NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR NOVEMBER 29, 2008

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CHRISTMAS FOR GARDENERS

BY GEORGE EDGAR

          What can I get my gardener friend?  What should I put my own Christmas want list?  It is that time of year again and you begin to wonder and struggle. Listed below are some ideas about tools and accessories that I use all the time.

1.     GO GREEN!!! Go green is the in thing and very good for our gardens and for the environment. I have twelve compost bins in my vegetable garden area. Half of them are made from recycled plastic and are about 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall. They can be purchased at most garden centers. The other ones are about the same size and made from woven wire fencing and are also about 3 feet in diameter and about 3 to 4 feet tall. I start in the fall with a bag of leaves and then a layer of coffee grounds. Then another bag of leaves and more coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are available at most coffee shops and Starbucks even has free 5# bags in each shop. If you donít have access to the coffee grounds a couple handfuls of lawn fertilizer will do with each layer of leaves. The compost piles I started last fall have been emptied and spread on my garden. I hope to till it in if it doesnít snow too much first. The compost piles are located at the north and south ends of the 30 foot rows in my vegetable garden.

2.     A compost thermometer or a soil thermometer makes a welcome gift for any gardener or person who takes care of a lawn. You can purchase either one at a garden center. The only difference is in the length of the probe. For the soil thermometer, you can go to a store that sells kitchen utensils and get a small one with a 4-5 inch probe and a round dial. I use mine quite a bit in the spring to check the soil temperature so I know when to plant seeds and transplants, when to apply pre-emergent on the lawn, etc.

3.     Another GO GREEN gift is a water barrel. Mine is a 50 gallon plastic barrel I purchased. I havenít got it hooked up yet but will install it under the down spout by the back corner of the house on a couple of cement blocks with a plastic hose that stretches into a flower garden area close by. The hose can be removed and the barrel is high enough for a bucket to go under the shut off valve. Rain water is very good for your plants and saves on your water bill. 

4.     Most gardeners need a good pair of pruners. I like the by-pass scissor action ones better than the anvil pruners. For non-gardeners the difference is in the action of the blades. The scissor action blades work just like a pair of by-pass scissors. That is, both blades are sharp and the cut is nice and clean.  Anvil pruners have one sharp blade that comes down on a flat piece of metal. Sometimes the cut is smooth but usually the stem being cut gets squished and the cut is ragged.

5.     A few years ago my wife gave me a heavy duty metal foot scraper for my birthday. I use it all the time. It is in the ground at the edge of the patio. Every so often I clean the soil away from behind it and put the soil back in the garden from whence it came.

6.     A boot brush also works good to scrape off the mud and dirt. I donít like to clean and vacuum the walkout basement so try to avoid tracking.

7.     The last item on my suggestion list may seem strange to you, but I use this quite often and leave it near the back door. This is a putty knife. The one I have is a very inexpensive and is used about every day to clean my shovel, hoe, or even the underside of my lawn mower. It is amazing how many things can be cleaned with a cheap putty knife.

Copyright 2008

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WEED KILLERS ARE TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE

BY GEORGE EDGAR

 

     Most gardeners are aware that the best time to go after many of our weeds is in the fall after the first frost. However, most do not know that weed killers such as Trimec, Super Trimec, Weed-Be-Gone, Super Brush Killer, and Glysophate products (Round-up, Kleen-up, and Ortho Weed and Grass Killer) lose their effectiveness as the temperatures drop below a certain point when applied and for a few hours afterwards. Many have tried to kill weeds recently and havenít been very successful because of the cold temperatures. Last spring weed control was also very spotty because the temperatures at the time of application was too low.

 

Trimec (Earl May Lawn Weed Killer, Weed-Be-Gone, Bonide Trimec ) needs temperatures 55 to 60 degrees F. or above at the time of application and for a few hours after, to be effective.

Glysophate products (Round-up, Kleen-up, and Ortho Weed and Grass Killer) also lose their effectiveness rapidly when the temperatures are below 55 to 60 degrees F when applied, and for a few hours after application.

Super Trimec and Super Brush Killer have the same chemicals as Trimec but are stronger. Its effectiveness is best when the ambient temperature is 45 degrees F. or higher at the time of application and for at least two to three hours after application.

 

A sticker-spreader is also needed to get maximum effectiveness from any weed control product. Most weeds have a waxy surface and a sticker-spreader such as Turbo or Acme Sticker-Spreader helps any chemical stick on the leaf and not run off on to the ground.

 

Go after those weeds but be aware of the temperature requirements of the products you use.

Copyright 2008