Don’t put that trowel and rake away just yet! This year’s gardening season may be over, but it can also be a great opportunity to start preparations for next year’s gardening season. Taking care of a few garden clean-up chores now means fewer pests and disease problems which leads to a more productive garden for next spring!
To help shine the light on garden clean-up, I contacted Kim Leonberger, our UK Agriculture Extension Associate to get the checklist needed to help take the guesswork out of garden clean-up. To hear the full episode, make sure to stay right here for Episode 20 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
- Why do we clean up?
- Plant pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses can survive in plant debris and on items in the garden.
- Cleaning-up helps to remove these pathogen structures so that they do not survive winter and come back to cause issues next year.
- Failure to clean-up can result in more disease next year.
- What gardening activities should we consider to help clean-up our gardens for the winter?
- Remove plants and plant debris.
- Turn soil when possible.
- Clean tools, stakes, cages, decorations, pots and other items from the garden.
- Do not compost diseased plant material.
- Diseased plant material should be burned, buried, or taken off-site.
- Home compost bins do not get hot enough to kill these plant pathogens.
- Large-scale, commercial compost piles do get hot enough to kill pathogens.
- Some communities have yard waste pick-up, which go to a large compost pile. It is ok to put diseased material here.
- Cleaning tools
- Cleaning products (soaps and detergents) remove loose organic matter. Products include dish soap, hand soap, some household cleaners.
- Disinfection products (disinfectants/sanitizers) have anti-microbial activity and can kill disease-causing micro-organisms. Products include rubbing alcohol (70%), 10% bleach (9 parts water and 1 part bleach), hand sanitizer, some household cleaners.
- Steps to cleaning tools
- Clean and scrub to remove organic matter.
- Rinse to remove any residues.
- Disinfect – Follow product directions. Most require a dip, soak, or spray. Be sure to note exposure time. A lot of products it is between 3 and 5 minutes. Bleach is the most effective and requires 30-45 seconds. However, bleach is corrosive so a rinse is need to limit effects. Make sure to never mix bleach with other cleaning products as a toxic gas can form.
- Rinse and Dry.
- Example of cleaning a tool – Wash with dish soap to remove soil and other organic matter. Rinse and dry. Dip in 10% bleach solution for 30-45 seconds. Rinse in clean water (not the same as before). Dry with a paper towel.
I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today on garden clean-up! A big thank you to Kim Leonberger for being our guest on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! To view the show notes for Episode 20, make sure to visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture! You can find us at warrencountyagriculture.com.
- Additional information
- Extension publications available at https://plantpathology.ca.uky.edu/extension/publications
- Specifically have publications on sanitation and cleaning garden tools.
- Kentucky Pest News is a weekly newsletter that comes directly to your inbox and provides information from specialists about diseases, insects, weeds, and other problems. https://kentuckypestnews.wordpress.com/
- Subscribe to Kentucky Pest News – https://uky.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9dec271e3ce221c39a07750cc&id=bee884adb8
Emerald Ash borer was discovered in Warren County, Kentucky back in July of this year 2021. Since Emerald Ash Borer was found in Kentucky in 2009, it has progressively spread throughout the state and destroyed several of our prized ash trees. The damage caused from Emerald Ash borer feeding brings on a lot of questions from Kentucky homeowners on: What control options are available? What trees can be replanted after the ash trees decline? These questions are all going to be answered in episode 17 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! In this episode, I chat with University of Kentucky Forestry Health Extension Specialist Dr. Ellen Crocker to ask specifically what options are available for Kentucky residents. To listen to the full episode, make sure to stay right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
Tell us more about the emerald ash borer and what damage it causes to Ash trees in Kentucky.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect from Asia. It is actually a beetle. Our ash trees do not have a good defense mechanism to them. It can rapidly kill ash trees.
Since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and since that time, it has swept through the country. It has killed millions of ash trees. Just this past year, especially in Western Kentucky there have been several new sightings. Larvae tunnel and kill the vascular tissue of the tree. Most homeowners will miss the insect damage. Less healthy tree? Missing part of the tree? Lots of damage done from the feeding. “D” shaped exit holes are found on the outside edge of the tree due to the shape of the abdomen.
In Kentucky, we have several varieties of ash. White and green ash trees are the most damaged. The blue ash have more natural resistance to it.
What homeowner options are available to help control this invasive insect pest?
Ask yourself “do you have ash trees on your property?”
You can apply yourself or contact a certified arborist in your area to apply the insecticide. There are several insecticides sold for control of emerald ash borer. Soil drench with imidacloprid to treat annually. Make sure to follow the label directions. Application amount is based on how big the trunk diameter is in size. Treat annually with imidacloprid.
Certified arborists are paid professionals through the International Society for Arboriculture (ISA).
A few other things to consider about treating trees for EAB. Look at it as a protective insecticide application. The insecticide are systemic insecticides. So it may or may not be effective. Prioritize the trees that you want to save. Consider the costs associated with them. Time treatment according to the timing of the emerald ash borer.
What challenges does that bring to the woodlands or in the landscape?
Ash trees deteriorate rapidly. However, it doesn’t hurt the wood. Unfortunately, when they start to go downhill, they break apart. Other things start to happen when the tree can’t defend itself anymore. Ash are pretty hazardous to work with. Harvest your ash trees and offset the costs. In some properties, it can be 20-30 percent. Reach out to foresters in your local area. Consulting foresters will help you with making decisions.
Can you recommend other trees for replacing damaged ash trees?
Learn from the elm tree story. Replace with more than one species of tree. I recommend planting with a diversity of tree species. Consider a diversity of native species. We have an abundance of native plant species in the United States. Kentucky has over 100 native tree species. Pick the right tree for the right site. There is more than one choice. Take note of how wet the area and the soil type. Do you power lines overhead? Maybe you can choose something smaller. Looking for ideas? Visit a local garden or arboretum to get ideas.
A few of Dr. Ellen’s favorite trees:
Large shade trees: Oak species. Good shape. Good for wildlife.
Great fall color? Black Gum is an underused tree that has good fall color.
Statement piece for winter?
- Kentucky coffee tree.
- Catalpa tree.
- Bald cypress. Deciduous conifer. https://www.uky.edu/hort/Bald-Cypress
Smaller trees? Yellow wood. Serviceberry.
Laurie Thomas, Extension Forester with UK Forestry and Natural Resources spotlights a Native Tree of the Week during From the Woods Today program. To find out more information, go to https://anr.ca.uky.edu/tree-week-0.
KY Invasive Plant Council- native alternates to invasive plants
If someone wanted to learn more about emerald ash borer, what resource or website would be good for them to visit?
University of Kentucky Extension Entomology’s Department for Emerald Ash Borer: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/entfact/kentucky-emerald-ash-borer-eab-resources-updates
Purdue University Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator: https://int.entm.purdue.edu/ext/treecomputer/
I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today on the Emerald Ash Borer and the damage it can cause. A special thank you to Dr. Ellen Crocker for providing her expertise and being a guest on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
If you would like to see the show notes from Episode 17, make sure to visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture. You can find us at warrencountyagriculture.com. Thanks for listeners gardeners! As always, keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!
Winter time is the perfect time to plan for the garden. Have you ever thought about plants that would be best for creating winter interest? These plants provide beautiful winter interest through exfoliating bark, unique foliage, and interesting berries, fruits, and even cones. In this episode, I am chatting with Dr. Win Dunwell, University of Kentucky Extension Horticulture Specialist who’s area of specialization is Nursery and Landscape. In our chat, he recommends several winter hardy plants that would make ideal candidates for providing winter interest in Kentucky’s garden and landscape. To listen to the full episode, stay with me right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
Plants with Winter Features:
Ilex species Winter Red Ilex verticillate- still one of the best
Aronia arbutifolia Brilliantissima
Hammamelis virginiana Sunglow
Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis’ / Dragon’s Eye Japanese red pine.
Remontant azaleas – Autumn Royalty
Tulip tree the left over seeds heads after seed has blown away look like little candelabras can be cut for table settings
Edgeworthia chrysantia zone 7 blooms over long period white creamy fragrant blooms on bare coarse stems.
Barks – lighting trunks
Persimmon bark dark blocks Host plant to Luna Moth
Sycamore London Plane tree cultivars look great in the winter back yard with trunk lighting
Leave perennials and grasses foliage and seed heads
Rhodea japonica green leaves and fruit (later than Jack in the pulpit or Green Dragon)
Hellebores I have SunShine Selections from Barry Glick’s Sunshine Farm and Gardens in West VA
Yucca Color Guard
Lycoris radiata foliage
Arbovitaes turn brown but Eastern Red Cedar cultivars like Greenpoint and Taylor along with Juniperus chinesis Trautman
Rose Hips Rosa rugosa, Carefree series, even Knockouts
Tips for hips:
Select roses with single, semi-double, or otherwise cupped-bloom form.
Stop pruning around September 1st.
Provide adequate irrigation with good drainage.
Encourage pollinators, like bees and other insects, to visit your roses by creating a naturalized edge or hedgerow.
Allow blossoms to fade and fall off of the plant naturally.
Uses for hips:
Clip single or clusters of rose hips and use in floral arrangements, wreaths, and holiday garland.
Wash, remove stems and coarsely chop for use in recipes to make jams, jellies, juices, and more. (Never use rose petals or hips sprayed with chemicals in any food product.)
Walk in the woods the leaves of spring flowering native orchids are showy on the brown leaves of the trees leaves especially the one with green top and purple underside to the leaf, Tipularia discolor, Cranefly orchid, Aplectrum hyemale, Putty-root. The leaves are more showy than the flower stalks. Once you have seen the leaves and flowers you will find them very common to the area where they occur.
Cornus mas and C. officinales bloom Feb-March
I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today over Creating Winter Interest in the Garden! To view the show notes for Episode 14, make sure to visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture.
A big thank you to Dr. Win Dunwell for being our guest!
Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
Gardeners keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!
It is safe to say that the lawn is no longer actively growing and is in for a long winter’s nap! Even though the lawn is considered dormant, it is important to practice caution with the winter lawn to avoid any setbacks for the upcoming season!
One major area of concern for winter lawns is the physical damage to it. Foot traffic and parking cars on winter lawns should be avoided to prevent further harm to the turf crowns. Leaves should also be removed and mulched to avoid any shading to the lawn.
Be aware and select de-icing materials that will not be harmful to the home landscape and turf. Rocks salts, calcium acetate, magnesium and potassium chloride, and urea are all harmful to turf, trees and shrubs! It is best to avoid these products, but if it can’t be helped, make sure to follow these basic guidelines:
- Shovel ice and snow away as soon as possible and continue to exercise this routine frequently throughout the winter. Smaller amounts of de-icing material are less likely to wreak havoc to turf and nearby landscape plants.
- Use deicers sparingly and never exceed the rate listed on the label.
- Urea containing deicers should be avoided. They are said to be ineffective at lower temperatures, and the runoff sends excess nitrogen into the water supply.
For more information, make sure to contact your local Extension Office in your area.
Do you have trouble establishing a good stand of grass in your home lawn? Do you notice bare spots? Do you have more weeds than grass? If you answered yes to any of these questions, fall is the absolute time to carry out several home lawn improvement practices to help improve the appearance of your Kentucky home lawn. Today on episode 11 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast, I am sharing the top 4 secrets to improving your home lawn this fall. For all the details, stay right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
#1. When is the best time to perform lawn care practices in Kentucky? The turf care calendar for cool season lawns in Kentucky is found at the beginning of this guide. It shows each month of the year and highlights the best and second best times to perform specific lawn care practices for the Kentucky lawn. There are also foot notes located at the bottom of the page that gives more explanations related to the specific lawn care practices.
#2. Select the right grass for the Kentucky lawn. Based on research from the University of Kentucky, turf-type tall fescue performs the best for Kentucky Home Lawns. Tall fescue has good qualities including: There are also some slight drawbacks which include good traffic tolerance. For a link to see the publication on Selecting the Right Grass for your Kentucky Lawn, make sure to see the show notes. This publication explores the different types of grass species that can be grown in Kentucky and lists major qualities and problems associated with each grass type. Recommendations for the top performing varieties of tall fescue and other cool-season grasses are also included in this guide.
#3. Soil Test, Soil Test, Soil Test! The secret to having a nice looking lawn is by conducting a soil test. I often say that the secret to good plant growth is through the soil and by testing the soil, this process gives homeowners the exact recommendations of lime and fertilizer rates needed to reach optimum plant growth. To improve the appearance of the lawn, first start with a soil test.
To test the soil for a home lawn, sample the top 2 to 4 inches of soil using a garden shovel or trowel. Collect soil from different locations in the lawn at random and make sure to avoid getting any grass clippings or leaves when sampling. Some people sample their front and back yards separately. Place soil in a clean five-gallon bucket. Repeat this same process 10 to 12 times and mix all the samples together. If there is any excess moisture in the soil, allow the sample to dry on newspaper for 24 hours.
After collecting soil, bring samples to the local extension office. Some basic information about the crop being grown is needed to go along with the sample before being mailed. There is a small fee to pay for conducting a soil test, but I assure you that it is the best money that you will spend since it gives you the exact amounts for lime and fertilizer that is needed. When results come back, extension agents review and sign the soil test recommendations. Soil test results generally take about 7 to 10 days to be processed.
#4. When should I fertilize my home lawn? Fertilization is an important part of maintaining a home lawn. Fall is the absolute best time to fertilize cool season grasses in the Kentucky home lawn. By performing this practice in the fall, the root system is stronger and can make it through the winter months. September, October, and November are the best months to apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations.
The number of times nitrogen fertilizer is applied depends on the lawn quality desired. Most general home lawns with no irrigation system are maintained at the low to medium maintenance levels. These levels require either one or two applications of nitrogen. Make sure to have the soil tested to know these exact recommendations for the home lawn.
If interested in knowing more information about home lawn fertilization, make sure to see the link in the show notes to achieve the publication for Fertilizing your Lawn, AGR-212.
While I know that I gave the top 4 secrets to improving your home lawn this fall, I also have a free resource that I am offering up today that can offer more help in home lawn improvement practices! This free resource is called the Home Lawn Improvement Guidebook. This guidebook will assist you in making the best decisions for how and when to improve the appearance of your Kentucky lawn. Material in this guidebook is provided by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Turf Specialists and other Extension Professionals. If you would like a copy of this guidebook, make sure to contact the Warren County Extension Service at (270) 842-1681 or contact Kristin Hildabrand at email@example.com.
I hope that you enjoyed this episode of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! For more information about today’s show, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture.
To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. By hitting the subscribe button, you will be notified of future shows where gardening tips and tricks will be shared to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over your Kentucky garden.
Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! I hope to see you again soon when the sun shines again!
Turf Care Calendar: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/agr/agr55/agr55.pdf
Selecting the Right Grass for your Kentucky Lawn: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR52/AGR52.pdf
Fertilizing your Lawn AGR-212: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/AGR/AGR212/AGR212.pdf.
Last week, a client sent me a photo of a hammerhead worm. To be honest, I had never seen one or even heard of it before. I thought this article would shed more light on this unique creature. Read here to find out more information about hammerhead worms.
Hammerhead worms are earthworm and mollusk predators and have been a problem in earthworm farms. These are terrestrial planarians. They are able to detect secretions left by earthworms in the soil, and then track, kill, and consume those earthworms. They are able to kill earthworms many times their size as hammerhead worms can use a neurotoxin (tetrodotoxin) to paralyze the worm. Hammerhead worms have the potential to greatly impact local earthworm populations. These hammerhead worms have few predators.
Reproduction can be sexual, or asexual as all the species are hermaphroditic. Some species can use fragmentation, fission of posterior body fragments. These diverse reproductive strategies enable hammerhead worms to spread rapidly.
While there are native hammerhead worm species, this species appears to be invasive from southeastern Asia; however, I am not able to confirm this. This species is widely distributed and has been in the United States for over a century.
Information for this article was taken from Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist Kentucky Pest News article published on September 8, 2020 found at https://kentuckypestnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/08/hammerhead-worms/.
Home gardeners have finally gotten warm-season vegetable crops planted in their home vegetable gardens. Now, you may wonder, “What should I do next?” Today on episode 7 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast, I am sharing 4 secrets on how to keep your garden looking attractive to finish strong for the month of May! Stay with me for more details right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!
#1- Use Companion Planting Strategies.
Gardeners have planted several warm-season vegetables in the garden this month! They may have planted a nice mixture of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, and sweet corn. Alongside these vegetables, gardeners should consider planting culinary herbs since they serve as a great companion plant. Companion planting is defined as planting two or more crops near each other crops in the vegetable garden to gain benefits for the home gardener. It has been shown to maximize vegetable yields, improve pest management, increase nutrient uptake, and enhance pollination with some crops.
Planting herbs around vegetables invite beneficial organisms to the garden. Herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley attract beneficial insects to feed and find shelter to support various stages of predatory and parasitic insects. Lady beetles, lacewings, praying mantids, and spiders are among those organisms that are attracted to aromatic culinary herbs. Not only are companion plantings good for attracting beneficial insects, they also draw in native pollinators. Some examples of culinary herbs to make room for in the garden are basil and oregano. Basil is a good herb for planting around tomatoes and provides shelter for a number of beneficial insects such as lady beetles and lacewings. Oregano is the pizza herb to use for seasoning pizza dishes at home.
Another plant that comes to mind with companion planting is marigolds. Several gardeners plant this warm season flower every year in their garden to protect vegetables from harmful insects. Research has shown that the roots of marigolds produce biochemical that are poisonous to minute worm-like organisms that can cause damage to plants.
To discover other possibilities of companion plants to use in the home vegetable garden, make sure to see the show notes. I have included a table that lists crops that do well when planted next to each other in the home vegetable garden.
|Corn||Beans, Cucumbers, English Pea, Irish Potato, |
|Cucumber||Beans, Cabbage, Corn, English Pea, Radish, Sunflowers|
|Eggplant||Basil, Beans, Catnip, Lemon Grass, Marigold|
|Okra||Peppers, Squash, Sweet Potatoes|
|Pepper||Basil, Clover, Marjoram, Tomato|
|Squash||Nasturtium, Corn, Marigold|
|Sweet Potato||Okra, Peppers, Sunflowers|
|Tomato||Asparagus, Basil, Carrot, Cucumber, |
Marigold, Onions, Parsley, Rosemary
Source: ATTRA publication on
Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources
#2- Provide vegetable plants with water after being planted.
It is important to provide plants with water after being planted in the ground. Carry out watering routines in the morning between the hours of 6am and 10am. This time frame allows plants plenty of time to dry off during the day. Avoid splashing the foliage with water to reduce foliar diseases.
While it may be expensive, drip irrigation is a convenient way to provide consistent soil moisture to plants. Water is targeted at the base of the plant which is then absorbed by the root system.
Here are critical times to water common vegetable crops in the home garden.
- Cucumber- flowering and fruit development
- Eggplant- uniform supply from flowering through harvest
- Melon- fruit set and early development
- Pepper- uniform supply from flowering through harvest
- Summer squash- bud development, flowering, and fruit development
- Sweet Corn- silking, tasseling, and ear development
- Tomato- uniform supply from flowering through harvest
#3- Apply fresh organic mulch.
Mulch can offer several benefits to the home gardener! It helps conserve soil moisture by creating a barrier between the soil and the air, controls weeds by blocking the sunlight, and is aesthetically pleasing and attractive to the garden.
Apply 2 to 4 inches of fresh mulch around plants to help conserve soil moisture and reduce weeds. If you desire an organic mulch, layers of newspaper or straw are good mulches to consider. These mulches will return nutrients into the ground after they have decomposed. Another option would be inorganic mulch like black plastic. This type of mulch will reduce weeds and encourage earlier planting for crops by 2 weeks.
#4- Side-dress vegetables at the correct time.
In order for vegetables to produce lush, continuous growth throughout the season, they require a uniform supply of nutrients. Gardeners should side-dress vegetable transplants at the correct time and at the recommended rate to give them an extra supply of nutrients needed for continuous growth throughout the season.
Here are the recommended times for side-dressing common vegetables in the home garden.
- Cucumber- apply 1 week after blossoming begins and Eggplant- after first fruit set
- Peppers- after first fruit set
- Squash- additional nitrogen might reduce yield or lower quality
- Sweet corn- when plants are 12 inches tall
- Tomatoes- apply 1 to 2 weeks before first picking and same amount 2 weeks after first picking
I hope that you found this information helpful today. If you would like additional information on other gardening tasks to perform this month, make sure to see the show notes on the blog at Warren County Agriculture to find the May Gardening Checklist that I have created. It lists other activities to do in and around the home garden. To view this checklist, visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture, https://warrencountyagriculture.com/. Feel free to leave any questions that you might have or make any additional comments on the blog.
As always, make sure to tune in with me for more gardening information each week right here on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! Each week, I plan to share seasonal gardening tips and tricks to help gardeners reach their gardening goals and to help the sun shine a little brighter over their Kentucky garden. To stay up to date on all the latest episodes, hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts.
Make sure to leave me a review on iTunes, so I can know what future gardening information to share with you each week. To help sweeten the deal, the first 10 subscribers to leave me a review on iTunes will receive a gardening prize.
Gardeners keep digging into gardening and remember to add a little sunshine!
Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, ID-128- http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf
It’s officially a New Year! Avid gardeners setting goals this year have the best of intentions, but then life happens and it steers them away from their goals. Make 2019 a more successful gardening season with SMART goals! SMART goals give gardeners more direction, which helps them accomplish their gardening goals during the busy season. Read on to discover more about the basic principles of SMART gardening goals, so you can apply them!
SPECIFIC & START SMALL
Gardening is the number one hobby and activity for most Americans and it has a lot of areas to cover from flower gardening, vegetable gardening, herb gardening, and even edible landscaping. So when setting goals, be more specific rather than general. Instead of making the goal “I want to grow a garden this year”, make statements like “I want to install two, 4’ x 8’ raised bed gardens in the back yard to grow a pizza garden this year.” This garden goal is more specific than the first statement.
The other part of the S is to start small. It seems that gardeners make several resolutions at the beginning of the year and can’t make them all happen at once. It takes time to make a behavior a habit, so focus on one goal at a time. If installing 2 new raised bed gardens this year, wait and add more later in the fall or even next year before installing 10 at one time. Try and not overwhelm yourself.
Secondly, make goals measurable by giving yourself checkpoints like daily, weekly, and monthly to cross. Go a step further and give yourself a mid-year and end of the year step. Feel free to add a few other steps in between if needed. By placing checkpoints along the way, goals are much more “do-able”. Plus, it makes it easier to focus on the checkpoints rather than the big goal.
Evaluate the goals and find out if it is achievable. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you have the ability to complete the goal? Do you have the right skills or tools needed to reach that specific goal? Is the goal realistic for you? If you answered no to those questions, don’t feel bad. Simply adapt and change the goals to make it easier to accomplish. Don’t set yourself up for failure. You are hoping to make improvements in the New Year, not go backwards!
Make sure that the goal is relevant to YOU! What garden goal is the most important to YOU and would bring YOU joy? If the garden goal fits both categories, there is a greater desire to keep after the goal to make improvements for the gardening season. If you have multiple goals, ask yourself the “why” part of the garden goal. For example, the reason that “I want to install one 4’ x 8’ raised bed garden in the back yard to grow a pizza garden this year” is to serve as a form of exercise and reap the benefits of the harvest by using the fresh ingredients to make fresh homemade pizzas at home to feed my family.
Lastly, have a deadline in mind of when you want to cross the finish line for the goal. With gardening, it is best to first organize thoughts, make a plan on paper, and then attack the plan as far as crossing those daily, weekly, and monthly checkpoints.
For the garden goal of “I want to install one 4’ x 8’ raised bed garden in the back yard to grow a pizza garden this year”, plan it out on paper and make a list. It may look something like this:
- First of January- Do research & plan out the 2 raised gardens on grid paper.
- By January 31st– Purchase all seeds for plants and building materials for raised beds.
- By mid- to late-February- Start vegetable seeds under a grow light in the basement.
- March- Build and install my raised bed garden frame. Make sure it is in the right location.
- April- Purchase and fill the raised bed gardens with high quality garden soil.
- May- Plant small vegetable transplants in the ground after the danger of frost has passed.
- May through July- Care for plants daily. Water, fertilize, and check for insects. Remove diseased plants when necessary.
After writing out your garden goals, display them in an area that you frequently visit. Some people may choose to put them on the refrigerator door, in their calendar or planner, or on their personal computer. Pick the best spot for you because this spot will serve as a friendly reminder for those life moments.
Lastly with SMART garden goals, take time to celebrate your successes when completing those goals! Visit an out-of-state arboretum with other gardening friends! Attend a new gardening class. Buy a new plant for the landscape. Whatever it takes to stay motivated, do it!
Kristin G. Hildabrand, Warren County Extension Agent for Horticulture Education
We all love to decorate with pumpkins! So, what happens to all the pumpkins after the Halloween season is over? Before tossing those pumpkins, read over this article to find a few ideas of ways to reuse and re-purpose decorating pumpkins.
- Eat pumpkin! Pumpkin is a nutritious food to consume. They are low in fat and sodium and are an excellent source of vitamin A and fiber. To prepare fresh pumpkin at home, wash the pumpkin and cut lengthwise. Remove the guts of the pumpkin and set aside. Place the pumpkin in a baking dish and bake in the oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour or until tender.
Use fresh pumpkin in the Plate it up! Kentucky Proud recipes for the pumpkin apple muffins for breakfast or make fall spiced pumpkin bread to serve as a bread or dessert. Don’t forget that the pumpkin seeds can be eaten too! Take the seeds and roast them in the oven. Add your favorite seasonings and you have a healthy snack or seasonal salad topper.
- Make a pumpkin bird feeder! This is a fun project and activity to do at home. It involves the kids plus it helps to feed the birds at the same time!
To make the pumpkin bird feeder, use a small to medium sized pumpkin and with a sharp knife cut into it and remove all the guts of the pumpkin. To make the hanger for the bird feeder, take heavy-duty string and tie it in a knot on the sides of the pumpkin by drilling a hole. Another option is to place the string around the sides of the pumpkin, in the grooves, and secure it down with clear tape. Tie the string together in a knot if using several pieces of string. Place birdseed in the center of the pumpkin, based on the birds you wish to attract. If you want to provide a place for the birds to perch while feeding, add tree branches or small twigs on the side of the pumpkin. Hang up the finished pumpkin bird feeder in a tree and watch the feathery friends from your favorite window.
- Create a table centerpiece using smaller pumpkins! Grab a white plate, small pumpkins, and collect fall clippings from trees and shrubs from around the landscape to create a simple fall centerpiece for the table. To begin, place one type of tree cutting on the bottom of the white plate to serve as the base. In the picture below, we used a deciduous shrub showing bright red berries. Then, place the small pumpkins on top of the shrub clippings. Make sure to use an odd number of pumpkins like 3’s or 5’s. Next, add another type of colorful fall foliage like the red maple leaves around the pumpkins for a little accent color. It is fine to use artificial leaves, if the real leaves have already gone by for the season. For some embellishment, place small raffia bows around the stems of the pumpkins. Personalize pumpkins with a Thanksgiving greeting or blessing for the table. Have fun and be creative!
- Lastly, recycle the pumpkin to the compost pile! It is always good to return nutrients to the soil by composting it. Cut up the pumpkin(s) into sections or quarters and add it to the compost pile. Add water and turn it often with a garden fork to incorporate with other materials in the pile. In a few short months, the compost pile will reduce in size and the finished compost product will smell earthy, feel crumbly, and appear dark in color.
Kristin G. Hildabrand
Horticulture Extension Agent for Warren County