in the summer usually an hour is required twice per week. With drip irrigation there is very little evaporation which again conserves water.

Mulching the garden or landscape area will also reduce the amount of water needed to grow healthy plants. I use straw mulch (watch out for wheat that will germinate) and cypress mulch or cottonseed hulls in my landscape or bedding areas.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Patio Gardening

This year, instead of putting in a huge garden in my backyard, I decided to try my hand at a little patio garden. Keeping things simple is my M.O. these days, so a patio garden is right up my alley. I've used four of the Earth Box kits and two bulb crates that our spring flowering bulbs come in. In the Earth Boxes I've got two with tomatoes (Jet Star and Black Krim), a green bell pepper (Big Boy), and a cucumber (Burpless Bush). There's a zucchini (Aristocrat) and yellow squash (Goldy) in the bulb crates.

For the soil, I used Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil combined with Happy Frog Tomato & Vegetable. I then watered everything in with Fox Farm Grow Big. Placed at the edge of our patio, with adequate sunlight, I foresee a great yield of fresh grown veggies in a few short months!

What did you plant this year, and what's your favorite soil and fertilizer to use? Leave us a comment!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Annuals Galore!

Planting your flower beds for summer color can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Similar to planting spring flowering bulbs in the fall, in anticipation for spring, brilliantly colored annuals add life and curb appeal to your landscape.

When looking for annuals that will fit best in your landscape, make sure you take into account the amount of sunlight the area will get. Some annuals, like lobelia and impatiens prefer a shadier environment. Annuals like lantana, vinca and verbena enjoy the warm summer sun. There are also some varieties like begonias that like both sun and shade.

Another thing to consider when planting annuals is the quality of soil. By using a quality potting mix like Fox Farm's Ocean Forest Potting Mix, or a nutrient dense soil recipe, like Johnson's Healthy Soil Recipe will make your annuals grow bigger and healthier.

Next, once you've planted your annuals in quality soil, you must not forget they need food and water! Fertilizing will keep the plants blooming, and blooming big. Whether it's ferti-lome's Blooming & Rooting or Root Stimulator, or Fox Farm's Beastie Bloomz or Big Bloom, applying a fertilizer each month will maintain the health and increase the size of blooms on the plants.

Finally, make sure you keep your newly planted annuals watered, especially when the days are long and hot!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Time for Pruning

As the weather begins to warm up and we get in the mood to work outside, there are a number of spring pruning projects to keep your green thumb busy. If you haven't already, start by cutting back your ornamental grasses. These are already starting to turn green and should be cut back to 6-8" as soon as possible.

Shrub roses (Flower Carpet, Knock Out, etc.) may be pruned in early spring. Cut back any dead or diseased canes and then prune for shape and size, preferring to leave young healthy canes and pruning away older canes.

Roses such as hybrid teas, floribundas and grandifloras should have winter rose collars removed. Prune back any suckers (canes coming from below the graft union), then remove any damaged, dead or diseased wood. Select three or four healthy canes of younger wood, keeping in mind the shape of the bush after pruning. Remove other weaker and older canes. Next, prune back the canes being saved to a length of 8" to 12" making the cut above an outside bud.

Climbing roses should be pruned only AFTER blooming in the spring, otherwise you're cutting off this year's flowers. Climbing roses don't need to be cut back as much as other roses, but should have dead, damaged or diseased canes and suckers removed.

Feed all roses with Bayer All-In-One Rose & Flower Care to prevent pests while fertilizing.
Also avoid pruning spring-blooming plants such as lilac, white spirea, forsythia, quince, etc. until after they are finished blooming or you will cut off this year's flower buds. Feed flowering shrubs with granular ferti-lome Gardener's Special.

It is also time to cut back and feed perennial plants. These die to the ground every year so the old foliage needs to be taken off close to the soil line. Then fertilize the newly emerging shoots with ferti-lome Geranium, Hanging Basket & Pansy Food.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Get Diggin'!

Since you've got your garden all planned out and scheduled, now's the perfect time to start diggin' in the dirt! If you've got your spot marked from last year's garden this will be a cinch. However, if you've got a luscious yard, full of beautiful green grass, it may be just a bit more challenging, but not hard.

With these few easy steps, you'll be digging in no time.
1. Spray the area of desired vegetation with Hi-Yield Super Killz-All, and once it's looking brown and crispy, scalp it on the lowest setting with your lawn mower.

2. Apply ferti-lome Gardener's Special or FoxFarm Tomato & Vegetable Food, broadcasting by hand-held or broadcast spreader for consistent application. We've got broadcast spreaders for loan if you need one. You can also pick up a hand-held spreader inexpensively when you come to get your fertilizer.

3. Once the fertilizer is applied, till the area until the fertilizer and dirt are mixed, and the dirt is good and fluffy. The fluffier the dirt, the easier it'll be to plant.

Let's say you've done step one and 2, and see step 3 requires a tiller. Do we expect you to go out and buy a tiller? Nope! Beginning this year, you can rent one at Johnson's! We carry two sizes of tillers, depending on the size of your garden. Prices starting at $30 for 3 hours.

4. Now it's time to plant! You now have a blank canvas to plant whatever fruits and veggies you'd like. If you're planting actual plants (not seeds), we recommend watering the plants in with an application of either ferti-lome Blooming & Rooting, or FoxFarm Grow Big.

If you have any questions regarding your lawn, garden, or landscape, send them to us! We love answering your questions and are here to help:
via email:
on our wall:
or on twitter: @jgcwichita

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It Takes Two to Tango.

Growing fresh blueberries may not pop up on your list of staples to grow in your landscape, but with the price of fresh berries in the supermarkets, it's silly not too!

Incorporating them into your flower beds as a shrub adds some different variety and texture to what plants you may typically see, but it's a creatively useful way to make use of the space. The thing about blueberries is it takes two to tango. At least two. By planting two different blueberry varieties, they will cross-pollinate creating larger berries.

This spring we've gotten in quite a few varieties of blueberry plants including Patriot, Bluecrop, Sunshine and MANY more. They are easy to plant, and easy to care for.

Here's the recipe of what you'll need:
- a bag of Peat Moss
- a soil acidifier, we recommend either Hi-Yield Soil Sulfur or FoxFarm Happy Frog Fertilizer for Acid Loving Plants
- at least two different varieties of blueberries
- a bag of Cedar Bark Mulch, or any comparable organic mulch

First, you'll need to dig a hole for each plant at least 1' in diameter larger than the plant. Holes should be approximately 2.5' apart.

Second, with the fill dirt, mix it in a 1:1 ratio with the peat moss. Peat moss will enhance the growing conditions and the overall health of the plants.

Third, take your soil acidifier and apply it to the inside walls and bottom of the holes. This will add an additional boost of nutrition to the plant.

Fourth, place one plant in each hole and backfill your hole with the peat/soil mixture. It is important that when placing your plant in the hole, that the top of the root ball is slightly higher than ground level. This will enable any access water to run off.

Finally, give your new plants a drink of water, a 1-2" mulch covering, and a monthly application of the soil acidifier.

Expect an abundance of blueberries once the plants are established. Typically 2-3 years.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chilly Nights

Spring has sprung, as you can see by the array of colors that have appeared in the past week or so. This burst of spring lets us know that warmer temperatures and longer days are on their way. We are excited to dig in the dirt, and it's the appropriate time to be getting a wide selection of vegetables in the ground. However, we need to keep an eye out for when the temperatures dip down near freezing.

If you've planted your broccoli, radishes or tomatoes, you'll want to cover them up. We've got several products that can help you protect against the frost. The first is a floating row cover that simply does as it's name implies...floats over your row of plants to shield them from frost. We've also got a product called FreezePruf, which is a ready to use spray that you spray on the foliage before a frost hits. It lowers the freezing point of the plant, and will last up to 4 weeks with normal precipitation.

Let's say that you're not prepared, Johnson's has closed for the evening and you're scrambling to find protection for your plants. A cardboard box will do the trick in protecting against frost. If, by chance, you miss the weather forecast, or the weather man is wrong (which is unlikely), and you notice frost on your plants in the morning, spray the leaves with water and melt the frost off as soon as you notice it.

If you want us to keep you in the know, sign up for our Dirt Alert emails. We'll alert you on gardening topics from the weather, controlling annoying pests, or when to apply your fertilizer. You can sign up here!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kinda like a home mortgage only...tastier!

Asparagus is a hardy perennial and is one of the first crops harvested every spring. The bonus asparagus gives is it's durability and cooking versatility. The plant can last for 30 years or more in the garden, and is a great vegetable to outline your garden in. Since you won't be digging it up every year and starting anew, it's important to plant it 7-8 inches underground, out of the way of your annual tillage.

Early spring is the perfect time to plant your asparagus, you can also plant it in the fall. When planting it, dig a trench 7-8 inches underground and cover it up with a few inches of soil. You'll continue to add soil as the season progresses, similar to planting potatoes.

While asparagus produces a substantial root system, and is fairly resistant to stressful conditions, it is imperative that it is planted in well drained soil and in full sun. Since spears begin to shoot up in early April, it is likely that some of the spears may be damaged by frost. If this happens, simply remove the damaged spears, and the plant will quickly send new spears to replace them.

To harvest asparagus, after the first year, simply snap the spears 1/2-3/4 inch above the soil level. If you'd prefer to cut the spears, simply cut just below the soil level. In order to avoid woody stems, keep them under 10 inches. Asparagus is a second year crop, meaning you won't harvest anything the first year.

Asparagus is such a fantastic vegetable with a variety of ways to serve it up. Whether it's on the grill, steamed, cooked on a skillet, or however your taste buds prefer, fresh asparagus is hard to beat!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Growing potatoes is one of those crops that is extra rewarding because when it's harvest time, it's literally like digging for treasure! We'll walk you through the steps of planting potatoes, it's literally easy as 1,2,3.

Take your seed potatoes and cut them into chunks (quarters work well) and let them dry out a bit...

Once your chunks have had a chance to dry out, place them on top of a 2-3" layer of soil in your container. We recommend using SmartPot containers...

Cover the tops of your potato chunks with another 1-2" of soil. Once the foliage begins to grow, add some more soil. Once the foliage begins to die, let the fun harvest begin!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Prevent Crabgrass Today!

Now that the weather's warming up a bit, and spring is in the air, it's the perfect time for crabgrass to germinate.

Nip it before it germinates and you're more likely to have a crabgrass free lawn than if you wait until this unsightly weed has sprouted.

We recommend applying ferti-lome's For All Seasons Lawn Food Plus Crabgrass and Weed Preventer. Make sure once you apply it you water it in. Or, if you plan it right, apply it just before it rains (in the forecast for this Friday) and Mother Nature will take care of it for you!

Also, now is a great time to spray your turf with ferti-lome Weed Free Zone for annoying broadleaf weeds, including Dandelion, Henbit and Chickweed.

If you are planning to treat for crabgrass, we recommend using the liquid form of the Weed Free Zone since both the For All Seasons and granular Weed Free Zone contain fertilizer. By using granular of both products, there will be an excess of Nitrogen that your lawn requires this time of year.

We invite you to stop in and check out these great products, and the exciting new products we have in stores this spring!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Featuring: Ocean Forest Potting Soil

This weekend we're having a "New Varieties" Seminar at our 13th St. location. We will unveil new varieties that will be in our stores this spring including the new "Black Velvet" Petunia along with some other fantastically unique varieties of annuals. With spring well on it's way, it's the perfect time to get an idea of you'll need for planting these beautiful plants.

As you begin planning for porch pots, whether it's for flowers or veggies, it's important to remember the benefits of healthy soil. This week's Happy Hour, we're featuring FoxFarm's Ocean Forest Potting Soil for $14.99, reg. $24.98. This soil is full of nutrients, made up of natural, organic matter. FoxFarm describes their Ocean Forest Potting Soil as a blend of "premium earthworm castings, bat guano, and Pacific Northwest sea-going fish and crab meal. Composted forest humus, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat moss give Ocean Forest its light, aerated texture."

Stop by anytime this Thursday for our Happy Hour, and get some nutrients for the plants you'll be welcoming home this spring!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Planning your Landscape.

Today's economy being what it is, most of feel that having a lush landscape is out of the question. But in reality, it is not. This year at Johnson's, we're doing things a bit differently. We want to show you how to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, as well as show you how to do what you want, for yourself, this year. From growing a garden full of home-grown goodness, raising free-range chickens, and especially having the best looking landscape on the block, Johnson's is here to help.

This Sat. Feb. 19, we are having a Do-It-Yourself Landscape Design Seminar. It will start at 2:00 at our Ridge Road location, so come ready to learn how easy it is to put in your own landscape. Prior to the seminar, however, we want to get you thinking about some basics of your landscaping. How much room do you have? Are you looking to go big, or stay small? To get the most from this seminar, bring a rough measurement of the space you are wanting to transform. With this information we can help you find the best option(s). It can be out in the middle of your yard or around your house. The choice is yours.

You also need to be thinking about what you want your landscape to offer. Do you want something that will attract butterflies, birds, or create a place in which fairies live? Or do you want an abstract masterpiece filled with asymmetry? Creating your own landscape will tap your inner creativity, and for those creatively challenged we have a staff that would love to help you out. Through the use of a few different textures, plants varying in height and color, and the addition of some statuary or rocks, you will be well on your way.

We are excited to share our ideas with you at the seminar, and would love to answer any and all questions. See you Saturday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Biscuits Taste Better than Pinecones.

My three year old came home from preschool last week asking if she could hang the bird feeder she had made up in our tree. Sure, why not? As we continued talking about the goings on at preschool, I asked her if she made her bird feeder out of pinecones and peanut butter. You know, the old fashioned way. "No, we made them out of biscuits, silly!" she replied. Oh, silly me, I should have known.

The weekend came and went, I forgot about the bird feeder (which was still in her backpack), until Tuesday morning she asked me again if she could hang her bird feeder. I didn't really feel like going out into the blizzard to hang the feeder, which would have deteriorated in the snow anyway, so I told her we'd do it later. Finally, this morning as I was emptying the contents of said backpack (yes, I know we're supposed to empty them right after preschool so we know if there are any, you know, conferences that they've canceled school for...oops.) I saw the bird feeder. It was, as she said, a biscuit, with seeds baked into it, complete with a loop for hanging.

We finally hung the bird feeder, and it's anxiously awaiting little feathered friends to come have a nibble. Since then, I have been thinking about the biscuit, the birdseed, and really the whole ordeal. What a fantastic idea! You have less of the mess that you get when the recipe calls for spreading the pine cone with peanut butter, and it has definitely got to taste better!

Anyway, long story, well...long, I thought I'd share this idea with you, to do with your kids, or for your birds.

All you need is:
1 can of biscuits
bird seed (We recommend Cole's, since it's so delicious the birds will eat it all making it mess free. But whatever you have on hand will also work)

Separate the biscuits and dip them into a bowl filled with bird seed, pressing the seed in the dough if needed. Make sure both sides are covered with seed. Bake the biscuits according to the instructions on the can. Once they're baked and cooled cut a small slit in the top to thread the yarn through and tie a knot at the top to make a loop. Hang somewhere outside, and watch it them be devoured!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seed Starting

We all know that growing your own fresh veggies are healthier, taste better and more cost effective than buying them at the supermarket. Anymore, supermarkets are selling us mass produced, genetically modified, chemical laden products with absolutely no flavor. Now, we're taking growing your own garden to the next level.

Imagine knowing that you not only grew your own fruit, but you grew it from it's most infant form. This week, we're focusing on seed starting, growing your garden literally from scratch. Starting seeds can be challenging, and a lot of trial and error, but the reward is incredible. There are several things you need to begin including containers, potting soil, light, heat and water.

First, choose a container that is sanitized, has a drainage hole, and sufficient room for root growth. The ideal potting soil is a soil-less combination of pearlite, vermiculite, and peat-moss. Light and heat are extremely important for seedlings, as they need an average of 16-hours of light per day, which can be given via 40-watt fluorescent bulb. Also, keeping your soil between 80-85 degrees is the perfect temperature for seedling germination. You'll also want to keep them covered, either with plastic wrap, or a plastic greenhouse dome to ensure proper heat is maintained.

In order to maintain proper moisture, and to keep seedlings from becoming drenched, use a spray bottle to mist the seedlings. If the soil seems to dry out too quickly, set the container in a dish of water to enable the roots to take up water from the bottom.

As the eagerness of spring is upon us, now is the perfect time to get a head start on growing the fruits and vegetables that will sustain us throughout the year. Join us this Saturday, February 12 at 2:00 for a Seed Starting Seminar. The seminars are free of charge will take place at all Johnson's locations.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Indoor Gardening at it's Best.

Ok, so maybe it's not quite at it's best, but it was a fun experiment! Just after Christmas we decided that we wanted to try our hand at growing some veggies in one of vacant greenhouses.

We potted peas, beans, squash, onions, and tomatoes in hopes that we would have enough to sell them in our store. Our peas, beans and onions are doing pretty well, the squash is ok, but not taking off like we had hoped. The tomatoes we will move outside when the weather warms up.

The nice thing about the greenhouse structure that we have, and most greenhouses in general, is the ability to tie vine twine on the upper supports to help vine crops grow vertically. We got some good height on our vine crops, and the foliage looks nice.

We planted our onions in a raised bed towards the back of the house. They have come up well, and smell great. There's nothing like the smell of fresh, homegrown produce.

Indoor gardening is a fantastic way to garden all year long. If you were able to attend our Indoor Gardening Seminar a few weeks ago, Seth gave you a tour of the growing greenhouse as well as the hydroponic area. If you stop by our west 13th location and want to see what's 'growing', just ask Seth to show you around. He's got a vast knowledge of hydroponics and growing indoors. He's even got a 4' tall squash plant that was grown in our hydroponic area!

We are definitely going to use this as a learning experience and plan better and earlier next year. This spring and summer look for new vegetable gardens around our stores.