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My garden pal/expert answers all your questions

No kidding, Ron Wilson gets hundreds of emails a week. He answered some timely ones today and I’m sharing all that good info – read on – from water bags to begonias to tomatoes to, well, everything else that’s going on outside right now!

Yardboy Ron Wilson

Yardboy Ron Wilson

Posted Friday, June 20th 2014 @ 5am
“What are those green bag-like things I see at the base of new or smaller trees?” -Those are water bags. The idea of using them is to cut down on your actual watering time (only time spent is to fill them up), and to place the water right on top and in to the immediate root ball with a slow drip, with little or no evaporation! Each holds around 20 gallons of water, and zip around the tree trunk. For larger trunks, you can zip 2 or three together around the tree for more water.

“We would like a small patch of red raspberries in our garden. Which would you suggest we plant?” -For smaller gardens and containers, try the “Raspberry Shortcake”- thornless, stays under 3 feet in height and great producer. For regular sized plants, look at Heritage. And yes, you can still plant them!

“Do you recommend wax begonias for sunny locations?” -Absolutely! Here is a oldie but goodie group of annuals that have wonderful foliage, outstanding all summer colors, low maintenance, and will grow in sun or shade. That’s why they continue to be a favorite for landscapers and communities for mass plantings – and for home gardeners as well!

“Heard you talking about Pollinator Week but didn’t catch the website for information.” This week is Pollinator Awareness Week. Visit www.pollinator.org to learn more about all the different pollinators we have, and how you can help protect them, including a list of plants for your zipcode (which you can plant) to help the pollinators!

“We have a shady location and trying to establish a shade garden. Any suggestions for things that will come back every year and still grow in shade?” For shady characters to grow in that shady garden take a look at these shade lovers: Hosta – so many great hostas today with wonderful foliage, and flowers to brighten up any shady area. Lamiastrum – try Herman’s Pride, a shade lover groundcover with great variegated foliage and yellow flowers. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost, Alexander’s Great, Looking Glass, blue spring flowers and great silver veined foliage. Pulmonaria or Lungwort. Lily of the Valley – wonderful foliage groundcover with white bell like flowers. Ligularia – The Rocket with bold handsome foliage with spikes of bright yellow flowers getting up to 5’ tall – pretty impressive in the shade. Variegated Bishop’s Weed – a wonderful variegated shady groundcover. Epimedium or Barrenwort – heart shaped leaves, love the shade and will compete with tree roots – flowers yellow and red. And don’t forget the ferns! So many wonderful ferns, some evergreen, some deciduous, some staying low and some reaching 4-5 feet – and simply eat up those shade gardens. When it comes to shade gardening, there are varying degrees of shade, and in some cases, shading from surrounding plants can make these locations dry, so keep those factors in mind, and maybe limb up or thin a few plants to get away from deep shade. Also realize you’ll need to water more as these plants get themselves established, due to the lack of rainfall if protected by larger plants.

“We are installing new landscape beds in our yard and were wondering, do we still need to apply a pre emergent herbicide in those beds, now that summer is here?” -YES! Weed seeds are blowing into the beds all the time. Preparing new beds will turn up new seeds that may have been lying dormant for years. So by applying Preen, Corn Gluten, or Dimension now, you’ll stop those weed seeds before they ever get growing. Our landscape crews will apply a pre emergent to new beds right on into the fall plantings.

“Got a couple suggestions for our shade containers that can give us some good colors?” – Two of my most favorite annuals will work for you. Look at the many different coleus selections, as well as those wonderful heart shaped colorful leaves of the caladiums. Have you seen the new green blend caladium? Are you ready for this? It’s called “Frog in a Blender!”

“I read where I should water my container plantings until water runs out the bottom of the pot. I do that, but they seem to dry out really quick. Am I watering the right way?” -Great question, as I read that bit of watering information in gardening information all the time! If I just watered my containers until water came out the bottom, it doesn’t take very long for the water to run out of the bottom, especially if they’re close to being dry! Water will come out of the bottoms pretty fast, and there’s a real good chance that I did not thoroughly soak all of the potting soil! I water until I feel that I have totally saturated the soil and more. Water will run out of the bottom right away, then slow down as the dry soils expand, then start back up again. And once I’m finished soaking them, the water usually drains out for another several minutes which is exactly what we want. By the way, as we get into the heat of the summer, watering will be increased naturally. You can help reduce your watering by mulching the tops of the pots (just like the landscape beds), and by adding Soil Moist to the soil (if you didn’t when you first planted). Simply create several small channels down into the soil (down deep into the potting soil) and sprinkle in a few Soil Moist crystals, then back fill. Now you’ve created channels of water storing polymers that will help reduce your watering.

“My tomato blossoms are dropping off. What can I do to stop them?” – Okay so your new tomato plants are developing yellow flowers, but they just dry up and fall off leaving your plants with flower stem stubs and no new tomatoes. What’s a gardener to do? Be patient! You’re experiencing Blossom Drop in tomatoes. What causes Blossom Drop? (There are several possible factors!) -Temperatures / Humidity Levels (too high / too low) – If daytime highs go above 85 degrees or below 55 degrees or if nighttime temperatures go below 55 or stay higher than 70 degrees flowers will abort. Best range is between 70 and 85 degrees. Choose early maturing varieties for cooler climates and heat tolerant for hot / humid climates. Ideal humidity levels are between 40% &70%. Too high or too low may interfere with pollen release or sticking. -Nitrogen (too much / too little) – Too much food and the plants produce all foliage and weak flowers. Not enough and the plants -Water – Usually the lack of or inconsistent levels of moisture in the soil. Stressed Plants – Plants stressed from insect or disease issues, as well as moisture levels will abort flowers. Heavy Fruit Set – In some cases, plants that set too many tomatoes can only handle so many, so the flowers automatically get dropped. Lack of Pollination – Tomatoes are self pollinators, but still needs to be moved around. Lack of wind (or too much), insects, and plant movement may restrict pollination (too much rain as well). These are just a few of the many factors that could cause Blossom Drop. Bottom line is – just be patient. In most cases, as the plants mature and the weather changes, the flowers eventually turn into fruit. And if you don’t want to be patient, you can always try spraying the flowers with ‘Blossom Set’.

“What’s the general rule for amount of rainfall trees and shrubs need?” The general rule of thumb for existing trees, shrubs, the lawn, etc is about 1 inch of rain every 10 days for optimum growing conditions. Vegetable gardens would be about twice that. And if you don’t get it naturally, then it’s time to supplement. And the best way to know – place a rain gauge in your yard so you’ll know exactly how much rain your yard received.
NOTE: Adding organic matter to your soil helps roots grow deeper and stronger, as well as helps your soils wick water from pass thru rain showers. Core aerating the lawns, vertical mulching the trees and evergreens, as well as vertical mulching planting beds, tilling in organic matter in the fall – these are all great ways to help encourage healthier root systems, and better rainfall penetration into the root areas.

“What’s that spray formula for killing moss?” -Do remember there are several commercially made moss and algae killers available for you. The home remedy is one small box of baking soda dissolved in 2 gallons of luke warm water. Kills the moss but not other plants; won’t stain either. Temporary fix, but it does work. For longer action on walls, concrete, furniture, decks, walkways, roofs, siding, etc, use ‘Wet and Forget’. Plant safe, this stuff eats it away for months!

“Exactly how late can I plant veggies in our area?” -Based on our average first frost (Early October), Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, cucs, and such until the end of this month / first of July. Many of the greens, beets, radishes, beans, onions, etc. go into July and August for fall crops.

Read more: http://www.ronwilsononline.com/onair/ron-wilson-20097/gardening-questions-12483453/#ixzz35EmHQVUu

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