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Earth box gardening photos & garden questions answered


As usual, here’s some great info from colleague, friend and garden Guru Ron Wilson. Love the photos of the earth box planters!
“What happens after you close for the spring season on June 29, and we need a plant or weed killer or have a question?” – The gates may be closed, but we’re always here for you! Just call or email us. If needed, we’ll make an appointment to meet you here and get the plant or products that you need. Email us your questions or pictures of plants or weeds or whatever you have a question on, or call. We’ll take care of you just like the gates were open. (If coming here, you to need to schedule a time to meet with us.)

“What were you saying about a hanging bird bath / waterer”? – There are now hanging bird bath / waterer that look very much like dog and cat waterers, but are hanging! The ones we carry hold about 90 oz. of water, and have 4 nice sized pockets at the bottom for the birds to use for bathing / watering. Just unscrew the water jug, refill, screw the bottom back on and hang it back up. I think they’re pretty cool and get’s the bath / waterer up in the are so you can see it more and gets it away from potential predators closer to the ground.

“We just cut down an Ash tree that was killed by the Emerald Ash Borer and had the stump ground out. We’d like to have a new tree planted, but not sure when the best time would be. Also: any suggestions for a medium to quicker growing large shade tree?” – The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago – the second best time is right now. Yes, we think fall is an excellent time of the year to plant trees, but if the tree has already been dug or growing in a container, you can plant pretty much anytime during the year, including right now – going into the summer. If you had planted it last fall or this spring, you would still be watering it thru the summer the same as a newly planted tree, so now works just as well. Suggestions for that replacement tree would include the American Elms (Princeton / Valley Forge), some of the hydrid Elms (Patriot / Frontier), and the hybrid Red Maples (Sienna Glen / Autumn Blaze / Redpointe). But don’t look over the many selections of Oaks, Zelkova, Locust, and more! Lot’s of choices today, so come see our tree experts to see these trees or for more suggestions.

“Looking for a taller evergreen screen, but our yard isn’t all that big. Any suggestions?” – Oh yeah! Take a look at ‘Spring Grove’ or ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae. 25’ tall but around 10’ wide at the base! I may suggest looking at a screen planting that includes a variety of plants – deciduous and evergreen – which would be more appealing and easier to replace a plant (should one die somewhere in the future) without much notice. Bring in a picture of the area to our Nursery Outlet and let our ‘quick sketch designer extraordinaire’ Bob ‘Bobba Louie’ Hirth give you some suggestions! It’s free!

“I have clover patches all over our yard. What can we do?” – Clover is a very tough perennial that multiplies by roots and by seed. And once established, can send runners through the lawn in search of other thinner areas to grow. And speaking of seeds, clover seeds can lie dormant for several years before they germinate. So, if you have clover patches in your lawn and would like to get rid of them, read on! A Little Bit About Clover – Believe it or not, at one time clover seed was actually added to grass seed mixes especially in newer lawns. You see, clover actually takes nitrogen out of the air and makes it available for the lawn in the soil. It actually feeds the lawn for free! And except for when it’s flowering, clover is usually greener than the lawn. Earthworms really like the soil when clover is present. Clover is disease and drought tolerant, and avoided by most turf pests. And clover flowers are an important source of nectar for honeybees and bumblebees, and can be picked and tossed in with your salads. So why do you want to get rid of it? Well, it seems flowering plants in the lawns are just not accepted anymore. And that’s too bad, for all the good clover brings! Why Do I Have Clover Patches? -Remember, like with most ‘weeds’, when clover shows up in patches, it’s usually telling you that something is happening in those areas to cause the lawn to thin out, and allow the clover to grow. So, make corrections for the lawn to re-grow thicker in those areas. Keep the lawn healthier – Feed regularly (keep nutrient levels up) – Mow at a higher level – Core aerate – Raise sunken spots and improve drainage, etc. As we always say, “a thicker lawn means less clover (as well as most of the other weeds).
Getting Rid Of Clover Naturally – If you want to get rid of existing clover patches ‘naturally’, clover can actually be hand pulled out of the grass, and this works quite nicely in smaller yards. You can also try applying corn gluten meal on a ‘multi-year program’ which takes care of the clover seeds (pre emergent herbicide), as well as adding nitrogen to your soil. ‘Multi-year’ program as the seeds can lie dormant for several years. Combine these with good lawn care practices and you should be able to take care of the clover, over a couple years, ‘naturally’. Get Rid Of The Clover Now! If you need to get rid of it now, you’ll need to spray the areas with a weed killer that will kill clover but not the lawn. So when purchasing your lawn weed killer, make sure that it clover listed on the label for weeds controlled (Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra). Clover is a tough perennial weed to kill, and not all weed killers will do it. You may even add ‘Spreader Sticker’ to the spray to help it adhere to the waxy coating on the clover leaves, for a better kill. Do not spray the entire lawn – simply spot treat the clover patches as needed. And the best time to spray for clover control? Well, it can be done in mid to late spring, and may take multiple spot treatments, but the absolute best time for clover control is spraying the clover in the fall! That’s right – in the fall.

““There’s light yellow – brown stuff in our mulch that looks like vomit or the creeping blob. Any clues on what it is, and how to get rid of it?” -Dog Barf (Vomit) Fungus, a slime mold which is common in shredded hardwood mulches, but will show up elsewhere. All a part of the decomposition process happening in the mulch. Turns brown, yellow, orange, etc. Won’t kill plants or the pets or the kids, just looks funky. Scoop it up and throw it away, or fluff it up in the mulch. That’s all you can do. No preventatives, no curatives, just a part of the process.

“I heard you talking about late planting of the garden. How late and what are you talking about planting?” -Trees, shrubs, evergreens, roses, perennials, annuals, fruits and berries – these can be planted all summer and fall. Landscape crews will plant as long as the ground is workable and the weather conditions favorable. Annual vegetables can still be planted now as well, minus most of the early cole crops. Tomatoes and peppers can be planted thru the 4th of July producing late crops. Look at it this way – we have about 120 days until our average first good frost. Beans take 50-60 days, sweet corn 60-75 days, carrots 75 days, radishes 22 days, green onions can still be planted, even a late crop of cucumbers, squash, winter squash, and sweet and seed potatoes if you found them. And don’t forget – late July and early August become great times to plant fall cole / root crops / greens for the late fall season!

“I have bagworms on my blue spruce, and found out that I can’t use the horticultural oils on blue spruce. What else should I use?” -Good Point, and glad you read the label! Oils cannot be used on Blue Spruce, as it will turn the blue to green. (Although this can be a great trick to play on the neighbor. No-no, just kidding. Although it would be a good joke. But don’t do it!) Bt, Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, and Eight will work, as well as handpicking if you have the time. Helps to clear the mind! But get on them early!

“Is there ever a time that I should bag my grass clippings?” – I’m a firm believer in putting those clippings right back where they came from. But, there could be a few times where bagging could be suggested – severe diseased lawn where bagging helps get the diseased clippings away from the turf, to prevent clumping because the grass is too high, or if you needed the clippings to add a little ‘green’ to the compost pile, or wanted to use it for mulching in the garden (make sure it’s herbicide free if you’re doing that!).


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  1. Dana

    Hi can I plant a blueberry bush in the earth box and if so, can it winter in the box and will it come back in the Spring? I live I St. Louis Missouri. Thanks.

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Here’s what Ron says: If it was a dwarf selection, it could be grown in the Earthbox. But my concerns would be the overwintering…not so much for the blueberry but for the Earthbox (freezing and cracking). If you do, be sure to let it go dormant, then overwinter it in an unheated garage. Water once per month, but do not let water sit in the reservoir. Personally, I would grow the blueberry (dwarf or regular) in a large pot – 20 inch or larger – and use the Earthbox for herbs and veggies. If in a large pot that won’t freeze and crack, you could then overwinter it outside…just bring it close to the foundation – maybe put some bubblewrap around the pot for added protection. Good luck with it!

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