NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR MAY 19, 2012

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GARDENING IN MAY

BY GEORGE EDGAR

 

1. PLANT FOR DRIED FLOWERS: When you plant this spring, donít forget to include flowers that you can dry this fall. You can raise Statice, Globe Amaranth, Straw Flowers, and other everlastings to provide flowers for dried flower arrangements. Every year I have a row of Drumstick Allium for a couple friends that do lots of dried flowers. Drumstick Allium is a small bulb that is usually planted in the fall but can be planted in the spring if you can find bulbs. Be careful as it multiplies so must be divided about every 3 to 4 years.

          I also try plant a row of large red Celosia (Cockscomb type) for friends. My Cockscomb usually has blooms that are about 8 inches to 10 inches across and when dried in full shade, or better yet in the garage, the dried blooms retain their color for over a year. They are beautiful in dried flower arrangements and can be grown very easy from seed. Most full season garden centers will carry the seed. I like the Cockscomb type of Celosia but the Plume type is also pretty.

2. GRASS SEED: It is too late to plant grass seed now because of our strange spring. Usually the ideal time is between April 15th and May 15th in the spring and between August 15th and September 15th in the fall. Grass seed needs soil temperature of at least 55 degrees F. to germinate. This is soil temp not air temp. I have a small meat/kitchen thermometer I use and push it in the ground at least 2 to 3 inches and wait about 5 minutes and read the dial. It is also helpful to check the soil temperature in the vegetable garden so you know when to plant seeds that need certain temperatures to germinate. If the ground is too cold the seed just sits there and may rot. The same with tomato plants. I usually donít put my plants out until May 15th here in eastern Nebraska but it was safe the last part of April this year.

          If you put crabgrass preventer (pre-emergence) on your lawn, you will have to wait until fall to plant grass as the pre-emergence herbicide will also keep grass seed from germinating.

3.  BREAKING UP HARD CLAY SOIL IN THE LAWN: Most of us in Southeast and South Central Nebraska have hard clay soils for a lawn. This is especially true if you have a new home in a new development. The best way to start to remedy this situation is to apply 1/4 inch of compost all over your grass and then core aerate. The aerator will pull out plugs of soil and also push the compost into the soil. Your aerator should pull out a 4 to 6 inch long plugs so you are adding compost about 4 to 6 inches deep. If you do this at least once a year for a number years, you will be amazed the change. One cubic yard of compost will cover about 1,296 square feet at a depth of 1/4 inch. Do your lawn a favor, add compost. Do not do this in May if you have put on a crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide. Wait until fall. The best time in the fall to do this is between August 15th and September 15th. The best time in the spring is between April 15th and May 15th and before you put on your crabgrass pre-emergence herbicide.

4. LEFT OVER WEED KILLER, ROUND-UP, AND INSECTICIDE:

          Last week one of the Master Gardeners got a phone call from a gentleman who was wondering why his Round-up (glysophate) did not work on killing dandelions. He put on two applications with the first being in early March. When asked he said that the container had been in an unheated shed and had been frozen. Most liquid pesticides including Round-up, Weed-Be-Gone, Hi-Yield Kills-All, Trimec, Eight, Sevin, and Fung-onil, can be kept for at least a year, as long as it does not go through a freezing and thawing in the winter. Most liquid pesticides are changed by the freezing and thawing and may be stronger or may be weaker. Many communities during May and June have unused pesticide collections along with other out of date chemicals and toxic materials. Dispose of these chemicals in a responsible way. Donate yours and donít take a chance. Donít take a chance you may get sick from something you put on a plant in the vegetable garden or that you may destroy that beautiful Tea Rose that is a family heirloom.       

          The other reason the herbicide may not have worked is because many are temperature sensitive. Most people do not realize that Round-up (glysophate), Hi-Yield Kills-All (glysophate), Kleen-up (glysophate), Trimec, and Weed-Be-Gone (has same active ingredients as Trimec) do not work very well until the air temperature is above 60 degrees F. and stays there for 3 to 4 hours after application. They are of limited use in the early spring and in the late fall as a result. Some formulations of Super Brush Killer (same active ingredients as Trimec but stronger) works when the air temperature is 45 degrees F. or higher at the time of application and for 4 to 6 hours after application. Dandelions, Henbit (with the little purple flower that is in bloom now), Ground Ivy, and Clover are best killed in the fall. This fall, after the first light frost, spray with Super Brush Killer with

Triclopyr (many brands), and then repeat the application in about 10 to 14 days. Super Brush Killer will not hurt your grass if applied according to the manufacturerís instructions. Remember the first rule of gardening: READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS.

Copyright 2012