Gardener’s almanac (Jan. 4)

01/04/2014 12:00 AM

01/04/2014 7:08 AM

Winter gardening — Reader Suzan Nutt has been writing to share her experience with amaryllis: “Especially love my winter window amaryllis garden this year,” Suzan wrote in an e-mail. “I was surprised to see three blooms pop up, and then four blooms from one bulb! … Waiting to see what colors they all turn out to be is half the fun. Picked the bulbs up for $5.97 from Atwood’s while purchasing chicken food. Glad I did! Winter gardening in Kansas is a lot of fun this year.”

Ice melt – We’ve already had cause to use ice melt this winter. Ward Upham of K-State outlines the types of chemical de-icers:

• Calcium chloride. The traditional ice melt. Pros: It melts ice to about minus 25. It probably won’t hurt plants unless you use too much. Cons: It turns concrete and other hard surfaces slippery and slimy.
• Rock salt (sodium chloride). Pros: It’s the cheapest, effective to about 12 degrees. Cons: It can damage soil, plants and metals.
• Urea (carbonyl diamide). This is a fertilizer that is sometimes used to melt ice, effective to 21 degrees. Cons: It is only about 10 percent as corrosive as sodium chloride, but it can contaminate ground and surface water with nitrates.
• Calcium magnesium acetate. This is a newer product that is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid. Pros: Unlike other products, it does not form a brine but instead helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other or the surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces. Its effectiveness decreases below 20 degrees.

“Limited use of any of these products should cause little injury,” Upham writes in K-State’s Horticulture newsletter. “Problems accumulate when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area.

“Since limited use is recommended, it is best to remove the ice and snow by hand when possible. When (ice melters) are applied, practice moderation.”

Garden events

Botanica talk – Karla Jahn, tour coordinator at Botanica, will give a talk there at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday about how its gardens change through the year. The lunchtime lecture is included in Botanica admission.

African violet meeting – The Wichita African Violet Study Club will meet at 1 p.m. Friday at Botanica. Admission to the meeting is free and open to the public.

Concert at arboretum – The folk-music Stray Birds will perform Jan. 12 at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. The concert will be at 4 p.m., and food will be available for purchase at intermission. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children; call the arboretum at 620-327-8127. For more information, go to the website www.dyckarboretum.org.

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