Pruning Effects New Plant Growth

Heading back will stimulate more new growing points. It is a known fact that the terminal bud secrete a growth-inhibiting chemical which move down to the lateral buds. These chemicals prevent the new lateral buds from growing, when cutting back the chemical is no longer available so the lateral buds start to grow. Usually, the buds just below the cut develop more, they in turn will start to manufacture the growth-inhibiting hormone to help prevent the growth of lateral buds farther down the branch.

Flowering shrubs are pruned by thinning out at different levels within the plant and cut the top back. Remove one or two branches all the way back to the ground. This will stimulate new growth from the root system which will help form a new plant. Don’t continue to prune at the same level year after year. If pruning continues at the same level over time a thick outer shell develops shading the inside of the plant, without sunlight the interior branches die. When damage occurs to the evergreen foliage and it dies a big brown-dead area will result. Since the interior of the plant has no live green foliage, the plant will look pretty bad. Don’t prune Japanese Yews and Junipers beyond where there are no green growth. Japanese Yews and Junipers are needle evergreens and they will not grow new foliage in areas where there no green needles. When plants become too large remove the old plants and re-plant. Select the right mature sized plant for the site. Remember, low maintenance is the best answer.

If most Holly broadleaf evergreens and Azaleas are cut back below the green growth, they will re-grow new foliage. Holly broadleaf evergreens are a big part of the landscape in the south. I have seen large holly plants cut back within 18 inches from the ground and re-grow into a new plant. It will take at lease two years before it will look like a shrub again. Some light pruning is required to re-shape the plant into a nice shrub.

Holly Tree

Identifiying a Holly

A full grown tree can reach a height of 15m and can live for over 250 years. It has smooth, thin bark which has many small warts that are brown in colour, with darker brown stems.

The dark green leaves are oval shaped and glossy. Young trees have very spikey leaves. As the leaves mature they lose their spikiness and become smoother. They are also much more likely to be smooth in the upmost parts of the tree.

Holly trees have a dioecious reproductive system; this means that the male and the female flowers are found on separate trees. The white flowers have four petals and develop into scarlet berries once they have been pollinated; these can stay and remain on the tree during winter and throughout.

Interesting fact: the holly berries are guarded by mistle thrush during the winter, stopping other birds from eating them

Significance to Wildlife

Because holly tree foliage is so dense, they provide optimal nesting prospects for birds and the dry leafs under the tree provide shelter for hedgehogs and other small mammals.

Pollinating insects such as bees use the flowers to collect pollen and nectar. There are numerous caterpillars from butterfly and moths that eat the foliage, such as the holly blue butterfly, as well as the double-striped pug, holly tortrix, yellow barred brindle. Deer may also eat the leaves at the top of the plant since they are usually smooth there; it is mainly for a winter source of food.

Birds will eat the berries and they can also be an important source of food in the winter but they may be eaten by dormice and wood mice.

How we use holly

Holly timber is very white and heavy with a tough and fine grain texture. It has many uses but works particularly well for making furniture and for use in engraving work; it is usually stained and polishes up well. The wood burns extremely well and is often used for firewood. You will often find the wood is used for making walking sticks as well.

We still use holly branches to decorate our homes with wreaths during Christmas.

Threats

There are a few pests and diseases affecting the Holly tree including holly leaf miner which causes extensive damage to the leaves and quite often defoliation. They are also susceptible to dieback caused by holly leaf blight.

Preparing Flower Beds for Winter

Plant Debris

One of the essential tasks of winter preparation is to remove dead heads and plant debris from the flower beds. Not only does this make the flower beds look better but it removes many of the winter hiding places for insects. This debris should be thrown away, not thrown in the compost pile.

Organic Material

Once the annuals are removed, you’re ready to add organic material to the soil. This can be manure or compost. If you chose to use manure, you can find bags at your local gardening center, or you can check with nearby farmers. Just be sure it is “aged” manure–not fresh.

Compost is easily made from kitchen scraps and soil. You can have a compost pile, use a compost barrel, or simply work the material directly into the flower bed.

You’ll want to use a rotary tiller to incorporate the organic matter into the dirt. While it may be tempting to buy a large tiller, if you have bulbs, you’ll want to use something more delicate. There are several smaller-sized tillers on the market. If you use one of these to work your way around the bulbs, you’re less likely to ruin your spring flowers.

Remove Bulbs

Depending on what zone you live in, you may need to dig up your bulbs and store them inside for the winter. Check with your local extension service for their recommendation.

The first step is to cut the foliage down. Leave 3 to 4 inches above ground to help you locate the bulbs. Now you can dig up the root ball. Shake off as much dirt as you can. They don’t have to be washed-with-a-hose clean, you just want to get the majority of the clumps off. As you pull the root ball apart, you’ll want to check for signs of rot.

Lay newspaper out on your garage floor and spread the bulbs out so they can dry for a day or two. Remove the remaining foliage from the tops. Now you can store them in a cardboard box or paper bag for the winter. Make sure they don’t touch while in storage. Packing them with sawdust will help.

Planning Vegetable Garden Plot

There’s never only one style of garden that works for everyone when it comes to vegetable garden planning because every gardener and their gardening wants and needs are unique. The type of soil you’ll be using, whether you’ll be sowing directly in the ground or using raised beds, how much sun and shade your garden area will get in a day, what types of fertilizers and supplements you’ll be using and what types of foods you’re looking to grow will all play a part in how your garden plan and your garden location is set up.

Settling on the best part of your yard for a garden is the first step. You want to look for an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunshine a day at a minimum, and has good drainage. The majority of plants will grow just fine if they have at least 6 hours of sunshine a day, and some food plants can even do well in partly shaded areas. Once you’ve decided on the location of your yard where you want to place your garden, next is deciding if you will be directly sowing into the ground or using some type of raised bed system. If directly sowing into the ground, prep the soil by tilling it and have it tested to find out what type of amendments if any you would need to add to make the soil hospitable to food plants. Raised beds are a bit simpler, just purchase some good garden soil and fill the beds. Most soils that are purchased are already fertilized and amended as needed, but a simple soil test can tell you if there are any additional amendments you’d need to add to your purchased dirt.

Another important factor in deciding where to place your garden is how close it is to a water source. You can’t always depend on the rain to provide a consistent and adequate source of water, so ensure you are close enough to a well or a water hose is long enough to reach the planted area without much hassle. Additionally if the garden is too far from a water source you may consider building a rain barrel out of a food grade 55 gallon jug for watering needs. Water is essential for your plants to grow strong and healthy and produce abundant crops for harvesting. If you’re interested in learning how to build a rain barrel, here is a good tutorial that shows you how.

So now you know where you want your garden, you’ve taken the steps to prep the soil or add the raised beds. Now that you’re done with that you need to decide what type of plants you want to grow. Always grow something you will actually eat, or that you can give away to someone who’s in need. Sometimes people are surprised by the amount of food that can be generated from a small amount of plants that do well. Unfortunately sometimes this food goes to waste because there is too much food, all of it couldn’t be given away or the growers don’t know how to can (put up) what they harvested. Start small on your first garden and get a feel for what you’re growing and how much time/effort it takes to not only grow but maintain, treat, debug, harvest and prepare the foods you’ll be growing.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll be growing it’s time to dive into your garden planning and get things placed in the best locations. Plants that grow tall are best kept in a part of the garden where they won’t shade other vegetables you’re growing. This can best be accomplished by keeping most of the bigger and taller plants toward the back which will most likely be the northern most part of your garden. Plants such as tomatoes are good candidate for this type of location.

Also consider companion planting, which is planting beneficial plants next to each other. Some examples are planting tomato next to basil, or green beans at the base of the corn stalk. Tomatoes benefit from basil by the basil repelling the tomato hornworm and basil can also enhance the flavor of tomatoes. Planting green beans that vine right next to a corn stalk provides the beans with a natural trellis and the beans affix nitrogen into the soil that benefits your corn, you can even add squash plants to the same bed as the corn and beans. Squash plants can deter raccoon’s from demolishing the corn since raccoon’s don’t like how the prickly squash leaves and vines feel. These are just two examples of how companion planting can work for your garden. There are other examples of companion planting such as onions, garlic and leeks planted with nightshades such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, as well as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower being planted with carrots.

Once your first year of planting is over, setting up your garden plan for the following year is a good fall/winter activity. Keep a schematic of what you planted where during your first gardening season. This will help you remember where you planted specific plants so you can ensure you don’t plant the same plant in the same location to following year. This is called crop rotation and it can benefit your garden by preventing the soil from harboring fungal spores, diseases and/or bacteria that can gain strength and become a problem if the same plants are planted in the same spots year after year. Crop rotation will also keep nutrients balanced in the soil and keep the soil healthier. Crop rotation is not a 100% fix all, but it can go a long way in helping reduce the chances of these problems happening.

Choose Heirloom Tomato Seeds

  • Many gardeners do so for the flavour of the crop. This applies specially to tomatoes. Heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers in home and market gardens.
  • Heirloom vegetables are likely to be more nutritious than newer varieties. However, opinions differ on this point. Certainly it is claimed that some of the orange and black or purple tomato varieties are higher in antioxidants then modern varieties. In the past vegetables were grown organically and today a growing voice of opinion favours organic methods to produce nutritionally dense food crops.
  • Most varieties of Heirloom tomatoes don’t ripen all at once. The plant continues to produce fruit throughout the season until stopped by frosts. Hybrids produce their crop over a shorter span of time, an advantage for commercial growers.
  • Unlike modern hybrid varieties, heirloom tomatoes come true from seed. This enables you to save seed from your crop to grow next season and to exchange with other growers, a cost-effective way of trying other varieties.

Creating a Successful Hydroponic Garden

The first tip is to make sure you are fully equipped with the knowledge of how hydroponic systems work. A lot of people fail because they simply do not understand how plants grow in a water-based environment. For example, one primary reason for failing is due to the incorrect input of water. It is extremely important that you get the right balance of nutrient and water. It is also important to select the right plants. One should note that a hydroponic gardening system is not suitable for every type of plant. Some plants grow faster than others when placed in aquatic environment.

The second tip to creating a successful hydroponic garden is to make sure that environment variables are set at optimal levels. One way of doing this is by making use of specialized garden tents. These tents can help with controlling variables such as temperature, light intensity, and humidity. It is extremely important to change water on a regular basis. If you keep using the same water then that can lead to plant growth issues. It is also vital that you change the nutrients at least once per week. If you keep using the same solution over and over then they will no longer be beneficial.

The last tip is to pick the right system. There are several hydroponic systems one can select. For example, beginners can go for a wick system. This particular system is pretty simple as it does not require special devices such as pumps and aerators. One simply has to put the plant in a large pot and utilize a special mat to ensure that the nutrients are being absorbed by the roots. Other systems you should also be aware of include deep water culture systems and top drip systems. Top drip systems are essentially recycling systems. Nutrients from a reservoir tank fall into the plant through a special tube. Once the nutrients have been absorbed, the solution returns to the reservoir tank. If you make use of these tips then you will have a great start to creating a successful water-based garden.

Early Spring Pond

  • Plan This Year’s Improvements: Use this early Spring time to get an idea of any new improvements you want to make to your pond. Will you be adding a water feature, or a new UV light? This a great time of year to get started. The weather is cool, and everything is already shut off for the winter.
  • Take Inventory: Have you convinced your spouse that you deserve a new underwater light with 144 different color combinations? Or maybe just a new pond net? Having a pond can be an expensive hobby. I like to buy one new major item a year. This keeps the cost low, and after a few seasons you will have everything you thought you needed.
  • Start Fresh with a Healthy Pond: This time of year, the pond is very fragile. Everything is starting to come out of the winter freeze. Be prepared for anything with PH Up/Down, Microbe-Lift and other pond treatments. Don’t get too excited about starting up your pond. A lot of pond owners start moving water far too soon and end up with busted pipes when the last frost hits. There always seems to be a week or two of spring like weather and then one final freeze. A lot of wineries know about this and if you still see plastic frost shields on orchards then it would be wise to follow their advice.
  • Check Electrical and Plumbing: Now is the ideal time to make any fixes to your plumbing. With all of the water flushed out of the lines you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing any broken spots. It is best to find any electrical/ plumbing issues now, before the Summer sun comes out and makes this a time critical fix.

Enjoy your creation. After all, this is what owning a pond or water garden is all about. Isn’t it? Unless you are in the tip 1% and pay someone to care for you. In that case I’m flattered your reading my article.

Bottom line. You will learn your pond. each pond is an ecosystem that develops its own quirks. Learn what your pond needs and try to help it get there. Working with nature is the only way to achieve a healthy pond.

APS Pond Supply is an online retailer of pond supplies located in Tri-Cities, WA. We offer low prices on pond pumps, pond filters, water treatment, Koi food, UV sterilizers, and much more. In our community there are limited affordable places to shop for pond supplies. We feel our prices (including shipping) are very competitive online as well as locally.The mission of APS Pond Supply is to offer the best pond supplies available with exceptional customer service. Our website is optimized to provide you with a safe and secure environment to begin or continue your water gardening adventure.

Crafting Shed

Begin the deck with 2x4s, pressure-treated, by attaching them to the frame vertically by employing a framing nailer. Install two 9-foot side pieces and lay them beside each other before installing two 4-foot end pieces. Mark each location of the joists to make sure that they will be evenly spaced at exactly 16 inches, then secure the end pieces and secure the joists to the frame using the framing nailer. Next, install 5/4″ decking to secure the decking boards using a screw gun. Install each with the cleaner side facing upwards, and install the first board along the edge and allow it to overhang the frame’s edge by half an inch.

Using the complete deck as a work surface, begin building the walls by laying out 8-foot-tall wall panels for the sides, top plate, bottom plate and studs that are spaced at 16 inches. Secure them together using a nail gun and repeat this process until the wall panels are finished. Nail them to the deck to raise the walls and scan the structure using a framing square. Build two more narrow panels for the wall that will hold the door using two 2x4s for the side for more strength on either side.

After both the front wall panels are set in the constructing a storage shed and the structure is finished, add 2x4s across the top to make a double top-plate. This will ensure that the shed is stronger. Once all the wall panels are done hang 4″x8″ sheets of OSB siding for the outside.

To make the roof rafters cut 2×6 boards and make them 13 inches long at the center. Now secure them with cleats made from OSB. Raise and attach them to the headers, then use 1×6 strips for the tops of the rafters and tie them to add support for the roofing sheets. Next, nail down the roofing sheets with self-sealing nails and washers.

After the completion of the boxes, cut holes for the windows and the storage boxes using a reciprocating saw. To make specific cuts through the OSB, cut between the studs. Next, attach vinyl siding to the outside of the shed using the manufacturer’s instructions. Starting at the corners, work your way to the middle and secure the siding using nails to the OSB.

Now once the main steps to construct a storage shed are completed, the doors and any storage pieces can be added. Make the two doors from one sheet of 3/4″ plywood that will be cut in half and has a 1″x4″ trim for the outer frame and barn-style “X” braces. Use 1/2″ plywood for the storage pieces that will be fastened with glue and nails for securing previously cut openings. Having a ramp to use for the front door will make it easier to store and retrieve tools such as mowers.

Take Care of a Bamboo Plant

Sunlight

Bamboo does best in direct and full sunlight. For this reason, don’t be afraid to plop your bamboo plant right in the middle of your garden. Don’t worry about hot spots or too much sun, the bamboo wants that.

Soil

Think acidic! Whether you plant your bamboo indoors or out, make sure that you plant it in some moderately acidic soil.

Bonus Tip: When you bamboo plant sheds leaves let them rest on the ground on top of the soil and mulch. This is will enable to the soil to stay moist and provide the nourishment that your plant will need to keep growing well.

Watering

Younger bamboo plants will need more water than when they are older. Water your younger plants twice a week. During the summer months of dryness and wind, make sure that you water your bamboo daily and be generous. Once you have the bamboo right where you want it and at the desired height, you can drop down your watering to just once per week. Don’t worry, your plant will continue to flourish and the reduce water will cut down on growth.

Planting Multiple Trees

If you’re going for a natural looking yard screen, then the bamboo is the perfect plant to provide it. Plant your plants about 3 to 5 feet apart. Bamboo is a giant grass and each year, your plants will throw up taller and stronger shoots so that annual maintenance of your natural screen may be necessary.

Nikko Blue Hydrangea

Leave them alone! Really. Quit tinkering with your plants trying to give them every little thing they need. What they really need is good soil, and adequate amount but not an over abundance of water and some sunshine. That’s about it. Quit fertilizing them and pouring all kinds of concoctions on them.

They know what to do. They are genetically wired to do one thing and only one thing. Make leaves and make flowers! Okay, so that’s two things. But they know that. They don’t need you sticking your nose in their business. If you give them the three things mentioned above and leave them alone they will grow and bloom.

Nikko Blue is in the macrophylla family of hydrangeas and therefore most people say to prune it right after it blooms. That’s great advice and you should follow it, but this spring I discovered something that has me a little perplexed. I bought about 50 Nikko Blues this spring. They were in the field and were dug just a tad late. On top of that I think they got tazed by a little frost. That’s a new gardening term, Tazed. In other words, they didn’t look so good, and were pretty much unappealing.

So I decided to prune them really hard, even though it was the middle of May.

What happened? After they were pruned they flushed out with beautiful new growth and then started blooming like crazy! Not only did I prune them in the middle of May, I cut them back really hard.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it many, many times in the future.
Quit tinkering with your plants!

They don’t need all of those store bought concoctions to make them do this or do that, sing and dance and jump over the moon. They just don’t need it! They need good soil that drains well, water on a regular basis, and sunshine. That’s what they need. That’s all they need.

Mike! Liar, liar Pants on Fire!

You just said you fertilized these hydrangeas in June! You’re telling me not to fertilize and you are fertilizing. You tell me one thing and then you do something else yourself. What gives Mike?

Great question! You caught me. This is really important for you to understand. The plants in my landscape do not get fertilized ever. Except maybe the roses because if and when I remember to do so I spray them with Bayer 3-1 Rose and Flower Spray and that does contain some fertilizer. All of the other plants in my landscape do not get fertilized ever. They haven’t been fertilized since I bought them.

Why no fertilizer for the plants in my landscape? They just don’t need it. They do absolutely fine without it.

Plants that are grown in the nursery in containers are grown in what is called a soil-less growing mix. In other words, the soil in the pot is not soil at all and it does not contain any soil. It’s usually a combination of bark mixes. There are a lot of reasons for this and a big one is drainage. These bark mixes drain really well. But that means that a lot of nutrients are getting washed away before they can be absorbed by the plant. And these soil-less mixes are really low in nutrients to begin with. So plants grown in containers have to be fertilized. Plants in a landscape do not have to be fertilized. I hope that makes sense.

If your Nikko Blue is not Blue, or Blue enough you can add Aluminum Sulfate to the soil and that should make the blooms more blue in color. You can get the Aluminum Sulfate at any full service garden center.
How Do You Propagate Hydrangeas?

Most hydrangeas are easy to propagate if you do them in the summer using soft new growth. Not spring, but summer. Mid June or later.

Quit tinkering with your plants. Just let them be plants. They know what to do. In order for plants to make a flower bud they have to slow down or almost quit growing all together to work on flower buds. But if you are dumping all kind of performance enhancing concoctions on them they can’t slow down and make flowers. It’s like you holding the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor then trying to turn the corner. It just not going to work!