Every year new plants hit the market for the upcoming growing season. Greenhouses and nurseries always trying to come up with the next popular plant. This is a benefit to gardeners as new species or cultivars of a plant can make it more resistant to disease & pests  Plants can come to thrive and adapt to changes in the environment too these days as evolution has come a long way. Thanks to advances in technology gardening is becoming a popular thing for people of all walks of life.

            People may be pouring over pages of seed catalogs to see what they may plant this spring. Keep in mind that not everyone plant is suitable for the St. Louis climate. It may grow well in Alabama but can`t survive our cold temperatures around here. Reaching out to local garden centers & nurseries is always a great idea instead of the catalogs. They are familiar with what grows around here. Plus, I always recommend supporting a local business helping to keep the money in the area. If you have any seed left over from last year it may be a good idea to dispose of it than keep it. Seeds will die off after a certain lapse of time and not sprout anymore when planted. A great way to test the seeds is to put them in a wet paper towel and keep it moist. This will tell you if the seed will germinate if planted in the spring. I recommend this technique if you have more than one seed of the plant as I don`t want to see you test your only seed you have.

            The University of Missouri Pest Management has released their list of new bedding plants for 2017. Here is the link: https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2017/2/new_bedding_plants_2017/

You can try purchasing some new plants at your favorite local nursery. 

However, if you plan on selecting plants for this season do it with an open mind and have fun with it.

The debate of global warming is still one between many people if it`s a true thing or not. We have seen some wild weather patterns over the last couple of years. Rain has been around a lot in the summer months and the fall has been tending to be on the drier side. This is usually the opposite as rain is hard to find sometimes in the summer months. Fall is an ideal time to re-seed parts of the yard with the cooler weather and more abundant wet weather. Temperature swings in the atmosphere also tends to confuse some plants on when to go into dormancy and when to perk up for the spring.

We had a late fall color transition this year in the immediate St. Louis area with the warmer months. This is the latest I can remember for doing leaf clean-ups in January since starting my business 6 years ago. Some plants that shut down for the winter, were starting to bud up early with temperatures being in the 80`s in November. This is very bad as it will open the plant up to winter injury since it hasn`t sealed itself up for the season. Newly installed plants like to have warm weather and good watering’s in the spring. Heavy amounts of rain and early mild weather can make it hard for the plant to develop a good root system before the hot summer months arrive. Try and water newly installed plants daily for the first 2 weeks to help them establish this root system.

Pests have also been very bad the season as the warmer months allow them to live longer and feed more. Spider mites could feed late into the season and cause a lot of damage on evergreens and ewes. Usually this bug is finding a place to bed down for the winter months. We were treating plants late into November to help control the problem. Summer annual weeds and grasses took over early as the ground did dry out early in June. Even with the treatment of putting down a pre-emergent crab grass was running a mock in yards around St. Louis. This is due to the ground cracking early in the season breaking the barrier created by the pre-emergent. Along with a lot of rain that will help it dissipate the chemicals in the pesticide.  I believe that the climate is changing and this may have a big impact on the green industry as a whole. Try and plan and follow a good regimen for keeping your lawns and gardens happy this spring. Following watering recommendations and applying a good fertilizer to feed them. Always remember to follow the label on the fertilizer for best results.

I recently read a post on how gardening matches up to going to the gym. Working out in the yard can burn a lot of calories just like your regular visit to the gym. Here is the post from Turf Design & Build.
Do you have clients who are bored with their summer workout routines?

Suggest they have you install a garden as part of their backyard landscape.

Why? Researchers from Konkuk University and Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea, claim gardening is just like going to the gym.

Here’s how:

  • Turning compost is like lifting weights.
  • Raking is like using the rowing machine.
  • Pushing a mower is like walking on a treadmill.
In fact, in measuring 10 gardening tasks against gym favorites for men and women in their 20s, their research classified planting transplants, mixing growing medium, watering, harvesting, sowing, hoeing, mulching, raking and weeding as moderate-intensity activities and digging as a high-intensity activity.

Looking at specific calorie burn, the Royal Horticultural Society calculates that a half an hour of digging burns 150 calories, raking a lawn burns 120 calories and pushing a lawn mower burns 165 calories.

While past studies have focused on the health benefits of gardening for older adults, this study set to prove that gardening can provide similar benefits for younger adults.

Credit:Nicole Wisniewski: Turf Design & Build

Seasons are changing around the area with us deep into fall and winter right around the corner. Doing a few things now will help to keep the gardens clean once winter hits. This may also give you a head start next season as some of the things will be completed already. Cleaning out the garden before snowfall happens around here will help to avoid pests and diseases finding a home in the garden for the winter.

            Once a good hard freeze sets in one night, a lot of perennial ground covers can be cut back to a couple of inches above ground the level to get rid of the dead top growth. This would include mums, hostas, day lilies, etc. It is advisable to let the growth stay on some plants like lariope and pompias grasses to protect the crown over the winter from snow and ice collecting on them. I will usually cut back the long reeds on the grasses and leave the remaining growth to protect the crown. Covering up roses and the cut back ground covers will protect them from the winter weather and keep the soil at a constant temperature to help avoid thawing and refreeze which can sometimes pop plants out of the ground if they are fairly young and don`t have an established root system. A good winter mulch can be pine needles, or mulched up leaves. Just make sure to remove your winter mulch in the spring once the chance of frost is gone which is usually by April 1st. Keep the leaves cleaned up as they fall. I know this can be a never ending battle as a lot of trees are late this year to drop their leaves with the mild temperatures that we have been having. A few things can go a long way to help out the garden this winter.

Mulch has many benefits in the gardens as helping plants out and adding the attractiveness your garden may lack. Spring is the time when you may apply a new layer of mulch or turn over the old stuff to bring back the color. Mulch does have its minor maintenance details that some do over look sometimes.

            Mulch can help the soil to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This helps when you have bulbs planted in the ground. Moisture can be conserved in the ground during times of drought benefiting plants by keeping it moist. Mulch also helps aid in weed control around the garden. But don`t forget that weeds pretty much can`t be stopped. Maintenance is the key. Depending on the quantity of mulch that you may need it comes in bagged product and in bulk form too. Try to stay away from the discount bags of mulch sold by the big box stored as this is just ground up freight pallets. Some pallets may contain chemicals in the wood that can change the soil. To figure out how much mulch you may need just remember to get the length and width of each bed and multiply them together. Then add everything up to get your square footage. A good thick layer of 2-3 inches is usually ideal for any situation. Too much mulch can actually affect how much air and moisture get to the soil.    

            Maintenance does come along with mulch as does everything else. A good raking every couple of months can help to keep the mulch loose and maintain its color. Mulch actually will pack down and settle over time. This is a good invitation for the artillery fungus mushroom that can shoot black spores after a while and are very hard to clean from surfaces. A good tool to use in the garden for turning mulch is the garden weasel with its removal able tines. Organic wood mulch usually keeps its color for 12 months then will need to be replenished. Color mulch usually last anywhere from 12-18 months. It`s a good idea to till up the soil a little before laying new mulch as this will aerate the ground.