Gardener’s almanac (Nov. 17)

11/17/2012 7:51 AM

11/17/2012 7:58 AM

Preparing for spring peas – I love that horticulturist Ward Upham of K-State – quoted often on these pages – talked this week about preparing for planting peas first thing in the spring.

“Peas can be planted earlier than just about any other vegetable crop because they can grow well at a soil temperature of 40 degrees,” Upham wrote in K-State’s Horticulture 2012 newsletter. “Though other crops such as lettuce, parsnips and spinach can sprout at lower temperatures (35 degrees), they don’t start growing well until the soil reaches about 45 degrees.”

Because soil is often too wet to work in the spring (Upham hopes that will be the case especially this time, since we need the moisture), Upham advises preparing the soil for peas now.

“Wait until soil temperatures reach 40 degrees next spring and sprinkle the seeds on the soil and push them in with your finger,” Upham writes. “Protection from rabbits and deer will probably be needed as they will be attracted to anything green coming up so early.”

Sounds good!

Peony fertilization – Cut peony foliage back to the ground if it hasn’t been already, Upham says. Peonies should be fertilized twice a year: after you cut them back and in the spring shortly before new growth appears. Apply 1.5 to 2 ounces of a 1-1-1 fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 each time, he says. “This amounts to 3 to 4 ounces of fertilizer per year,” Upham says. “If a soil test reveals adequate levels of phosphorus and potassium, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer such as a 16-0-0. You may even use a lawn fertilizer such as a 29-5-4, 27-3-3 or something similar, but cut the rate in half. Never apply fertilizer directly on the center of the peony as the buds (eyes) may be damaged. Rather, place the fertilizer in a band from 8 to 18 inches from the center of the plant. Water the fertilizer in so the plant can take it up.”

Peonies only need to be mulched the first winter after planting, he says; a couple of inches of mulch that doesn’t mat should be enough, applied after the ground freezes. Remove the covering before growth begins in the spring.

Tree peonies should not be cut back at all and should be fertilized this month, Upham says. They should be mulched lightly for winter.

Garden events

Thanksgiving week and Illuminations at Botanica – Botanica will be closed Thanksgiving Day and during the day the Friday after. But then it opens at 6 p.m. that day – Nov. 23 – for Botanica’s holiday event, Illuminations. The gardens will be alight for Illuminations nightly through Dec. 30 (with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas). Hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and the cost is the same as last year: $7 for adults, $6 for members, $5 for children ages 3 to 12.

There is no lunchtime lecture next Wednesday. But poinsettias will be the subject for the next lecture, Nov. 28.

Birding at Botanica – One pre-Thanksgiving event at Botanica will be the monthly bird walk, at 9 a.m. Tuesday. It’s included in Botanica admission.

Winter Luminary Walk – A living nativity will be a new addition on Thanksgiving weekend for the Winter Luminary Walk at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston.

The holiday event features several hundred candles lighting the half-mile path around the pond and thousands of Christmas lights on the Fridays and Saturdays of the next two weekends – from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Nov. 23, 24 and 30 and Dec. 1.

The living nativity will take place the first weekend and will feature the newly constructed leaf house as the stable. Throughout the evening, the Christmas story will be read every half hour.

On both weekends there will be s’mores over bonfires, and cookies and hot almond tea. Cookies baked by the Hesston Women’s Civic Club and hot almond tea will be served in the Visitor Center. The gift shop will feature the work of local artisans from noon to 8 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24.

On the second weekend, the Hesston College Bel Canto Singers will perform at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, and the handbell-ringing duo of Kendra Flory and Janelle Flory Schrock will perform at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

The cost of the luminary walk is $5 for adults, $3 for students and $2 for children ages 4 to 15. Proceeds help to maintain the 28-acre arboretum. For more information, call 620-327-8127.

Rosy food drive – You can exchange donations to the Kansas Food Bank for free roses through November at Via Christi gift shops. Six free Rio Roses are given in exchange for five food-pantry items or a $5 donation.

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