• Jul 26

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

Say goodbye to dull shady spots and hello to wonderful color, texture and shape.  Not all shade is the same and can be broken down into 5 different categories.

Dense shade means that no light reaches this area.  Full shade will last all day, such as on the north side of a tall building.  A partly shaded area will receive 4 to 5 hours of sun.  A filtered shady spot may seem completely shady but will receive rays of sun through tree branches.  Light shade consists of shade for only 2 to 4 hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Figuring out what kind of shade you are dealing with will help you to choose the right plantings.

One of my go-to favorites in the shade garden is the ever popular Hosta, which generally will reach its maturity in 4 to 8 years.  Some varieties are more shade tolerant than others.  There are so many different sizes, colors and textures to choose from.  They are relatively low maintenance but slugs can be a problem.  Diatomaceous earth spread around the plants will keep the slugs away and hand picking them off the plant ensures they will not be chewing more holes in your hosta leaves.  I go out after dark with a headlamp snug on my crown and a disposable cup with soapy water in hand to place the slugs into after picking them off the hosta leaves.  Not a fun job but it works like a charm!

Astilbe is a shade lover that comes with colorful plume shades of red, white and pink.  If planted in sun it will need to be watered consistently.  I know this first-hand as mine dried up to a crispy brown and went dormant during the summer only to sprout again the next spring.

Coral Bells (Heuchera) offer lots of color in not only the flowers but also in the leaves.  Flower colors can range from white, pink and red and the leaves from peach, gold and purple to a variegated white and green.  It is time to divide Coral Bells when the center is dead.  Throw away any woody pieces and transplant.  Every spring I cut off the old foliage and it grows back beautiful as ever.  Hummingbirds are attracted to these flowers.

Pulmonaria is a deer resistant plant that you will find blooming with the daffodils.  It has white to pink speckled leaves and blue, white or pink blooms that are small.  When cutting back the bloom stems be sure to wear gloves so the pricklies will not stay on your hands.

Foamflowers prefer some light shade and different varieties sport shapely and colorful leaves with white to pink blooms in the early spring.  To encourage more blooms cut off the old flowers.

Spring blooming Brunnera, also known as Siberian Bugloss and False Forget Me Not, prefers the conditions of a moist woodland setting.  Dainty blue flowers bloom above the foliage on slender stems that grow to about 18 inches tall.  This plant works very well as a ground cover or in naturalized areas alongside a stream or pond.  Most varieties will take some morning sun but like the afternoon shade.  Check the growers tag when purchasing for sun and moisture requirements.  ‘Variegata” (‘Dawsons White’) will not tolerate sun or drought.

The deer resistant Bergenia sports glossy evergreen leaves and white or pink blooms in the early spring.  It likes part shade, will tolerate full shade (will not bloom as well) and can be grown in full sun (leaf edges may scorch).

There are a number of other plants to choose from for your shade garden.  Check the Purdue University Cooperative Extension website for publication HO-222.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Karen Weiland, Master Gardener, Purdue Extension, LaGrange County

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  • Jul 20

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

An infestation of squash bugs (Anasa  tristis)can inflict quite a bit of damage in the garden.  They feed primarily on fruits such as pumpkins, melon and squash and can destroy the plant by sucking its sap from stems and leaves, causing the leaves to wilt and die.  In the fall, they can feed on unripened fruit, causing the fruit to go bad.

Squash bugs are about 5/8 of an inch long, winged and grayish brown with a flat back.  Orange-brown stripes can be seen on the edges of the abdomen and the undersides.  Squash bugs and stink-bugs are sometimes mistaken for each other.  Their shape and size are similar with stink-bugs being wider and rounder and they both release an odor when crushed.  The difference is that stink-bugs have this name because they can release their nasty odor when disturbed, not just crushed.  In the garden, stink-bugs prefer to feed on legumes and tomatoes.

Squash bug eggs are an orange to copper color, 1/16 of an inch long and are laid in clusters on the top or underside of the leaves and on stems.  Nymphs hatch in one to two weeks, are 3/16 to ½ inch long and range in color from a mottled white to a greenish gray with black legs.  They later turn brown, resembling an adult, and start growing their wing pads. During a time period of about 4 to 6 weeks, they molt several times, increasing their size each time and then become adults.

Unmated squash bugs overwinter by finding shelter under garden debris, rocks, wood, etc.  In the spring, they fly from their winter habitat to feed, mate and lay eggs.  Search for them early in the season.  They will be hiding under debris, in perennials and near buildings by the garden.

Place wooden boards or shingles randomly throughout the garden.  Squash bugs will use them as a night time shelter.  In the morning check under them for squash bugs, destroying them when found.

The best method for control of these bugs is through keeping the garden clean.  Remove cucurbit plants after harvest and keep the garden free from debris where bugs can overwinter.  During the growing season, pick off and destroy the egg masses as soon as you discover them.  Use protective covers such as row covers, removing them at bloom time to allow for the pollination process to take place.  Growing vines vertically can make cucurbits less vulnerable to squash bug infestations.  There are some squash varieties that are more resistant to squash bug damage than others.

Using insecticides to kill squash bugs can prove to be difficult because they are often hiding near the crown and can be hard to reach with a spray.  Oils, such as neem oil and horticultural oil, are less toxic to the environment and work the best on the very small nymphs.  Good coverage is essential so that nymphs hiding under the leaves and deep within the plant will be reached.  Diatomaceous earth, a natural pesticide made from the fossilized shells of one-celled organisms called diatoms, is abrasive to many insects and can be dusted over plants to reduce their numbers and will periodically need to be reapplied.  There are other, more toxic, pesticides that can be used however they also have a negative effect on bees and beneficial insects throughout the garden.  If an insecticide is used, it should be sprayed in late afternoon or evening to avoid injury to bees.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jul 14

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

Talk to any fruit growing gardener about bird damage and you will likely hear a variety of solutions to deter them.  Birds can do so much damage to fruit, especially once it is ripe.  Crows, starlings, grackles and blackbirds, to name just a few, are notoriously destructive to fruit.  Yes, they are just doing what comes natural to them which is looking for a source of food, however there are some steps that a home gardener can take to prevent their feasting on your source of  this winters jams and jellies.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to combat bird damage and most of them fall within three categories: frightening devices, mechanical barriers and habitat modification.

Consider planting serviceberry bushes, rudbeckias, sunflowers and coneflowers, whose seeds and berries birds are very fond of, in an area located away from your fruit planting.   Keep bird feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seeds and keep in mind that birds also feed on insects so they really are useful to have around.

I have found that netting works very well to protect my grapes, however, it must be installed so that it is not merely laying on top of my planting.  Birds are smart and will reach through the netting to eat the fruit.  Instead, support the netting with a system of posts and wires or twine.  Cut the bottom off of a 2 liter plastic bottle and nail it to the top of a wooden post to prevent any tears in your netting.  The netting must be anchored in the ground to prevent birds from entering.  .  The birds will notice the change in the color of the fruit as it is ripening so apply the netting before the fruit ripens.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the big scare-eye balloons or inflatable owls which are hung on posts every 6 to 20 feet apart.  Birds will get used to them so these generally will work to keep birds away for 10 to 14 days.  Lay out some rubber snakes and change their location every day.  Just remember where you have placed them so you don’t scare the bejeebers out of yourself.  A solar powered great horned owl statue is available whose head turns and bobs every few minutes to mimic the real thing.  I would think that would get a birds attention.

Employing sound devices along with moving devices generally works the best.  Aluminum pie pans can be hung in pairs so that their sound and reflection, when they move, will startle birds and scare them away.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jul 7

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

I would venture to guess that every gardener, at one point or another, is going to have an infestation of powdery mildew.  It is one of the most widespread and easily identifiable plant fungal diseases out there.  Fortunately, the symptoms of powdery mildew are usually worse than the actual damage and is rarely fatal to a plant.

This fungus is host specific, meaning out of the many different species, each specie only attacks certain plants.   For example, the lilac powdery mildew pathogen cannot infect the honeysuckle plant next to it.

Infected plants will first show signs of infection with small, white, powder-like dots on the leaves.  If not treated, the powdery coating will gradually  spread over a large area of the leaf and stem.  Leaves can become discolored, die and fall off, flowers may become deformed and shoots may be disfigured.  Severely infected vegetable plants may not produce as heavily, have a shortened production time and less taste.  Brownish spots on pea pods can mean an infection of powdery mildew is present.

Previously infected plant material contains cleistothecia (overwintering bodies of the fungus) that will rupture and release fungal spores in the spring.  These spores are carried with the wind to newly emerging, susceptible tissues where they start growing.  Powdery mildew is most prevalent when temperatures are on the cool side and humidity is high or in weather that is very dry.  These pathogens are some of the only fungal organisms that can germinate and infect when there is no free water.

One of the best ways to avoid powdery mildew infections is to purchase plants that are resistant to the disease.  When purchasing, check the plants tag for PM resistance.  In the process of planting, choose a site that is appropriate for the plant, allowing adequate spacing between plants in order to increase air circulation and enough sun to thoroughly dry plant parts.  Some pruning and thinning will help existing plantings by increasing air circulation and light penetration.

If you prune infected plant parts, destroy them, do not place them in the compost pile.  Temperatures are sometimes not hot enough to kill the spores.  In the fall, remove as much of the plant debris in the garden as possible so overwintering spores will not cause infection the following year.

If an application of a fungicide is needed, those with a low environmental impact are suggested.

Horticultural oils, neem oil, wettable sulfur or antitranspirants can prevent infection when applied and can last up to 30 days. Keep in mind that some of these fungicides need to be applied before or at the first sign that the disease is present.   Do not apply these products when the air temperature is above 85 degrees.  Check the label to make sure the plant you will be using it on is listed and follow the instructions for rates to be used, timing of applications and waiting periods before harvest.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jun 22

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

One of the duties of a Master Gardener is to volunteer to answer questions that are received by the Extension office during the absence of the Extension Educator.  I took on that challenge recently and received quite a few questions to answer.  One of the questions involved an issue with a shade tree.

According to an article written by R. J. Stipes, Professor of Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech and Mary Ann Hanson, Extension Plant Pathologist also at Virginia Tech, anthracnose is a name for a group of diseases caused by several closely related fungi that attack many of our finest shade trees.  It occurs most commonly and severely on sycamore, white oak, elm, dogwood and maple.  Each species of anthracnose fungus attacks only a limited number of tree species.  The fungus that causes sycamore anthracnose, for example, infects only sycamore and not other tree species.  Other anthracnose-causing fungi have similar life cycles, but require slightly different moisture and temperature conditions for infection.

Anthracnose fungi may cause defoliation of most maple, oak, elm, walnut, birch, sycamore and hickory species and, occasionally, of ash and linden trees.  Damage of this type usually occurs after unusually cool, wet weather during bud break.  Single attacks are seldom harmful to the tree, but yearly infections will cause reduced growth and may predispose the tree to other stresses.  Damage may be in the form of:

  • Killing of buds, which stimulates the development of may short twigs or “witches’ brooms”
  • Girdling and killing of small twigs, leaves and branches up to an inch in diameter
  • Repeated early loss of leaves, which over several successive years weakens the tree and predisposes it to borer attack and winter injury
  • Premature leaf drop, which lessens the shade and ornamental value of the tree

Specific symptoms of anthracnose vary somewhat depending on the tree species infected.  That information along with photos can be found by visiting  www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/450/450-604/450-604.html

Anthracnose fungi overwinter in infected leaves on the ground.  Some canker-causing anthracnose fungi, such as the sycamore anthracnose fungus, also overwinter in twigs on the ground or in cankered twigs that remain on the tree.  The spores are blown and splashed to the buds and young leaves and with favorable moisture condition, penetrate and infect the swelling buds and unfolding leaves.  Long rainy periods help the fungus to spread rapidly.

Disease control measures for different trees vary slightly because the period of infection is different depending on the fungal species involved.  If fungicides are used, sprays must be applied on a preventative bases, beginning before infection takes place.  Spraying large trees for many anthracnose diseases may be impractical and unnecessary, especially in dry springs.  Sanitation is important in reducing the amount of fungal inoculums available for new infections.

The article, which is associated with the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia State University, states the following measures should be taken for effective anthracnose control of most anthracnose diseases:

  • Rake up and remove infected leaves in the fall.  Leaves may be shredded and composted or burned.
  • Prune out and burn or bury dead twigs and small branches.  Prune to thin the crown. Thinning will improve air movement and promote faster drying of the leaves.
  • If fertilizer is needed, fertilize in the fall about a month after the average date of the first frost or in early spring about a month before the date of the last frost to increase tree vigor.
  • If chemical control is desired, spray with a fungicide containing mancozeb (e.g. Manzate 200, Dithane M-45) at bud swell and twice again during leaf expansion following label rates.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects can be found online at www.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jun 8

By Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

The Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) is truly an old fashioned garden plant I like to grow for their tall spikes with showy flowers.  They are the quintessential cottage garden flower and are great for filling in large areas like the back of a flower bed, along a fence or a wall.

Hollyhocks are biennial plants.  They spend the first year of their life building roots and storing energy, growing close to the ground in a circular rosette fashion.  After going dormant for the winter, they re-emerge, growing into a much taller flowering plant that will set seed and then die. Allowing the seed to fall to the ground will ensure more plants for following years.  This plant likes full sun and fertile, well drained soil.  Surround them with a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch to keep weeds at bay, retain moisture and keep the soil cooler during the hottest days of the summer.

The major disease problem that hollyhocks face is rust, a fungal disease.  It starts as orange, powdery looking spots on the underside of leaves.  Swellings soon emerge within these spots.  As the swellings develop they release masses of reddish-brown spores covering a major portion of the underside of the leaf.   Leaves that are infected eventually turn gray or tan and die.  The reddish spores are easily spread by splashing water, rain and wind. Lower leaves will show the condition first and the disease will progress upward during the growing season.  The extent and severity will depend on weather conditions.  This fungus will overwinter in plant debris and if not disposed of, the symptoms will appear early the next spring in new growth when weather conditions are favorable.

You can help to prevent rust infection by giving the plants plenty of space and ventilation.  Place plants in a sunny, dry location so that moisture can quickly evaporate form the foliage.  Water the soil around the plants rather than the plants themselves as the rust spores will attach easier to wet foliage.  Remove infected leaves as soon as you have identified them and  do not use the infected leaves or plant parts in your compost pile.  Treatment would include use of a fungicide. As in any use of a chemical, read and follow all label directions.  Start spraying in the spring as new growth starts.  You may need to spray several times to protect the young plants.  At the end of the season, remove all infected hollyhock plant material down to the base and destroy it.

When it comes to pests, the hollyhock sawfly is quite common.  The larval form of the hollyhock sawfly is a leaf skeletonizer that eats it way through the leaves, leaving them looking like swiss cheese.  The little green worms are up to ½” long with a black spot on their head and full stomachs.  The plant should be treated as soon as the first holes are seen with Sevin or Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).  If you decide to forego treatment, the plant will still live, it just will not look very good. Hollyhock weevils are tiny insects that drill into the stem and flower buds for food.  Spider mites, caterpillars and slugs also plague hollyhocks.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.  The Purdue Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Jun 1

by Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

Whether you are using perennials or annuals, choosing from all the different varieties can be a bit overwhelming.  I like to choose plant combinations in three’s. Begin by picking one plant as the foundation.  Then decide if you want to organize your threesome by texture, shape or color.  A combination of any of these design elements may be to your liking also.  Using a pot or container let’s say with a basket weave design can contribute to the texture of a whole planting.  A pot color should be taken into consideration so that it complements the colors of the flowers in the planting.  Another thing to consider is to keep the size of your plants in scale with the size of the pot and choose one large enough to give the roots some room to grow in.   Some plants may overtake others and then the balance of the planting will become out of proportion.  This can be remedied by giving the aggressor a little trim.

Filling your pot with a thriller, filler, spiller combination can give your container pizzazz.  Choose a thriller, or centerpiece plant that is bold and beautiful. Then add a filler, which can be a foliage or flowering plant that will complement the thriller.  Lastly add a spiller that will tumble out of the pot and again, will complement the thriller.

Combine plants that require the same growing conditions.  I like to use container plantings that can withstand a drier condition mostly because I tend to forget to water the poor things.  Heat and drought tolerant Rudbeckia, Pentas, ornamental pepper, begonia, sweet potato vine, Euphorbia and hens and chicks are some of my favorites.  A container planting that is a magnet for bees would include cornflowers, spanish lavender, tickseed, blanket flower and baby’s breath.  A hummingbird feast could be a vibrant mix of salvias and verbenas and a butterfly banquet could include delphinium, salvia, red verbena and coreopsis.

By using a combination of containers, you can fill a space with beautiful color and texture or use them to soften a hardscaped area.  Because pots are portable, they can be shifted around as the plants in them grow and bloom and can be changed through the seasons.  Consider elevating containers at varying heights in your garden area.  Plant stands, bricks, buckets and concrete blocks are a sampling of items that can be used to give your pots a boost.  Whatever you decide to use will need to be sturdy.  A pot filled with wet soil can be very heavy.

Remember, plants are living entities that react and grow differently under different conditions or circumstances.  What may work well for your friend may have you singing the blues.  Keep a garden journal to record the combinations you have tried over the years.  Being a very visual person, I like to take pictures of the combinations I use.  The hands-on experience you will gain over the years of gardening cannot be replaced.  Have patience, experiment with all kinds of different plants, enjoy what you are doing and remember that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in La Grange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • May 11

by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener

What is a weed?  People have different views on what is and is not a weed.  I see mullien as a beautiful plant with its fuzzy, silvery leaves and tiny yellow flowers.  I like to use them in my landscape around my potting shed.   My farmer husband however, sees it as a weed growing along the edge of his corn field.  Basically, a weed is a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to grow.

Every square inch of your garden contains weed seeds.  They can remain dormant for a long time and each time you work the soil, that process brings those seeds to the surface where they can and will germinate.  According to the Purdue Extension website, one dandelion plant can produce 15,000 seeds in one year, and even worse, each seed is capable of surviving up to six years in the soil.

Using mulch around plants is very beneficial in your war against weeds.  Not only will it smother weed germination, it will also help the soil retain moisture and stay cooler during the hot summer months.  Two to four inches of straw, grass clippings or shredded bark can be used as mulch in the garden.   Layers of newspaper topped with a bit of straw has proven to be a very effective weed barrier in years past for me.    Grass that has been treated with a pesticide or herbicide should not be used.

A sheet of plastic is another mulching alternative.  Using plastic tends to warm the soil so it is best used around warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, melons and peppers.  For larger areas, a shallow pass with the cultivator now and then will keep weeds at bay.  Lastly, there is the option of hand pulling the weeds.  I have read that this is easiest done while they are still small and pulled just after a rain.  I will confess that I detest the awful job of hand pulling weeds and will mulch the daylights out of my garden so those nasty seeds do not see a speck of sun.

Certain herbicides can be used to prevent germination of weed seeds, while another type can be applied to weeds while they are growing.   It is very important to read the product label when choosing an herbicide.  Some are labeled for use on certain vegetable crops, some are only for specific ornamental plants and others have a tendency to drift from what you want to target.  There is no “one size fits all” herbicide.  If you are used to using a certain product for a number of years, check the current label listing as plants can be added or deleted over time.

It is recommended to only use herbicides for spot treatment or for use on a specific crop.

The best and environmentally friendly control option is to use mulch and/or cultivation.

As always, Happy Gardening!!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • May 4

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

I ran into a friend a few weeks ago while checking out the assortment of goodies on the shelves at a local store and right after our “hellos” he told me I needed to write about how to plant a tree and how some folks “are just doing it wrong”.  I always welcome topic ideas, so here you go Norm!

A few things to consider before actually planting the tree is location, season and type of tree.

Choose a tree that will fit your landscape and that will grow well in the type of soil that you have.  A tree planted in the heat of the summer will be stressed much more than one planted in the spring or fall.  And as I’m sure you all know, some trees can be a bit dirtier than others with their falling nuts and spent blooms. Consider how much work you want to put into cleaning up after what you plant.

Lay out a sheet of plastic or canvas or have a wheelbarrow nearby to throw dirt into.  Dig the hole two times as big around as the root spread.  Only dig as deep as the height of the root ball.  You will want solid, undisturbed soil under your tree so that it does not settle after the tree is planted.

I recently planted several 10-12 foot, containerized trees.  The roots were rather dense so I  loosened them by making several vertical cuts around the root ball and then gently pulled some of the roots away from the ball.  According to the University of Missouri Extension website, recent studies have shown that trees root much more slowly in high-density soil than in loosened soil and in most soils, 90 percent of the actively absorbing root tips are located in the upper 12 inches of the root ball.  Taking this information into account, I tapered the sides of my hole to give the upper root system some loose soil to grow into.

Mix the top and subsoil together, and if it is a light, droughty soil, mix in one part peat moss to two parts soil.  Backfill the hole to within one half to three quarters full and fill with water.  I mix a root stimulator product that I bought at a local nursery, with my water.  Once that has drained, finish filling with the remaining soil.  Water again and do not tamp the soil.  Finish with a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, keeping it away from the trunk of the tree.  Do not create a sloping mound of mulch around the trunk as this will lead to a slow death for your tree.  To keep weeds from growing through the mulch, lay down multiple layers of newspaper.   Mulching will also help keep the roots cooler in the summer and it will help retain moisture.  Depending on how much rainfall is had, you may need to water regularly during the first couple of years.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about tree planting and gardening subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service

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  • Apr 27

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Edible landscaping is the integration of edible plants into the ornamental landscape.  More people are looking toward growing their own nutritious produce at home, thus saving money and natural resources at the same time.  Think about incorporating  fruit trees and blueberry bushes into the planting scheme of your yard or lining  the side of your patio with some beautiful rhubarb, with its bold red stalks and crinkly leaves, being under planted with some creeping thyme.

Many vegetables lend themselves very well to being planted into containers.  I have an assortment of greens and lettuces growing in my rain barrel planter.  When planting vegetables keep their aesthetics and growing habits in mind as well as their taste.  Pretty purple cabbage would look very nice planted with some snowy white cauliflower.  If it’s bold color you’re looking for, Swiss chard comes in a rainbow of colors and sweet peppers sport a very bright yellow.  Some cherry tomatoes planted in a pot would make a tasty snack while lounging on the patio.

Don’t forget the edible flowers such as nasturtiums, chives, lavender and basil.  Use them as garnishes and in salads.  My favorite is nasturtium, with its zesty, peppery taste itcan be added to a sandwich in place of mustard or add it to pretty up a salad.

Edible plants, like ornamentals, require maintenance.  Just remember to “plant the right plant in the right place”.  In other words take into consideration the plants growing requirements and what condition your landscape area is in.  Most food producing plants need a sunny location and well drained soil along with some pruning, fertilizer and water.

Keep in mind that vegetables and herbs that are planted and harvested frequently will need to be kept in an area to themselves.  This will allow you to amend and cultivate the soil without disturbing the roots of the ornamentals.

Landscaping with edibles not only adds a twist to gardening, it enhances your health and well-being too.  Raspberries you pick yourself will taste so much better than the raspberries that have been trucked hundreds of miles to get to your local grocery store.  So the next time you decide to make a change to your landscape or yard, make it do double duty by using edible plants.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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