Selecting Garden Tools
Did you by chance prune your grape vines or maple trees within the last month or so and notice the resultant bleeding? Fortunately, although this seems to be a tremendous worry to us, it really doesn’t harm the plants at all. Just let them bleed, it will stop in time. There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it, as you will quickly discover if you ever try. Next year prune them in December or January so they have a chance to heal over.
Do you have any hedges that worry you because they are not compact and as much of a screen as you wish? Now is the time to do something about it. Unfortunately hedges that are open from the bottom from lack of sufficient branches will seldom get more compact by pruning only at the top. The only satisfactory way to handle deciduous shrubs is to cut them within an inch or two of the ground. This should be done immediately.
To help along the new growth, apply any complete commercial fertilizer in a strip two feet wide on both sides of the hedge using four pounds for each 25 feet of hedge.
As the new growth starts, prune it lightly after every four to six inches of growth to get as much branching as possible near the ground.
Hedges that are too tall but otherwise satisfactory can be pruned back to the desired height. It is a good idea to cut them six inches to a foot lower than you wish them to be to allow for the new growth. The sooner this pruning is done, the more chance there is of the new buds developing just back of the points where the branches are cut.
Yew hedges that are too large can be pruned very severely and even though there is very little green left back of them they will develop new buds and fill in.
However, other evergreens such as hemlocks, spruces, pines and even arbor-vitaes can only be cut back to the point where there is enough green left back of the cut to produce new growth. They will seldom develop new buds on the old branches. This is why the point is always reached sooner or later where hedges of these evergreens have to be taken out and replaced.
For those who are buying new garden tools, especially if they are new gardeners, it will be well to check with experienced gardeners to find out what’s good and what isn’t. Every year there is a crop of new kinds of tools, but surprisingly few of them are still on the market a few years later. It’s still pretty hard to beat the conventional tools that we have been using through the years. Personally I still like a round pointed shovel with a short handle with a D on the end for handling soil and most digging. For planting and transplanting smaller plants I like a small spade with a blade only about six inches wide and a foot in length. They are light and easy to handle.
For a trowel, either aluminum or steel is best with a short shank rather than some of the ungainly long shanked ones that are so often sold. If you want a shovel, use a shovel and not a long trowel. Although many recommend a spading fork, mine is hanging in the garage unused year after year. A steel bow rake is still handy for leveling soil and digging up clods and removing stones. The only other long handled tool that’s really convenient is a four tine pitch fork for handling trash and leaves.
If you have a vegetable garden you will probably be using a hoe, but in the flower garden, mulching should practically do away with the need of a hoe either the little narrow bladed onion hoe or the conventional hoe. And if you have to use a pick mattock to your soil, it’s an indication that you need tremendous amounts of organic matter and possibly coal ashes to loosen it so that it can be shoveled or spaded without a pick. Whatever tool you may buy, get the very best quality for they should be practically a life time investment.
Unless you are a rose specialist that grows 25 or more varieties, you will do best to stick to the standard dozen varieties offered by the average rose nursery. These are usually the best growers and best bloomers. Dormant roses can be planted most places throughout this month, but once the growth is started on outdoor roses, it’s better to use potted plants than dormant ones.
Your Own Agricultural Experiment station may have recommendations as for the best varieties for your state. Unfortunately these recommendations will not always agree with the claims for many of the new varieties. Because of the variations from state to state, I hesitate recommending specific varieties.
It seems that by now everybody should know how to fertilize their lawn, landscape and garden for it’s so easy and so simple with the modern commercial fertilizers. Now is a good time to fertilize every square inch of your place, using any complete commercial fertilizer. It may have an analysis of 4-12-4, 5-10-5, 5-10-10, 6-10-4, or 4-12-8. So far as we know there is no great difference between one and the other as far as the plants are concerned. It is perfectly safe to use three to four pounds for every 100 square feet of soil surface, remembering that the fertilizer goes straight down through the soil and never sideways. This means that every square inch will get its few drops.
Overdoses can of course kill the plants, but at the above rates it is safe and if you don’t tell the lawn, you can use a rose fertilizer on it and vice versa. And a vegetable fertilizer can be used in the flower garden and vice versa – the main thing is to get it on as soon as possible if you haven`t already done so this year. Fortunately every state requires that the analysis of the fertilizer be printed on the package showing percentage of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potash it contains.
There are so many fascinating annual flowers that have been listed in the catalogs for years, and yet all too few people are suffciently adventuresome to try them. Some that will give you a little something different, and yet not difficult to grow are the tassel flower (cacalia), calliopsis, candytuft, annual canterbury bells, clarkia, Chinese forget-me-not (cynoglossum) , annual pinks (Dianthus) such as haddemis and Zaciniatus, African daisy (dimorphotheca), annual gaillardia, godetia, cupflower (nierembergia), annual phlox, blue salvia (Salvia farinacea), flowering tobacco (nicotiana), nemesia, scabiosa. You will find these listed in all the larger seed catalogs as well as being on the seed racks in the seed stores.
Annual vines give summer color that climbing roses and a lot of other vines do not. In fact it is sometimes fun to let a single heavenly blue morning glory climb up into your climbing roses for mid-summer bloom. Some of the vines that you may be interested in trying out are the current popular varieties of morning glories. Other vines include the hyacinth bean, scarlet runner bean, cardinal climber, cypress vine, balsam apple and balsam pear. For a smaller vine better for hanging down than climbing, try thunbergia.
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