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Preview: Gardening Q & A

Gardening with George Weigel

Answers to your gardening questions and other tips by George Weigel.

Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:39:26 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017

11 of the most important gardening tips from the masters

Sat, 28 Jan 2017 13:00:14 UTC


Don't wing it with trial and error in the garden again this year. Penn State Master Gardeners have 800 pages of advice to help you avoid trouble. You could wing it again this year in the garden, doing the trial-and-error thing and becoming a better gardener via lessons from what ends up in the compost pile. Or you could short-cut your way to gardening success by taking advantage of what the masters already know - Penn State Master Gardeners, that is. Master Gardeners are experienced gardeners who get detailed Penn State training in exchange for donating at least 20 hours a year helping Penn State Extension help the gardening public. All Pennsylvania counties have a cadre of these helpful advisors, who provide services such as answering questions at clinics and by phone, tending public educational gardens, and giving gardening talks. The program's website lists county-by-county contact information. The core of Master Gardeners' training is 40 hours of classroom instruction and a 6-pound, 808-page manual that covers just about everything you'd need to know about gardening - including the "challenges" that go along with it. Penn State just published a hardback version of the "Penn State Extension Master Gardener Manual" that anyone can buy for $75 (plus shipping) either online through the university's publications department or by calling the department at 877-345-0691. Here's a gleaning of some of the most important Master Gardener tips from that gargantuan effort: When to prune shrubs? The best time to prune flowering shrubs depends on when the shrub blooms. Shrubs that bloom in spring should be pruned after they flower (i.e. so you don't cut off the buds before they open) while ones that bloom on wood produced in the current year (summer to early-fall bloomers) can be pruned before growth starts in spring. Picking off disease leaves is one way to reduce future disease.George Weigel  Preventing disease Good garden "sanitation" goes a long way in heading off disease. Techniques includes raking and discarding diseased fallen leaves; removing infected plants; burning diseased debris; pruning off diseased branches, and cleaning soil and sap from tools. Low-care yard tips Ways to cut maintenance in the landscape: 1.) reduce lawn size in favor of low groundcover plants; 2.) use paving in high-traffic areas; 3.) lay brick or concrete strips along planted beds to eliminate edging work; 4.) use fences or walls for screening instead of hedges; 5.) look to trees and shrubs for color instead of extensive flower beds; 6.) use mulch to control weeds and lower watering needs, and 7.) pick low-care plants in the first place, leaning toward native species. A brick edging like this can reduce trimming work.George Weigel  Invasive plants Among plants that people still plant that the manual lists as invasive are Japanese barberry, burning bush, border and common privet, five species of non-native honeysuckles, Japanese spirea, Norway maple, autumn and Russian olive, empress tree, Siberian elm, five-leaf akebia and porcelain berry. On watering the lawn... Watering lightly every day or two is detrimental to the lawn, since it encourages shallow rooting and makes the lawn more prone to bug and disease attack and compaction from foot traffic. A better watering game plan is to water more deeply less often, ideally when the grass signals it needs water by showing signs of wilting (i.e. by arching over instead of standing more erect and leaving footprints after you walk on it). Light and veggies Fruiting veggies such as tomatoes and peppers do best with at least 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight a day, but most root and leaf crops do reasonably well even when in shade for half of a day. Just about all edibles can be grown in containers as well, although they'll need more regular watering. Free soil amendment If your soil is too acidic, you could buy lime or you could use free wood ashes from the fireplace. Wood ashes also are a good source of potassium (one of t[...]

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Best new trees and shrubs for your yard in 2017

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:30:09 UTC


A new shrink-sized viburnum, a pink-blooming compact vitex, and even more interesting new hydrangeas are coming soon to a nursery near you. Here's a look at those and other top new trees and shrubs debuting this year.