THINGS TO DO:
Propagating a plant by dividing it into several individual plants, complete with roots and buds of their own, is called division. Most herbaceous perennials, those that die to the ground in the winter, will benefit from being divided every few years. Bee Balm (Monarda), Daylillies (Hemerocallis), some Sage (Salvia), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Coneflowers (Echinacea) are just a few that fall into this category. If your perennials have become overgrown, died out in the center or just don’t bloom as well as they used to, rejuvenate them by dividing now. Have the area you plan to transplant them to or the containers you will pot them in ready so you don’t leave their roots exposed for too long. Add 1/3 Back to Earth Compost to 2/3 of your native soil and a handful of Bone Meal to encourage root growth when planting in the ground. Use Uni-Gro Organic Potting Soil for containers. Start by digging up the root system using a trowel, spade or in the case of large clumps a garden fork. Shake off the loose soil and remove dead leaves and stems. Wash the soil from the crown so you can see the buds clearly. Divide the clump into sections that contain several buds or shoots and healthy roots discarding any old, woody growth. Replant and water thoroughly with a root stimulator to settle the soil around the roots. Since it as been dry you may want to water the plants you are dividing the night before you plan to dig them to make your job a little easier.
CREATE A HEALTHY LAWN.
If your lawn was seeded or sodded on top of hard clay soil chances are the roots never developed more than a couple of inches deep. This means the grass will not grow very tall and it will need more water to keep it green, than if it was well rooted. Aside from redoing your entire lawn correctly there are a few steps you can take to improve your existing one. First remove any thatch buildup that is preventing air, water and fertilizer from penetrating the roots. Begin this process by raking as much of the dead grass out of your lawn as possible. If the buildup is really heavy you can rent an aerator. After you have raked or aerated apply gypsum at a rate of 10 pounds per 100 square feet. Water it in to loosen and condition the soil. The reason clay soil is so hard is that it is made up of a lot of very small soil particles. Gypsum binds the clay particles together to make larger particles and therefore more space in between them to allow water and roots to penetrate easily. In a few days add a well balanced organic fertilizer that will add good bacteria to help decompose above ground dead and decaying matter. You don’t want to add too much nitrogen (the first number of the analysis). Fish Emulsion (it stinks!), Seaweed Extract, Fox Farm Liquid Grow Big or Tiger Bloom, Granular All Purpose and Chickity Doo Doo are all good choices. You may need to repeat this entire process Spring and Fall to achieve maximum results. By continuing to use organic fertilizers and gypsum and by watering deeply you will encourage biologically active soil that promotes root development for a healthier, greener, more water efficient lawn.
PLANT OF THE MONTH:
Erysimum ‘Apricot Twist’. The wallflower that most people are familiar with is ‘Bowles Mauve’. We have had so many customers rave about it that I decided to try a new variety. ‘Apricot Twist’ will grow to at least 2’ tall and wide. The leaves are narrow, gray-green and form an evergreen mound. The lavender buds open to apricot-orange blooms in clusters of cross-shaped flowers almost continuously but most heavily in spring and fall. They are members of the Brassica family which includes broccoli and the flowers are very similar. The wallflowers are perennial but may bloom themselves to death after a few years. To prevent legginess, trim it lightly after flowering, and cut it back by half in late summer. Fertilize regularly. This fast growing perennial will take full sun or part shade, is cold hardy to 5 degrees below zero and is drought tolerant once established. This plant will be available mid-month.