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Archives for February 2, 2013

Great Big Home and Garden Show Preview – Cleveland News

CLEVELAND — While it is certainly winter outside, there’s one place in Northeast Ohio that feels like spring. 

The Great Big Home and Garden show is going on inside the I-X Center.

Flowers are in bloom in the Garden Showcase. 

It features 17 U.S. landmark-themed gardens designed by some of the area’s premier landscapers.

Frank Ungaro of Down to Earth Landscaping has a winery-inspired garden at the show.  

“We decided to pick Napa Valley as something that we could bring to Cleveland and inspired with a lot of creativity with the wine barrels, and a featured bar with the wine tasting,” Ungaro said.

Another highlight of the show is the “Idea Home.”  

It is a 4,000 sq. foot, Tuscan-style house built by Perrino Builders.

Show Manager Rosanna Hrabnicky said it is not to be missed.  

“When you walk through it, you’re going to see so many different things and enjoyable decorating ideas that are certainly not of the norm.  So, if you are looking for something different, definitely this is the home to look for,” she said.

There are more than 650 exhibitors at the show to help with any type of home remodeling or outdoor living projects.

The Great Big Home and Garden Show runs from February 2-10. 

For more information, click here.



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Article source: http://fox8.com/2013/02/01/great-big-home-and-garden-show-preview/

Auburn notes: Toomer’s Corner Oaks to be rolled one last time in April – Columbus Ledger

AUBURN, Ala. — This will be one A-Day Auburn football fans won’t soon forget.

The beginning of a new era coincides with the closing of another.

Auburn University announced The Oaks at Toomer’s Corner will be rolled one final time following the spring scrimmage April 20.

Gus Malzahn will be on the sideline for the first time as Auburn’s head coach, to conclude the Tigers’ set of spring practices. Then afterward, fans are invited to toss their toilet paper and take photographs with the time-honored oaks, which were poisoned by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke soon after the 2010 Iron Bowl.

The City of Auburn is dubbing the day a “Celebrate the Tradition” block party at Toomer’s Corner, at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue.

The trees will later be removed at a yet-to-be-determined date.

“The Oaks at Toomer’s Corner have been a part of Auburn tradition for generations,” said Debbie Shaw, Auburn University vice president for alumni affairs and executive director of the Auburn Alumni Association. “Their removal will in no way diminish the Auburn Spirit, which has grown even stronger during these past two years.”

Despite extraordinary efforts to save the oak trees, members of the university’s Tree Preservation Committee say they do not see the possibility of survival.

The university’s future landscaping plans will be unveiled on A-Day. Over the past two months, more than 10,000 fans and friends of the university provided their opinions and ideas through an online survey conducted by Auburn University and other landscape architectural firms.

“The architects are combining their expertise and experience with the terrific input from the Auburn Family to come up with a future plan that we will all be proud of,” said Dan King, assistant vice president for Auburn University Facilities Management.

To keep the tradition alive, the university and city will create structures at the site suitable for rolling after the oaks are gone. Fans will be invited to gather there as they always have following big victories or other momentous occasions.

The block party, which is co-sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association, will feature live music and a festive atmosphere.

“We want people to be upbeat about the future of this area,” Shaw said. “Rolling the corner is a uniquely Auburn tradition, and whether we roll trees or other structures, the camaraderie and sense of togetherness is part of what makes Auburn a special place.”

Information from Mike Clardy, Auburn Office of Communications and Marketing, was used in this report.

Cam speaks up

Cam Newton is taking a break from classes at Auburn, spending time in New Orleans for Super Bowl weekend.

The Charlotte Observer caught up with Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, and Newton spoke for the first time about going back to school this semester.

Newton is looking to complete his degree in sociology, which he promised his mom he’d do even after leaving Auburn a year early for the NFL. His first few days back on the Plains were hectic, with students following Newton and taking cell phone photos of the local legend.

“It’s smoothed out now. When I first got on campus, it was kind of a circus. But that’s kind of what I expected,” Newton told the Observer. “But it’s nothing but love, man. You go back and you see people’s reaction. You take a couple of pictures and you see what it does to a particular person, and you appreciate it your influence.”

Local listings

Auburn’s baseball team is two weeks away from its home opener at Plainsman Park, when the Tigers will host Maine on Feb. 15.

The SEC released its television schedule for the spring, and Auburn will be featured five times (all times ET):

• Mar. 16 — Vanderbilt at Auburn, 3:15 p.m., FSN

• Mar. 30 — Alabama at Auburn, 4 p.m., CSS

• Apr. 18 — Auburn at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU

• Apr. 19 — Auburn at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m., CSS

• May 4 — Ole Miss at Auburn, 3:15 p.m., FSN

Article source: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/02/01/2367428/auburn-notes-toomers-corner-oaks.html

The investor

James Flynn, 19

Occupation

University student

Portfolio

Includes shares in Manulife Financial, Canadian Natural Resources, BP (ADR), SNC-Lavalin Group, Royal Bank of Canada, Banco Santander Mexico SA (ADR), Procter Gamble.

The investor

James Flynn has a grasp of investing far beyond his years. His interest was first piqued at the age of 12 when his aunt gave him a subscription to Fortune magazine. In the summer after his final year of high school, most of his classmates were living it up but he completed the gruelling Canadian Securities Course. Now enrolled at university, Mr. Flynn manages his $30,000 portfolio, reads The Globe and Mail’s business section, and maintains an investing blog at jamesflynn.ca.

How he invests

“I would describe my investment approach as value-based and strongly influenced by the investing principles of Benjamin Graham and David Dodd. I primarily seek out stocks that are trading at discounts to their book value due to negative, short-term news affecting the company.” The company should also have an easy-to-understand business model and history of earnings growth.

The majority of his portfolio – as much as 90 per cent – is allocated to equities. That’s because his long-term investing horizon gives him a high tolerance for risk. “Since I invest on a 40-year horizon, the stocks I own have plenty of time to rebound from short-term shocks,” he reasons.

Best move

He invested in Bank of America when it was trading at a large discount to book value due to fears of bankruptcy. But Mr. Flynn saw it as too big to fail. The stock was sold after it rebounded nearly 100 per cent.

Worst move

Buying Research In Motion at $15 on the grounds its large cash hoard, strong subscriber base and trove of patents gave it a liquidation value higher than the market price – then selling below $10 in a panic only to see it rebound back.

Advice

The earlier one starts to invest, the better – if only to reap the benefits of compounding interest and returns.

 

Special to The Globe and Mail.

Want to share our strategies?

E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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Article source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/portrait-of-the-investor-as-a-young-man/article8122247/

Top Spring Landscaping Tips

Every year like clockwork, winter comes to a close and the cold and dreary climate gives way to the burgeoning spring season and the promise of new growth. Of course, this also signals the perfect time for a thorough spring cleaning. But this goes beyond clearing out the attic or getting rid of last season’s old clothes. The outside of the home is just as in need of some annual TLC as is the inside; no area more so than the yard or garden.

spring landscaping

There’s no better time than Spring to work on your garden. (Image © Rafael Ben-Ari – Fotolia.com)

Yes, the winter months can wreak havoc on a yard or garden and all but ruin the beautiful landscaping that defined it before the chilly weather set in. These areas can look the worse for wear after a long winter and may even appear beyond saving. But rolling up the shirtsleeves and getting to work on yard beautification is the best way for anyone – man or woman – to start anew and get into the spring spirit.

Here are some basic tips for turning a yard in recovery into a spring sensation.

Clear the debris

Winter storms can wreak havoc on a yard in the form of fallen branches and piles of leaves. The best remedy is to set aside a good chunk of time in which to clear all tree debris from the yard. Once that is taken care of, then it’s time to get down to the business of pulling the weeds that have likely cropped up during the winter months. Once this is complete, homeowners should then plan on spending 10-15 minutes one time per week maintaining a weed-free yard.

Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize

There’s no way around it, those who want to ensure a thriving lawn or garden are going to need to fertilize. That means everything: grass, flowers, shrubs – the works. The good news is that there is nothing about this process that needs to be complicated. In fact, there are a number of different fertilizers available from home-supply stores geared for a number of different purposes and a number of lawn and garden types. Terf builder is one popular option for those who want to give their lawns a fighting chance to thrive. Plus, there are organic weed killers on the market that can make the aforementioned weed hunting a breeze.

Tip: those growing food — such as herbs, fruits and vegetables — should use only organic fertilizers containing no pesticides.

Don’t shy away from mulch

It can be depressing to gaze upon a limp garden ravaged by the effects of a cold winter. But there’s no reason to lose hope because mulch can save the day. Just one layer of this stuff on a flower bed can bring the plants roaring back to life. Professional landscapers suggest applying four inches of mulch over the top soil, which will help retain moisture and prevent growth of those pesky weeds.

Tip: pull mulch away from the base of the plant, as this will help protect the bulb.

Maintain a functional irrigation system

Whether working with a complex in-ground sprinkler system or a simple garden hose, it’s best to test the equipment at the dawn of the spring season. Those with sprinklers will want to ensure the unit’s pump and tank are in good working order, as a couple winter months without use may compromise their functionality.

By following these simple guidelines, even the least green-thumbed of homeowners should be able to bring their yards and gardens back from the brink of winter extinction.

Our guest author, Jason Smith, writes for Australian Outdoor Living (AOL), a home improvement business based in Adelaide. AOL specialises in cafe blinds, roller shutters, pergolas and artificial lawn.

Article source: http://realtybiznews.com/spring-landscaping-tips/98719072/

Terrariums, dish gardens trendy again

The last time terrariums were trendy was in the 1970s, when fishbowls, lamps and even tables designed to contain plants found their way into homes.

Will Kalif remembers it well.

“I had terrariums as a teen in the ’70s,” he says, having learned how to make them in Boy Scouts.

He has created scores of them in the past several years, too, mostly as gifts.

“I’ve made one as small as inside a Tabasco bottle and a large one in a 20-gallon fish tank,” he says.

Kalif, who lives in the Boston area, is known as “Terrarium Man” on his website, which is leading the charge to help bring terrariums back into style by offering tips and sources for terrarium gardening.

According to Kalif, terrariums are beautiful, easy to care for and can last for years or decades.

“A terrarium is a mini-ecosystem, which is appealing,” he says.

Deb Karpfinger, owner of The Flower Lady florist in Wauwatosa, says she has observed the renewed interest in terrariums and dish gardens.

“They actually have been around since Victorian days, and then interest piqued again in the ’70s,” she says. “But they have been regaining popularity on the coasts and working their way to the Midwest.”

Dish gardens, which are open, and terrariums, which are covered, offer some of the same rewards as outdoor gardening and landscaping, she says, but on a much smaller scale.

“They provide a small environment to become involved in and a perfect way to garden no matter what your limitations or situation,” she says.

Make them personal

The time around, terrariums and dish gardens are being personalized in all sorts of ways.

“A seamstress could add colorful spools of thread to her indoor landscape, an artist could add small tubes of paint,” Karpfinger says. “And coral, shells or stones from a vacation are easy to include, too.”

The Flower Lady sells pre-made terrariums and dish gardens in a wide array of containers. Customers also can bring in their own container and personal tchotchkes so Karpfinger can create a personalized garden for them.

Shelly Loke, a master gardener who is plant manager at Stein Garden Gifts in Mequon, says terrariums and dish gardens are a way of bringing organic things into people’s lives.

“It’s nice to have plants close to us and to be able to interact with something that’s alive,” she says. “Not everyone can go out and garden, but anyone can have a dish garden.”

That’s true even if you live in an apartment or condo without much natural light.

“There are artificial light sources that are as simple as a full-spectrum light bulb that fits into any light fixtures,” she says. “Leave the light on for about 12 hours a day and that’s all the light the indoor garden needs.”

Such light bulbs are available at Stein’s, as are a variety of plants suitable for terrariums and dish gar dens.

“Plants that are combined should have the same water and light needs so that they can do well in the same environment,” she says.

Succulents work well in an open dish garden, whereas tropical plants that thrive in a humid environment do well in a sealed terrarium. Some people choose to create dish gardens with herbs, Loke says, some of which can be used in cooking.

She’s also a big fan of mosses.

“They’re almost like little carpets,” she says. Irish or Scotch mosses work best in an indoor environment and can be combined with other plants.

The experts suggest choosing plants that are predisposed to growing slowly and staying small. Pruning is possible as well.

Visually appealing

These indoor gardens are most visually appealing when there’s a variation in levels, from low to tall. This can be achieved both with the plants selected and the terrain of the garden.

Low plants include mosses, herb thyme and baby’s tears.

Medium plants include nerve plant and varieties of peperomia.

Taller plants include tiny bell palms, goldfish plant and some small ferns, which can resemble miniature trees.

Drainage is important, Karpfinger says, and so is watering – or overwatering, which is the bigger problem.

“If you see moisture on the glass, let it dry out and don’t water as often,” she says.

Moderate light is best, she says, because putting plants in direct sunlight in front of a window can “fry” them, unless you have succulents. Don’t fertilize the plants or they’ll grow too rapidly.

Karpfinger says this time around there are probably more choices for plants and containers, but the appeal of terrariums remains the same as in the ’70s.

“It may have been more ‘mod’ back then and now it’s more personal, but the joy of living with something natural is the same,” she says.

“So put on your elephant-leg pants, plan a fondue party and tend your terrarium!”

Will Kalif’s website is www.stormthecastle.com/terrarium/index.htm.

Article source: http://www.jsonline.com/features/homeandgarden/terrariums-dish-gardens-trendy-again-v98efit-188768601.html

Proof that gardening is good for us

Charlie Hall thinks it’s not good enough to simply tell people that gardening is a good thing to do because flowers are pretty and planting trees and shrubs makes the world more beautiful and ultimately more livable.

All of which is true. But Hall wants to prove the benefits of gardening by producing unequivocal evidence, supported by convincing research data and verifiable scientific proof.

WHO IS CHARLIE HALL?

He’s one of the most influential leaders in horticulture in North America today, famous for giving passionate, informed lectures.

An economist by training, he is a professor in the department of horticultural sciences at Texas AM University.

He has all sorts of other titles, but all you really need to know is that he is the expert everyone in the gardening industry listens to very carefully because of the detailed work he has done to nail down precise data about the benefits of gardening.

His research has unearthed compelling facts and statistics that prove being around plants makes everything better, including helping children to learn faster, improving health, reducing crime, enhancing the natural environment and greatly reducing the stress of everyday life.

I doubt you have heard of his name before today, but it is well known to all the movers and shakers in what is now known as the “green industry” – covering everything from garden centres to landscaping to the basic nitty-gritty of upkeep of parks and other community green spaces.

“You may have heard the term ‘greenwashing,’ ” he told me in a phone interview recently. “This is when a company makes a claim that it is doing something that is environmentally friendly without backing up the statement with evidence.

“The consumer is left asking, ‘What is the basis for them saying that? Where did they come up with that information?’ “

Hall says it was his desire to have facts at his fingertips rather than anecdotal experiences to back up assertions that got him to start compiling research data from a wide variety of respected sources, including many not directly connected to the horticultural industry, such as Harvard Medical School.

Over two years, he gathered more than 400 research documents showing the benefits of gardening and other aspects of the horticultural industry.

Here are just a few of his key findings:

. People are able to concentrate better in the workplace or in the home and have better memory retention when they are around plants. “Tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better with greater accuracy.”

Spending time in nature gives people an increased feeling of vitality, better energy levels and makes them feel more animated, he says.

. Children learn better when they are around plants. “Research shows that kids learn faster when they are in a green environment. Those with attention deficit disorders have longer attention spans when they are in a natural gardenlike environment as opposed to a sterile, concrete classroom,” Hall says. “You’d think it would be counter-intuitive; if you take kids to an outdoor classroom where there are all sorts of distractions, dogs barking and so on. But the opposite is true.”

. Gardening can act as therapy for people who have undergone trauma. “The act of nurturing something is a way for people to work through the issues surrounding traumatic events and improve their mental health.”

. Residents are more likely to exercise if there is a community park or landscaped area nearby. Exercise improves their health through physical fitness which can cut health care costs.

. Landscaping is one of the most cost-effective methods for changing a community. “It is a fact that neighbourhoods with beautiful parks tend to have less crime. Simply by landscaping a formerly crime-ridden park, a community can be transformed into a safe and friendly neighbourhood environment.” Hall says parks also give people a reason to come together and become a tight-knit community.

. Quality landscaping improves property values. “You get a $1.09 return on every dollar invested. It is the only home improvement that generates a greater than one dollar return for every dollar spent,” says Hall.

“Put the same dollar into a bathroom or kitchen and, according to the Home Remodelling Institute, you get 73 cents return for that dollar, but our own research shows that with every dollar put into landscaping you get $1.09 in return.”

. Businesses do better when even a little strip of landscaping is added outside their premises. “Research shows businesses sell more stuff when they have an esthetically-pleasing landscape outside. People shop longer, feel more at ease, will come long distances to shop, and are often willing to pay higher prices.”

. Beautiful parks and landscapes enable communities to reap benefits from ecotourism. “In this new green environmentally-conscious era people are becoming more interested in exploring the beauty of nature while maintaining its integrity.”

This is one reason Hall believes botanical gardens and other public gardens and green spaces should be supported without hesitation by local government. “Ecotourism is a smart way for communities to bring in revenue with relatively little cost to themselves. Walt Disney proved this to us years ago – that people will come to the swamps of Florida in the middle of summer to be in a beautiful, engaging environment.”

. Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress. “Plants sooth human beings and provide a positive way for people to channel their stress into nurturing.”

Hall’s core message boils down to this: the green industry – gardening, landscaping, the growing and selling of flowers and plants and all the rest of it – is about much more than creating “pretty environments.” It is also about other positive factors from health to air quality to job creation to community relations, spinoffs that most people never think about.

“The message that plants are more than just pretty needs to be incorporated into the marketing message of every single business in the green industry,” Hall says.

“We need to give people the facts that prove plants are not merely an indulgence, but an essential necessity if we want to live positive, productive, healthy lives.”

CALLING ALL GARDEN CLUBS

Gardening columnist Steve Whysall is compiling a list of Lower Mainland spring garden club plant sales for a special plant sales calendar to appear in early March. Please sent him the details of your sale, including date, location, start and finish time, and a contact name and number for people looking for more information. Submissions should be sent to swhysall@ vancouversun.com

swhysall@vancouversun.com

Article source: http://www.windsorstar.com/Proof+that+gardening+good/7904066/story.html

Tips for impatient Staten Island gardeners for a quicker vegetable harvest


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Many vegetables get woodier, less succulent and lose some of their sweetness as they grow more mature. Some, however, like the beets show above, new potatoes, radishes, baby carrots, zucchini, miniature cucumbers, spring peas and turnips offer up their best flavors while young.



 

Vegetable gardening is an exercise in patience. Sweet potatoes can take more than 100 days to ripen; some tomato and watermelon varieties require five months.

But there are ways to shorten the wait.

The easiest is choosing plants that taste best when harvested young.

“The one thing you will miss out on with speedy growing is bulk, but what you will get in return is layers of flavor; a sprinkle of hot and peppery micro-green radish here, a sweet and nutty, barely cooked new potato there, a garnish of cucumber-y borage flowers to finish a dish,” writes Mark Diacono in the new “The Speedy Vegetable Garden” (Timber Press). “These are the crops that will mark out your cooking as distinctly and unquestionably homegrown.”

Timing is everything.

“Be slow to harvest and you’ll miss their best moments,” says Diacono, who does his gardening on a 17-acre plot in Devon, England. “These are fresh, lively and zingy flavors, flavors that can either fade or become bitter and overly strong as the plant grows on toward maturity.” 

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Many plants — notably fruits — are genetically wired for late development.

“Tomatoes, strawberries and apples all want to be left on the plant until they are fully ripe to get the fullest, lushest flavors out of them,” Diacono says. “Vegetables are a little different. Many get woodier, less succulent and lower in sweetness as they grow more mature, so really are at their loveliest picked young.”

That would include new potatoes, radishes, baby carrots, zucchini, miniature cucumbers, spring peas, turnips and beets.

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves can be clipped in as little as 21 days. Sprouted seeds (mung beans, mustard, lentils) can become table fare in just three days.

Check the maturity dates on seed packets as you shop. Heirloom tomatoes take 100 days or more to develop, while cherry tomatoes need only about 65 days.

The same goes for squash. Winter squash (acorn, butternut) generally require 110 days before they are kitchen-ready. Summer squash (crookneck, zucchini), by comparison, can be eaten in 55 days or less. 


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Heirloom tomatoes, rear, can take more than 100 days to ripen, while the smaller cherry tomatoes, foreground, need only 65 days. Grow both varieties to stagger the dates of your harvest.


 

JUMPSTART THE SEASON

There are many ways to jumpstart the growing season so you can be harvesting a meal while other gardeners are just beginning to turn the ground. Among them:

*Choose the warmest site possible if you’re planting early. “Even a small change in temperature can make a difference during spring and fall frosts,” says Jo Ann Robbins, an extension educator with the University of Idaho.

*Use enclosures. Covering plants moderates temperature, wind and humidity. “Air and soil temperatures are warmer, and the cover will conserve heat radiation from the soil during the night,” Robbins says in a fact sheet.

*Start vegetable plants inside from seed, and transplant them eventually into the garden. “Research shows the older the transplants, the better they will resist cold weather,” Robbins says.

*Warm the soil early. “Throw a piece of black or clear polyethylene over the soil in early spring, pin it down with tent pegs or bricks, and wait,” Diacono says. “The sun will warm it and excessive water will be kept off, leaving it in a fantastically workable state a few weeks later and conducive to quick plant growth.” 

Online:

For more about plant maturity dates, see this North Dakota State University fact sheet:

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h912.pdf 

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.net

Article source: http://www.silive.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2013/02/impatient_gardener_tips_for_a.html

Gardening Tips: Controlling wild garlic in the lawn


Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 10:53 am


Gardening Tips: Controlling wild garlic in the lawn

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald

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Most lawns this time of year are almost entirely brown due to winter dormancy.

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Article source: http://www.rrdailyherald.com/opinion/columns/gardening-tips-controlling-wild-garlic-in-the-lawn/article_991d0d82-6c87-11e2-af95-001a4bcf887a.html

Gardening Tips: How to eliminate moss growth is determined by the cause

Q: I have moss growing in my yard. What do I need to do to get grass to grow? I did a soil test three years ago, and everything was normal.

— Jim House

A: Moss normally develops when soil is compacted, wet or in too much shade. Soil with improper pH also invites moss growth. Determining which condition is causing the problem is the first step toward eliminating it.

Have your soil tested again to see if the nutrient content and pH level have changed since your last test three years ago. If the soil is deficient in nutrient content or needs lime, the test report will indicate how much fertilizer and lime to apply and when to apply it.

Moss growth usually starts in early winter and reaches its peak in early spring. This growth is caused by excessive rainfall. Moss growth normally declines in summer as conditions become drier and the grass growth increases. In shady areas, the moss may continue to grow through the summer. Here are some ways that moss can be reduced in the lawn:

Maintain proper soil ph. Most lawns should have a soil pH between 6.0-6.5.

Apply fertilizer and lime according to soil test recommendations.

Increase air movement and light penetration to the soil. This can be done by pruning the lower limbs of trees.

Improve soil drainage by adding organic matter to the soil.

Booker T. Leigh is the extension director at the Tipton County Extension office. E-mail your gardening questions to bleigh1@utk.edu. Include your name and the area where you live. For more gardening information call the Tipton County Extension office at 901-476-0123 or the Shelby County Extension office at 901-752-1207.

Article source: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2013/feb/01/gardening-tips-how-to-eliminate-moss-growth-is/

Gardening with the masters: Tips for planting and gardening in February

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ORNAMENTALS * This is a great time to plant bare root roses. Select a quality plant with at least 3 to5 strong canes. * Prune hybrid tea roses now, removing old canes and lowering plant to a height of 12-15”. To care for rose bushes now, apply a fertilizer heavy in potassium (K). Prune rose canes back to about 6-10”. Apply a drop of white glue to the end of fresh cut canes to prevent borers. Apply a dormant spray of lime -sulfur and dormant oil before active growth appears. Clean up rose beds, discard old foliage, pieces of canes, and remove old mulch and weeds. Re‐apply a fresh layer of mulch to rose beds. * Winter is a good time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs and shrubs that don’t bloom in the spring. It allows you to view the trunk and branches when making your cuts. * Change plant light bulbs over seedlings, as older bulbs do not give off as much light. * Continue to fertilize pansies and other winter annuals with fertilizer high in nitrate nitrogen. * Prune clumps of ornamental grass before new growth appears. Tie large clumps with rope; cut with a hedge trimmer. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES * Remember that vegetable seeds have a short life and usually will not be good after a year or two. This includes sweet corn, onion, okra, beans, parsnip, and peppers. * Consider the family vacation when planning your garden. Choose planting dates and varieties so your garden won’t be ready for a full harvest while you are away. * Peaches grow best when maintained with an open center (no central leader). Keep 3 or 4 strong, scaffold branches evenly distributed around the trunk. Limbs that branch out at a 60° angle are preferred. Spreaders can be used to widen narrow crotch angles. * Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins when temps maintain at 45°. For disease and insect control, cut out dead wood and dispose of the prunings. Disinfect pruners after each cut. * Before working an area in the garden for early spring planting, check the soil. It should be dry enough to crumble in your hands, so that you don’t compact the soil while working it. * Don’t start your vegetable plants indoors too early. Six weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for the fast growing species such as cabbage. Eight weeks allows enough time for the slow growing types such as tomatoes and peppers. MISCELLANEOUS * Handle seed packets with care. Rubbing the outside to determine how many seeds are inside can break the protective seed coats, thereby reducing germination. * To make old hay and manure weed‐free, spread on the soil in late winter, water well, and cover with black plastic. Weed seeds will sprout after a few days or warm weather, and then will be killed by frost and lack of daylight. * Clean and disinfect clay pots by soaking them in a solution of 1 part liquid bleach and 10 parts water. Scrub with a stiff brush. Rinse thoroughly to remove all bleach residue. This will have your containers ready to plant with spring annuals.

Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee or by contacting the Cherokee County Extension Office at 100 North St., Suite G21 in Canton at (770) 479-0418. The Georgia Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Article source: http://cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/21583309/article-Gardening-with-the-masters--Tips-for-planting-and-gardening-in-February?instance=special%20_coverage_right_column