“How to” for Lawns – Mowing
Garden Tips
0 Comments

“How to” for Lawns – Mowing

Key Mowing Factors To Consider

How often you mow your lawn will depend on a number of factors. Firstly how much time you have to devote to your lawn’s maintenance. How fast your lawn grows, and this in turn will depend on whether you fertilise it regularly and whether it receives adequate water and sunlight. Normally, lawns should be mowed at least one a fortnight to keep them in check, so to speak.

One of the worst things you can do for a lawn and a big misconception is that you can or should mow your lawn very short in order to reduce the number of times you have to mow it. Grass generally will do much better when mowed at a higher setting. This is especially the case in the summer months, where short grass can often be burnt by the sun otherwise.

It is suggested that you should never be cutting or trimming off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass in a mowing session. If you have let your lawn go and it is far too long, it is recommended that you firstly mow it at a longer cut and then remow it at a slightly lower setting.

Other recommendations for mowing a perfect lawn

If it is still too long, then you can go over it again in a couple of days time. Although this is time consuming it is the preferred method for caring for your lawn. Needless to say like having your hair cut, you should maintain your equipment. In this case make sure your mower blades are sharp and in good condition.

GardenEaze recommend you remove any stone or other obstructions from the lawn before mowing to avoid any damage to the mower or lawn as these can damage the cutting blades.

  • Do mow in different directions, it does not matter which way – whether it is diagonal, horizontal, or vertically each time you mow your lawn. This prevents the grass blades from curving in a particular direction after numerous cuts.
  • It is well known that you should never mow when your lawn is still wet. The reason for this, however, is not so well known. There are actually two reasons for this. Firstly, you will not be cutting your lawn evenly and when it dries may be a lot longer than expected. Secondly, you can often cause fungus to establish itself.
  • For the lawn bowl look of a flatten smooth lawn larger lawn rollers can be purchased. To use these you simply roll them over your lawn after mowing in nice even and straight rows.
How to Grow Japanese Red Maple Trees from Seed
Garden Tips
0 Comments

How to Grow Japanese Red Maple Trees from Seed

Most Japanese Maple seeds ripen in the fall. Watch the tree and wait for the seeds to turn brown. The seeds are ready to be harvested when they are brown and can be easily removed from the tree.

The seeds are attached to a wing, it’s best to break the wing off before storing or planting the seeds. Japanese Maple seeds have a very hard outer coating as do many ornamental plants. Under natural conditions the seeds would have to be on the ground for almost two years before they would germinate. All that happens the first winter is the moisture softens the hard outer shell, and the second winter germination is beginning to take place.

In order for all of this to happen in the proper sequence so the seedlings actually sprout at a time of the year when freezing temperatures or hot summer sun doesn’t kill them, takes a tremendous amount of luck.

You can improve the odds by controlling some of these conditions, and shorten the cycle. Once you have picked the seeds and removed the wing just place them in a paper bag and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready for them. You don’t want to plant your seeds out in the spring until the danger of frost has past, here in the north May 15th is a safe bet.

If May 15th is your target date you should count backwards on the calendar 100 days. That will take you to about February 5th if my math is correct. On or about the 100th day prior to your target planting date, take the seeds and place them in a Styrofoam cup or other container that will withstand some hot water. Draw warm to hot water from your kitchen faucet and pour it over the seeds. Most of the seeds will float, just leave them in the water overnight as the water cools down. 24 hours later most of the seeds will have settled to the bottom of the cup.

Drain off the water. Place the seeds in a plastic bag with a mixture of sand and peat or other suitable growing mix. Even light potting soil will work. The peat or soil should be moist, but not soaking wet. Poke some holes in the bag so there is some air circulation, and place the bag in your refrigerator for a period of 100 days.

After 100 days you can plant the seeds outside. If you have timed it correctly, you should be at or close to your target planting date.

To plant the seeds just sow them on top of a bed of well drained topsoil or sterilized potting soil, and cover with approximately 3/8″ of soil. Water them thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out completely before watering thoroughly again. If you water them frequently, not only do you stand a chance of the seeds rotting from being too wet, but you will also keep them cool, which will slow down the germination process.

Once they start to germinate provide about 50% shade to keep the sun from burning them. Snow fence suspended about 30″ above the bed will provide about 50% shade. Japanese Maples will tolerate some shade so it isn’t too important to transplant them too quickly.

Depending on how close together they are, you might be able to leave them in the same bed for one or two growing seasons. Don’t transplant until they are completely dormant.

Making Sure You Read Your Seed Packets
Garden Tips
0 Comments

Making Sure You Read Your Seed Packets

Very few consumers would buy a car or an appliance without reading information about the product. Purchasing a package of seeds doesn’t require a bank loan, but buyers still should read the packet carefully, says a gardening expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“The picture you see on the cover of a seed packet is designed to show the plant at its very best,” says J. Robert Nuss, professor of ornamental horticulture. “Reading the package before you buy helps you to make sure the seeds are best suited for your garden.”

Nuss recommends gardeners of all skill levels take time to check some important information on the seed package.

Date

The date usually is listed on the back flap, typically bearing the phrase “packed for 1999.” “Don’t buy last year’s seed unless it’s free or so reduced in price that it won’t matter if many do not germinate,” Nuss says. “Some seeds are viable longer than others, but how the seeds have been stored has a major effect on germination.”

Purity

Packages of agricultural crop or grass mixes must list the percentage of each kind of seed if levels are higher than 5 percent. Weed seeds and the amount of inert matter (dirt, stones and chaff) must be listed as well. “Most packages of flower and vegetable seeds for home gardening contain 100 percent of the variety,” Nuss explains. “If you buy a ‘garden mix’ for a flower variety, read the percentage of seeds thoroughly. The highest percentage is listed first.”

Weight

The weight listing is invaluable in helping gardeners calculate costs and potential yield. Nuss explains that many seed packets are weighed in milligrams or listed by number per packet. “Seeds also are packaged by the ounce, so it’s important to remember that there are 2,800 milligrams in an ounce and 28 grams to an ounce,” he says.

Origin

Certain agricultural and vegetable crops grown in one geographic area may not do well in another. “If you buy seeds in Georgia, they may not do well if you plant them in Pennsylvania, unless they are specified for your region,” Nuss says.

Germination

“If listed on the package, germination information tells you what percentage of the seeds will produce plants under ideal conditions — which usually means in a laboratory,” Nuss explains. “Home gardeners can expect a germination rate of 75 to 85 percent when planting directly into the soil.”

Variety

Most packets of flower and vegetable seeds for home use list the variety and whether the seed is an annual, perennial or biennial. The package will note if the plant is a hybrid as well.

Culture

“Almost all seed packages have information on how and when to plant,” Nuss says. “The information should include the number of days until seed germination.” Vegetable packets list the number of days to maturity. Most packets list spacing recommendations and height and spread of the plant at maturity. Special care instructions and growth habits usually are included as well.

“Be sure to save the seed packet for use as a reference during the season or as a guide for next year,” Nuss says. “If you put the seed packet on a stake at the end of the garden row, chances are the weather will render it unreadable.”

Saving Seeds
Garden Tips
0 Comments

Saving Seeds

With proper storage, gardeners can save seeds for next year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Gardeners usually have a few extra seeds or seed packages left over after planting their gardens, and a gardening expert in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences says leftover seeds can be stored to grow another day.

“Seeds are dormant living things that do not germinate to produce a new plant until warm temperatures and moisture break their dormancy,” explains J. Robert Nuss, professor of ornamental horticulture. “To keep seeds dormant, you must keep them cool and dry.”

Nuss says some garden seeds can be stored for long periods without much special treatment. He lists the relative shelf life of some popular plantings.

  • Five Years: Cucumber, endive and muskmelon.
  • Four Years: Cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pumpkin, radish and squash.
  • Three Years: Beans, celery, carrot, lettuce, pea, spinach and tomato.
  • Two Years: Beets and peppers.
  • One Year: Sweet corn, onion, parsley and parsnips.

Nuss says that relative seed shelf lives can be greatly improved by using several storage methods available to almost any homeowner. The key to storage is maintaining a constant temperature — preferably between 35 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit — and eliminating excess moisture.

“Moisture is the enemy,” warns Nuss. “Germination is hastened by high humidity and moisture, either in contact with the seed or in the storage container.”

He recommends the following storage methods:

Closed containers. “Use cans or glass jars with screw-top lids,” Nuss says. “Plastic 35 mm film containers are ideal for seed storage.”

Drying Agents. Placing an absorbent material in the container extends the life of the seed. “Dry powdered milk works well,” he says. “It attracts moisture from its surroundings, so don’t open the storage container except to use the seeds or change the drying agent.”

Nuss offers the following steps to create a powdered milk drying package.

Unfold and stack four facial tissues.

Put two heaping tablespoons of powdered milk on one corner.

Fold or roll the tissue into a small packet, sealing the ends with tape or rubber bands.

Place the packet in the larger container holding the seeds and seal the container. The drying agent should be changed every six months.

Store in a refrigerator or a similar cool spot. “Do not put it in the freezer,” Nuss says.

“This method is a great way to save commercial seeds or those you have collected from friends,” Nuss adds.