NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR FEBRUARY 21, 2015

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when do i prune back my forsythia or lilac bush?

BY GEORGE EDGAR

 

Most spring flowering shrubs like Forsythia, Lilac, Flowering Almond, Bridal Wreath Spirea, etc. can and should be pruned just after they get done flowering.  You have a three to four week window to prune.  After that they begin setting flower buds and any pruning will be removing flowers for next year.

The best way to prune these bushes is to prune out 1/3rd to 1/4th of the biggest oldest canes all the way to the ground.  This will open up the plant and let the bush develop new growth.  In three to four (4) years you will have a new healthy bush. This pruning is necessary to keep it blooming as the flowers usually come on the ends of the branches.  If you want to shorten or shape your bush a little more, do this after removing these old canes.        Copyright 2015

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ASPARAGUS

BY GEORGE EDGAR

 

          I have two rows of asparagus in my garden. One row was there when I built our house. It is actually is just across the line into my neighbors garden but I take care of it. The other row I put in myself. Some plants are from roots I bought and some are from seeds that I started. I think that plants from roots do better and a gardener can purchase ďAll MaleĒ roots. All male roots are usually sold as a New Jersey variety and are more vigorous and make larger stems. Part of the reason is because the male plants do not produce those little red seeds. Therefore more energy is used to develop the roots and to make larger stalks. I have that a couple purple plants that I started from seed. They also produce seeds but some think the purple asparagus is sweeter.

          When planting asparagus seed I usually start them inside as you would any vegetable or flower seed.  I put three or four in a pot and then as they get larger, transplant all of them into a larger pot and plant pot and all in the ground. The next year I dig up the pot, separate the seedlings, (or you can select the largest plant and cut off the rest rather than disturb the roots) and plant the new seedlings into the garden in the spring. 

          Make sure you plant asparagus plants or roots at least 8 inches to 9 inches deep. Some gardeners even go as deep as 12 inches and some only about 6 inches. Cover the roots with no more than 2 to 3 inches of soil. During the summer as the plants grow, fill in the hole with good soil or compost. I like compost so the next year the new shoots do not have to work very hard to come to the surface. Do not harvest the first two years after putting the plants or roots in their permanent location. Then harvest a small crop the third year. This waiting makes for good strong, long lasting roots.

          I do not pick the last spear from a root when harvesting. I read about this someplace and find that the plants do better. I also stop picking when the new spears coming up are about the size of a small pencil. When they get this size it means the plant is getting weak. Over picking weakens the plant.

I leave my old canes up for winter interest and prune them all the way to the ground when they begin to look bad or in early spring before the new spears break the soil line.

Copyright 2015

 

BLOSSOM END ROT

BY GEORGE EDGAR

 

          Many of us have a problem with blossom end rot on our tomatoes, and squash. Low calcium transport in a plant appears to be associated with blossom end rot. Most of the time our Nebraska soils have enough calcium available for the plant so the addition of calcium to the soil or sprayed on the plant does not seem to help, as it is the transport of that calcium from the soil into the fruit that is the problem. Research has also shown that one of the reasons for the poor transport of the calcium to the fruit may be irregular watering. That is we plant the small tomato plants and then go on vacation, or we forget when we watered and then over-water. This irregular watering makes the calcium go up into the foliage and not enough to the fruit. Donít waste water by over watering and donít waste your money by over fertilizing.

Usually only the first tomatoes are affected as the plant itself uses the calcium that is available in order to grow. Then the second flush of tomatoes and all the later ones seem to be ok. Copyright 2015.