Garden Tips – February

Ice and Snow and cold

  • So far, we have experienced one of the lowest winter snow accumulations, but we still have two months of possible snowfall. If we get enough snow to weigh down branches, remove it by using a broom underneath to repeatedly but gently lift the branches. If branches are weighted by ice, allow the sun and temperature to melt the ice to avoid snapping the branches. It may take a while for the branches to recover, but they will.
  • Open coldframes when the temperature is over 45 degrees and close at night.

Garden 

  • Look for ‘February Gold’ daffodil to emerge by mid-month, along with other early blooming spring bulbs.
      • When a freeze is predicted, cover with a loose layer of leaves or a light-weight sheet overnight.
      • Pull back matted leaf mulch to check on spring bulbs. If its foliage is white to pale, remove the leaves to expose the new foliage to the sun.
  • Cut back last year’s perennial stems.
  • Remove ivy from brick structures as it damages the mortar. Repair trellises and other support structures.
  • ROSES: Order bare-root roses to plant mid-March to mid-April. Add 3” woodchip mulch to roses to keep the soil warm.

Houseplants

  • Take cutting of geraniums for planting in May. Continue to mist and check for insects.
  • Cut back poinsettias to 4-6”.

Trees

  • Order northern-grown deciduous and evergreen plants to guarantee hardiness. Plant when the ground is workable.

Vegetables

  • Thomas Jefferson’s initial planting of English peas was February 1, with harvest mid-May. Successive seeding gave him peas to mid-July.
  • To know when to seed, check the seed packet that notes the number of days from seeding to planting out. Count back from mid-April, our last average frost date, to determine when to plant indoors.
  • Mid-February, plant spinach.

GARDEN TIP

When using a potting soil that contains sphagnum moss, wear gloves or wash your hands often, as the moss carries a fungal disease that enters the skin through cuts and scratches.

Let’s Grow! How clubs increase their membership

‘Let’s Grow!’ is the theme for this administration, and we have grown!  GCKY has 15 clubs that have grown in membership over the previous year and we have gained a new club!

Some of the clubs have shared why their club has increased in membership.

  • A few new members have come from inquiries on our GCKY website and then local clubs reaching out to them.
  • No doubt word of mouth about the programs and activities is one of the best ways to gain members.
  • Invite potential members and then follow up repeatedly with invitations to meetings by e-mails or calls.
  • Club meeting attendance has even improved when current members have been contacted as well.
  • By placing information in local papers about meetings, activities, and emphasizing that the meetings are open to everyone is another good way to get potential members.
  • Having a flower show in the district brought in two new members who were interested in entering the flower show with their designs…they loved floral arranging.
  • Another new member wants to help their club with a webpage.

Our federated clubs have so much to offer!  There is a ‘hook’ for many potential members.  We need to keep letting everyone know about us and how we can impact our communities in such positive ways!

Congratulations to these clubs who increased their membership!

  • Audubon District
    • Gateway GC
  • Blue Grass District
    • Boone Co. GC
    • Gardenside Green Thumb GC
  • Dogwood District
    • Audubon Park GC
    • Beechmont GC
    • GC of Elizabethtown
    • Rambler GC
    • Warren East GC
  • Limestone District
    • Fleming Co GC
    • Four Seasons GC
    • Millersburg GC
    • Paintsville GC
  • Mountain Laurel District
    • Green Thumbs GC
    • Middlesborough GC
    • Rockcastle GC
    • Appalachian Roots GC (new club!)

Garden Tips – Winter Work

Outside in the Garden

  • Neaten up the garden and edge beds.
  • Rake soil and scatter collected seeds.
  • Make notes as to plants to replace and areas to fill in this spring.
  • Place pines and other evergreens prunings (except holly that dries prickly) on beds to protect plants and give a cleaner look.
  • If fully dormant and in the wrong place, roses may be transplanted through January, if the ground is not wet or frozen and temperature above 32 degrees. Cut canes to 3-4 feet, pre-dig the new site, plant and mound 8-12 inches around the base. Cut back rose canes to prevent whipping, then mulch.

Houseplants

Fiddle Leaf Fig is a great architectural addition to any style home. The tropical plant requires little attention, loves our warm homes, bright light, water when the top layer of soil is dry, and fed (10-4-6) during the growing season (March through October). It is vulnerable to the usual houseplant pests. At first sign, wipe the waxy leaves with1/2 teaspoon to 1-gallon water mix, and to clean the leaves occasionally. Fertilize miniature roses in bloom monthly with 20-20-20.

Trees and Shrubs

Location! Trees and shrubs grow. Take into consideration the maximum height and width when planting. Always read the planting label for dimensions as well as other environmental requirements. Do not plant anything wider than the strip between the sidewalk and street, nor plants under power lines that will reach 15 feet tall. Consider line-of-sight when planting either side of the drive and the corner. Plant 10-15 feet from the street depending on the maintained or mature size of the plants.

In winter, the soil is often workable enough to pull or dig seedlings and saplings under trees and shrubs. Repot or transplant useful ones, winter over by mulching with leaves and securing with bird netting. In the spring, share with friends.

Garden Tips – November

 “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” ~ Alfred Austin, English poet.

We are in that awkward transition time of year when it is often too early and too late to do chores. Take one day at a time and hope for the best. Generally, nature is forgiving.

  • Garden – Dig summer bulbs before the ground freezes. The moon phase this weekend makes it a good time to sow bachelor buttons, calendula, nicotiana, and sweet alyssum.
  • Take advantage of end-of-the-season sales. For a quick and easy compost bin, connect pallets to form a three-sided box.
  • House plants – Check new houseplants and those recently returned from outdoors, for emerging insects. Draw water the night before using. Quart milk jugs make good watering cans. Start forcing poinsettia using nature light as it does not like artificial. Decorate a door by hanging a straw wreath to which has been added dried dill, valerian, rue(wear gloves when handling), and other materials from your yard. Do not hang wreaths that include berried branches on doors as they attract birds and a mess.
  • Trees – Wrap young tree trunks with tree guard(paper or other protective material) to create a shield from winter winds, freeze/thaw, and male deer rubbing their antlers against the trunk and branches. Piled branches around small trees will discourage deer from getting close to the trees.
  • Vegetables – When beds are leaned, place a thin layer of chopped leaves on top. Cover with black plastic or tarp that will block light and kill weeds over-winter. Fasten down with tent stakes, wood boards, or bricks to hold in place.
  • Pets – Protect pets on Halloween. Keep them inside or in a safe kennel. Secure chocolate in containers as it is lethal to dogs.

October Things to do in Your Garden

  • Patron of Gardeners – October 2nd is is St Francis of Assisi Day, known for his love of animals and nature.
  • 15 Minute Gardening – Label garden hoses “Not Potable”, since the PVC stabilizer can leach into the water. Potable are available from garden stores and on-line.
  • Water Early and Deep – Always water early morning to let foliage dry off before the sun reaches the plant. Water beads will act as a magnifying glass, burning the foliage. Soil should be watered one inch a week or when the soil is dry more than the top inch.  To check the depth, use a spade to take a narrow plug. Slow water to allow for absorption and not run-off.
  • Wedding- Pull or dig weeds making sure all of the root system is removed.
  • Saving Seeds – Save seed from your favorite annuals except hybrid varieties that will not come true or are sterile. Seed packets marked F1, are hybrids.
  • Spacing Bulbs – For a naturalized planting of bulbs, determine the area to be planted, throw bulbs them over your back, and plant where they landed.
  • Caring for dried flowers – Use spray lacquer or hair spray on dried flower to prevent shattering and as a primer before spray painting. Revive cut hydrangeas by plunging them head-first into water, also stems if possible, for about an hour.
  • Trees and shrubs – Rake walnuts, sweet gum, buckeye and Kentucky Coffee(our Heritage Tree) seeds before mowing as they can dull mower blades and can be a dangerous projective. The Whitehaven Welcome Center will gladly receive your buckeye seeds and Coffee tree pods to share with visitors who enjoy receiving both.
  • Vegetables
    • Separate grocery-purchased garlic cloves that have sprouted, pot up, and snip new growth for cooking.
    • For fried green tomatoes, use only hard green ones without any blush. Those that show color tend to get too soft.
  • Fish Tank Fertilizer – Save water from cleaning the fish tank to fertilize the garden.

President’s Project – Appalachian Wildlife Center

In Bell County in the Mountain Laurel District of The Garden Club of Kentucky there is a 12,000-acre tract of land that is being developed for an elk preserve by The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation. This preserve, which will be developed on abandoned coal strip mine property, will have a visitor’s center, small lake, restaurant, petting zoo and elk viewing tours as well as historical displays of the area’s mining on this land. These acres of old strip mine property that surround the visitor’s center will be reclaimed and planted to create the prairie necessary for the elk. This area is isolated and free from pesticide overspray. Several rare migratory birds have been sighted in the preserve that depend on feeding from our native seeds and berries along their journey. There are bear, fox, bobcats and other small mammals living on the property.

For my special project, our garden club members will collaborate with The Appalachian Wildlife Center to develop several acres of native habitat near the visitor’s center. We would provide seed and help develop plans for fields of native wildflowers and grasses that would provide food and shelter for many birds, small mammals, insects and other creatures.

This area and its surrounds would need to include a covered outdoor classroom and walking trails for students and other visitors to the preserve.

I feel that my project would be an educational tool that would help all visitors learn how important native plants are to the protection and continuation of all native life around us.

President’s Project: KY Highway Right-of-Ways

Native Plants on Highway Right-of-Ways and Public Space in KY

There have been some efforts made in Kentucky to plant small plots of native plants for our pollinators in Monarch Way Stations, in our state parks and on our highway right-of-way.

The Kentucky Transportation cabinet has approximately 200,000 acres of right-of-way. Of that, it maintains about 100,000 acres with mowing, spraying, re-seeding, etc. In addition, our counties maintain other roads that contain additional acreage that are maintained.

Our members are asked to work with local government agencies to develop areas that are planted with native plants. This will increase the native plants on our highway properties and help eliminate invasive species that threaten the native plants.

See President’s Award #2

Garden Tips for September

  • Deep water plants in preparation for winter. Despite what it seems, plants continue to grow their roots even during the coldest winter.
  • 15 Minute gardening – Write out a weekly plan of what needs to be done and divide into daily chores. Make a list of tools and supplies, adding what is needed to the shopping list. Having all supplies at hand, saves time and frustration.
  • Garden – While the soil is soft, pull weeds before they go to seed. Grab them at soil level and roll you hand away from the weed. It is easier and more root comes out than pulling straight up.
    • Pull dried daylily stems.
    • Pot up spring bulbs in soil to force for holiday bloom.
    • Layer daffodil, tulip and top with crocus and muscari.
    • Sow hardy annuals and transplant tender biennials.
  • Lawn – Remove thatch. Seed areas that need repair before mid- to late month. Check lawnmower blades for sharpness. The more turgid the leaf blades, the duller they will make the mower blades.
  • Trees – Select locations for fall tree planting in October. Consider power lines location.
    • Plant shrubs (mature size up to 10 feet) 10 feet from the power line. Magnolia soulangeana “Ann” is a small shrub that has bloomed all summer.
    •  Small trees(mature size under 30 feet) plant at least 15 feet from power lines.
    • Medium trees (30-50 feet) plant 35 feet away
    • tall trees, at least 45 feet.
  • Prune crape myrtle whose flowers have gone to seed and cut suckers from the base of the tree. Wait to trim trees that have sent out new growth thinking it is mid-summer, until they go dormant. Pick of fallen fruit to avoiding tripping or creating projectiles when mowing.
  • Vegetable – Work organic matter into vacant spaces: compost, aged manure, rotted straw or chopped leaves. Work 10-10-10 granular fertilizer into the soil and plant leaf lettuce, radish, spinach and turnip greens until mid-month. Reduce growth of perennial herbs by not fertilizing, so that fertilizer forced new-growth is not killed by frost.

Garden Tips for August

  • Compost – Composting container size depends on the space you have available. It can be as small as a sweater plastic box to a series of bins similar to those at the Arboretum. For more information request UK Extension Service pamphlet HO-75 or google Home Composting: A Guide to Managing Yard Waste to download it.  Cornell University: cwmi.css.cornell.edu, go to Composting(bottom of the page), Home Composting.
  • Garden – Continue to spray roses for black spot and powdery mildew. Bag black spot foliage on the plant and soil and destroy. Powdery mildew on lilacs not harm but looks bad. Control it with rose fungicide. Cut Liatris, to enjoy now and later as dried material for fall wreaths. Remove most of the foliage and place in a container without water. Order lilies and plant as soon as they arrive.
  • Pour left-over coffee(without cream, milk, or sugar, and unflavored) around acidic plants to add nitrogen to the plants. Dilute it if using it to water acid-loving houseplants to prevent build-up of acid. Do not water more than once a week.
  • Lawn – Dig dried patches for grubs. If more than ten per square foot are found, treat with a fast- acting insecticide. If your leaf blower needs replacing, purchase one that also vacuums and mulches the leaves.
  • Trees and shrubs – Prune out or hand pick bagworms. By now insecticides are not effective.
  • Plant evergreens. Before planting trees and shrubs, fill the hole with water, and saturate the plant’s root ball. Once the hole has drained, plant so that the root ball is level with the ground. If your automatic irrigation system or the soil is slow to drain, plant slightly higher than the ground level. Mulch, but no more than three inches and three inches from the trunk.
  • Vegetables – Compost or till under spent vegetable plants. For larger gourds, but no more, pinch the growing tips when fruit is set. Continue planting seed directly in the ground for a fall harvest. Dry onions for two weeks before storing.

Things to Do in Your Garden – July

Garden – Continue to deadhead flowers. Snap daylily spent blooms late afternoon or evening so that you will wake up to a neat garden. Recycle spent bloom into the compost. Herbicide sprays drift even on calm days. Apply weed killer by using a painter’s trim roller. Porous plant containers dry faster than plastic and may need watering more than once a day.

Hummingbirds – Change feeder sugar water every three days during the summer, using white cane sugar (Domino or C&H), only. Hummers do not like beet sugar. The Hummingbird Society states, “Do not use any other sugar – not turinado(golden-colored raw sugar), raw, powdered(it contains starch) brown, or organic – and never use honey or artificial sweeteners. Spring water is preferred, but most tap water is acceptable.” Honey produces a fungus that clogs their throats resulting in death.

Monarchs – Whether you raise Monarchs in container to release, or observe them in your garden inspect their caterpillars for the tachinid fly eggs. The yellowish mass on their backs will eventually kill them. To destroy the eggs, Monarch Butterfly Garden recommends rinsing the caterpillars and then gently rubbing off the eggs. It will not harm the caterpillars.

Trees – Inspect trees for breakage, splitting and cracks from high winds and rains. Cut damaged into the healthy, solid wood, or back to the tree collar. The collar is a series of rings found where limbs grow from the trunk. The collar cells will scab over the cut. Do not cut into it or flush with the trunk. Painting or other artificial treatment will seal in insects and disease.

Trees that have lost half of their limbs should be removed.

Check for tree borers that appear in spring and summer. Insecticide treatment timing is critical as larvae enter the tree, 10-14 days after hatching treatment is ineffectual. Indications are frass(sawdust), round holes in the bark, and tree limbs dying from the base upwards.