Archive for 1997

Soil Improvement

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on December 1, 1997 – 8:38 am

Now is the time to get out and clean up those flower beds and garden areas. Remove all the dead or dying plant debris. We recommend not composting this material as it can harbor insect egg sacks, weed seeds, or plant diseases which might not be killed by a generally cooler winter compost pile.

Speaking of compost, this is a good time to apply it to all new and old beds. Work it well into the soil and then apply an additional inch or two to the surface. On really exposed gardens, we like to plant a cover crop, such as rye or barley, which we turn under in the spring.

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Flower Beds and Garden Areas

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on November 1, 1997 – 8:37 am

Winter, with all the garden areas cleaned up, is an excellent time to think about soil improvement. In our corner of Southwestern Michigan, you cannot add enough organic matter to the soil. Winter is the prime time to add green manure or chicken compost to the garden as both often contain high concentrations of salts and minerals. The winter rain and snow tend to leach these harmful salts out and further breakdown the organic matter preventing tender plant burn. We often add urea at the time of application even though most compost liberate some nitrogen and other nutrients during decomposition.

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Fall Leaves

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on October 1, 1997 – 8:25 am

  Who can but marvel at the beauty of a flaming red maple decked out in all of its Fall splendor? Fall in Michigan is truly a work of art.  Unfortunately, these same gorgeous leaves present many problems to the homeowner once they fall. Leaves provide not only a natural haven for insects and disease, but cut off sunlight and oxygen to our lawns. Some leaves, such as walnut and cherry, are actually toxic.

We suggest using leaves as a mulch for gardens and flower beds. Any excess leaves you can always share with a neighbor or use in composting. As a last resort, place them out at the curb for the city to collect. Be sure to pile them so as not to block the storm drains or bike paths.

An excellent web site on composting can be found at http://aggie horticulture.tamu.edu/earthknd/compost/compost.html. We recommend anyone interested in composting take time and visit this site.

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Controlling Moss in the Lawn

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on September 1, 1997 – 6:00 pm

Moss only grows in the lawn when shade, low fertility or poorly drained soil are present. The moss does not kill the grass, the underlying growing conditions are so unfavorable that the grass simply dies out.

Providing adequate sunlite and drainage can be both difficul and expensive. Low fertility, on the other hand, can be corrected by using a well balanced lawn fertilizer.

Moss can be killed by spraying with copper sulfate or iron sulfate mixed 2 to 5 ounces to 4 gallons of water and applied at a ratio of 1 gallen per 250 square feet. Killing the moss without correcting the conditions that favor its growth will not prevent a reoccurrence of the problem.

Where shade is quite heavy it may be easier to plant a shade adapted ground cover rather than try to grow grass.

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Mole Control

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on August 1, 1997 – 6:09 pm

Moles can become a pest at anytime of the year. They eat grubs and earthworms but do not feed on flower bulbs or plant roots. They are the animals that make your yard look like a war zone.

There is no chemical means to control moles except to kill the grubs and earthworms that they eat. The only option is to trap the moles. Moles have two types of tunnels. One type is used only once, the other type is used regularly. The trap must be set on those tunnels the moles use regularly.

A less scientific method is available when the tunnels can be observed for a day. Step on those regularly used tunnels so they are completely pushed down. Look at the tunnels often through the day. When the tunnel is being pushed up, turn on the garden hose and push it into the tunnel near where the mole is working. The mole will be forced to the soil surface where it can be killed.

If you need someone else to take care of your mole problem, there is actually a company in Niles which will come out and trap your moles called Wild Animal Services.

Source: Michigan State University Extension

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Lawn Watering

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on July 1, 1997 – 6:06 pm

To maintain a strong, dense, healthy lawn, it is important to water during dry periods. A lawn needs approximately 1 – 1 1/2″ of water weekly. This should be applied twice a week in a single application 3 – 4 days apart. Daily, light watering only promotes shallow rooting which encourages crab grass and an unhealthy lawn prone to diseases. The normal garden hose and sprinkler combinations take 2 – 3 hours in one location to water effectively.

If you have a built in sprinkler system, we recommend varying your watering schedule. You can check the amount of water by putting out a bowl or rain gauge.

Do not let your new lawn dry out and crust over.

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Lawn Mowing

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on June 1, 1997 – 6:04 pm

Good mowing is important. Blade height should normally be 2 1/2 – 3 inches, longer in predominately shade areas. Vary your mowing patterns and sharpen your blade frequently. Final fall mowing should be at 1 1/2 inches to promote root growth. Preferably, clippings should be left on the lawn, as they quickly decompose and add both mulch and nutrients to the soil. Most, if not all, thatch build up is caused by poor watering practices.

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When Is The Best Time To Water?

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on May 1, 1997 – 6:19 pm

The best time to water your yard or garden is early morning between 5 and 6 am. During this time, the sun is not out to evaporate the water that you want to soak into the ground. If you water just after sunset, the water will stay on your plants overnight creating a great growing conditions for molds. Most people make the mistake to water in the afternoon heat because they think it is good for the lawn and garden. During this time, most or all of the water is evaporated before the lawn and garden can utilize the water.

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To Sod or Seed?

Icon Written by GeoffM1968 on April 1, 1997 – 6:16 pm

Important information you will want to keep in mind when you need to plant grass this year. During the months with an “R”, you can plant seed. The other months you will need to sod. During the months of May, June, July, and August, the climate is too hot and dry for ideal seed development and growth.

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