Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tips For The Northern Gardeners

By Keith Markensen

During September, narcissus and many of the small flowering bulbs, such as snowdrop, crocus, grape hyacinth, and so on, should be planted. If you plan to naturalize daffodils, plant the bulbs in drifts. Make the holes at least 5 inches deep with a grub hoe or spade; then place a bulb in each hole, replace the soil and sod, and tamp it down with your feet.

Small bulbs are more easily planted if a light crowbar is used to make the holes. First make all the holes, or all the holes in one section, 6 to 9 inches deep. Have on hand some finely screened good soil to which bonemeal has been added"a 5-inch potful to each bushel of soil. Partly fill the holes with this soil and then tamp it down with a stick until the hole is 3 or 4 inches deep. Place a bulb in each hole and then cover with more screened soil and pack it down.

For lilies to be planted in the garden, make the holes 6 to 8 inches deep and put in a handful of sand. The bulb should rest on this sand. There are many lilies suited to fall planting. To name a few: regale, henryi, tigrinum, hansoni, auratum, speciosum rubrum, speciosum album and, of course, the favorite candidum or Madonna lily. If lilies arrive too late for fall planting, I pot them up and plunge them in a coldframe for planting the following spring.

Tree Moving

All evergreens and all deciduous trees and shrubs, with the exception of magnolias, can be moved now. The magnolias move best in the spring while in flower.

Begin tree moving by digging a trench around the tree or shrub, the distance from the trench to the tree being governed by the size of the tree and the amount of fibrous root to be considered. Dig the trench to the bottom of the root system, which will be anywhere from 12 to 18 inches down; then dig underneath to cut away as many tap roots as possible.

By using a garden fork the ball can be reduced in size without injuring the outer roots. Next the ball should be bound in burlap to protect it while in the process of moving. Most deciduous trees up to 4 inches in caliper can be moved without a ball, but with as many roots as possible. When moved without a ball it pays to cut the tree top back at least one-third to one-half.

When planting, with or without a ball, be sure to use plenty of water to puddle the soil around the roots, and water frequently and generously until frost takes over. Tall trees require staking after being moved, as a rule with wire and three stakes. Old pieces of hose on the wire where it goes around the tree will prevent injury. After putting the wires on the tree, drive in the stakes to tighten the wires. If the tree is small, a stake driven in alongside and tied, not too tightly, to the tree with soft string will do the trick. Too tight a tie will cut the tree.

If the new location does not provide good soil it is well to move in some good soil for around the roots. It will help give the tree a good start.

Preparations against frost. In late September frost is quite a problem. Better get all the tender pot and tub plants moved in to a frostproof building. The hydrangea plants, however, ripen better if they have a light frost before being stored: To make certain of having early flowering chrysanthemums cover them with burlap. In some favored places, near salt water or within the limits of a large city, it is possible to flower chysanthemums without protection, but if your garden lies in a valley that is a frost pocket, as mine does, covering must be quite thorough.

Lawns. When the grass in the new lawn is 3 to 4 inches high, go over it with a light mower, ordinary lawn sprinkler systems or even underground lawn sprinkler systems, and cut it back to about 1-1/2 inches. If it is not cut it mats and starts to rot.

Harvesting potatoes. All potatoes should be dug this month for storage. After digging, lay them out in a dry, dark, airy place for two or three days to dry them out, and to allow the skins to harden. After this put them; in the storage bin. It should be about 40 degrees. Do not expose them to much light at any time or they will turn green and will not be edible.

Gladiolus. Lift the gladiolus corms when the tops turn yellow, and allow the tops to ripen before cutting them off. An airy shed it best for this job. When the tops are dry, cut off the stem but leave on the sheath that is over the bulb. Store the bulbs in a cool airy cellar and during the winter give them a thorough dusting with an insecticide to kill any hibernating thrips.

Winter cover crop. As each section of the garden becomes vacant, dig it over and sow a crop of winter rye. Rye puts life into the soil. It has a strong fibrous root system that binds light soil and breaks down heavy soil, and it is an excellent soil conditioner.

If rye is not to be sown, then clean out the old crops, dig over the section and leave it in as rough a condition as possible so that the winter frost and snow can penetrate and help condition the soil.

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