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Gardener's almanac

Hold on for the ride _ This is the time of year when the forecast really gets interesting: Not only has the first frost been mentioned, but so has freezing precipitation. Keep your ear to the ground on the weather, but don't let it freeze there.

Adding bulbs _ The wet and chilly weather is not amenable to planting, but hopefully the soil will dry out soon and we can resume adding trees, shrubs and bulbs to our yards.

Daffodils are a great addition that can take some shade and that naturalize — that is, they increase in number year after year without the need to replant. You can learn more about daffodils at a lunchtime lecture and a seminar on Wednesday and then be prepared to buy them at the Wichita Daffodil Society's sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 17 at Botanica. Garden centers, of course, also carry them.

The lunchtime lecture Wednesday at Botanica will feature the daffodil society's Margie Roehr talking about daffodil cultivars that not only grow well in Kansas gardens, but also win ribbons at daffodil shows. She'll also preview the varieties that will be for sale Oct. 17. The lecture is at 12:15 p.m. and is included in Botanica admission.

Botanica will also offer a class on varieties of daffodils and how to grow them from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday. The class costs $8, or $6 for Botanica members. Register by calling 316-264-0448.

Fertilizing bulb beds — It's good to fertilize established bulb beds in October, Ward Upham of K-State says. But if they've been fertilized before, they likely don't need any phosphorous or potassium. The only way to be sure is to have a soil test done. If the soil needs phosphorus and potassium, use a complete fertilizer (such as 10-10-10, 9-9-6, etc.) at the rate of 2.5 pounds per 100 square feet, Upham says. That equals 1 rounded teaspoon per square foot. If phosphorus and potassium are not needed, blood meal makes an excellent fertilizer, Upham says. It should be applied at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet or 1 teaspoon per square foot. Turf fertilizers such as a 27-3-3 or 30-3-3 can also be used, but cut the rate to 1 pound per 100 square feet or 1 teaspoon per 2 square feet, Upham says.

Plant — Fescue grass seed until Thursday; tulip, daffodil, crocus and other spring-flowering bulbs, through October; garlic, through October; mums, pansies, kale and asters.

Family of Four Garden — The last of the peppers were picked from the Family of Four Garden at the Extension Education Center this week, and then the plants were pulled out.

"It was sad to see them go, but the weather is getting too cold for them to produce much more," extension agent Rebecca McMahon reports. "The chard is still going strong, though. The cutting celery, Brussels sprouts, carrots and salad greens are also enjoying the cooler weather."

Three pounds of peppers, three bunches of Swiss chard, one bunch of cutting celery and a bunch of basil were harvested for a total of $16. The garden has now paid for itself, netting a harvest of $308 for the year.

Rose winterization talk — The public is invited to a program on winterizing roses at the next meeting of the Wichita Rose Society, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Botanica. Members will also discuss what worked and what didn't during the 2009 growing season. This will include specific rose varieties, gardening strategies and garden products. Consulting rosarians will be on hand to answer questions. Light refreshments will be served starting at 6:30 p.m.

Daylily meeting _ The Wichita Daylily Club will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Botanica. The public is welcome.

Bootanica — Botanica will have a fall festival for the family from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 17. The cost is $7 a person (children under 2 are free.) There will be educational activity stations, performances, and food and beverages for sale.

Plant a Row for the Hungry — If you have any fruit or vegetables or herbs that you'd like to donate to the needy, you can do so at these locations during business hours.

* Kansas Food Bank, 1919 E. Douglas

* Augusta Ace Hardware, 316 W. Seventh Ave. in Augusta

* Brady Nursery, 11200 W. Kellogg

* Hillside Nursery, 2200 S. Hillside

* Hillside Feed & Seed, 1805 S. Hillside

* Johnson's Garden Centers, 802 N. Ridge Road, 21st and Woodlawn, 2707 W. 13th St.

* Valley Feed & Seed, 1903 S. Meridian.

Explore Kansas Prairies —Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston will offer jaunts to high-quality prairie remnants to gather seed, observe birds and insects, and identify prairie plants on Tuesday and on Oct. 27. The trips will start at 4 p.m. and end by about 8 p.m. The fee is $5; children under 14 are free. Call 620-327-8127 to reserve a spot.

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