Gardener’s almanac (March 22, 2014)

03/21/2014 10:56 AM

03/21/2014 10:57 AM

Core aeration – Ward Upham of K-State recommends core aerating fescue lawns in March or early April. That gives the grass a chance to recover before weeds such as Bermuda start to germinate. Reserve a machine to rent for the job, but be sure the soil moisture is right when you do it: not too wet or too dry. It should easily crumble when worked between the fingers, Upham says.

Lawn and garden weeds – Wild onion and wild garlic are common sights in early spring lawns and garden beds. Options for herbicides are 2,4-D or 2,4-D + MCPP + Dicamba (i.e. Trimec, Weed-Out, Weed-B-Gon) sprayed during March on a day that is at least 50 degrees, or Weed Free Zone and Speed Zone that give a quicker response at temperatures near 50, Upham says. Adding a spreader-sticker to the herbicide if it isn’t in there already should make the product more effective.

Plant – Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, onions, peas, spinach, strawberries, rhubarb, turnips, beets.

Transplant solution – A mild fertilizer solution should be applied to plants at planting time when the soil is cool, because it can be hard for plants to take up nutrients in cool soil, Upham says. The starter solution or root stimulator puts the nutrients close to the roots. You can buy it or make it using fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen or potassium, such as a 5-10-5, 10-20-10 or 11-15-11, Upham says. Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of one of such fertilizers in a gallon of water several hours before use. “The fertilizer won’t completely dissolve, but enough will go into solution to get plants off to a good start,” Upham says. “Use about 1 cup of transplant solution for each transplant.”

Asparagus care – Lightly hoe in asparagus beds to remove weeds while avoiding crowns of plants; you can also add organic matter to the soil at the same time, Upham says. Herbicides can be used before asparagus comes up but not during harvest – glyphosate (Roundup, Killzall) for weeds that are actively growing and the trifluralin for weed seeds as they germinate, Upham says.

Remove old growth from asparagus plants now and fertilize as well, he says. Follow the instructions from a soil test or add 1 to 2 pounds of a 10-20-10 fertilizer per 20 feet before growth starts, Upham says. Fertilize at the same rate after the last harvest, he says.

Prune fruit trees – Fruit trees should be pruned if they haven’t been yet this year. Here are some of Upham’s general pruning rules:

• Take out broken, damaged or diseased branches.
• If two branches form a narrow angle, prune one out.
• Take out all suckers – those that grow straight up, either from the trunk or major branches.
• If two branches cross and rub against each other, take one out.
• Cut back or remove branches that are so low they interfere with harvest or pruning. If cutting back a branch, cut back to another branch or a bud. Do not leave a stub.
• Cut back branches to reduce the total size of the tree, if necessary.
• Thin branches on the interior of the tree.

Garden events

“Tulips, Fairies & Friends” – Botanica kicks off its spring season Saturday and continues it for the next four Saturdays with “Tulips, Fairies & Friends.” The Saturday events will feature performers, activities and crafts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each Saturday will feature a new butterfly mascot for the Downing Children’s Garden, at least two crafts, life-size fairies in the garden, find your fairy name, a gnome scavenger hunt, fairy houses and Papa Murphy’s pizza for sale.

There also will be special events on each of the Saturdays. This Saturday, there will be a Tiny Tea – children’s tea with mini-cupcakes – from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. and voting for the name of the new mascot.

Admission is included in membership or regular admission: $7 for adults, $5 for ages 3-12, free for ages 2 and under, $6 for seniors and military.

Prairie Winds meeting – The Prairie Winds Daylily Society will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Botanica. Janet Gordon, horticulturist at Botanica, will give a talk on the plants that performed well at Botanica in 2013. The meeting is free and open to the public.

New-plants talk – Dan Parcel of Kaw Valley Greenhouse will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about the garden center’s new plants. His 12:15 p.m. lecture is included in Botanica admission.

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