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!