Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tips on Soil Testing

I recently read a great article about soil testing and I wanted to share it with you.  You can usually find a soil testing lab through your local extension office.

Here's a part of the articlae:

The first two things a test should indicate, said Lazaneo, is the soil’s pH — how acidic or alkaline it is — and its salinity. “The pH affects the availability of nutrients to the plant. Most plants grow best in slightly acidic soil — pH of six to seven — unless they are ‘acid-loving’ plants such as blueberries. Those need a pH of around five. If the pH is too high, you can correct it by adding soil sulfur or acidifying elements such as peat moss. Salinity tests how salty the soil is. Plants don’t grow well in soil with a high salt content, whether the salt comes from fertilizers, manure, irrigation water, or other sources. Enough water must be applied by either rain or irrigation to leach away the excess salts from the root zone. But if your soil has poor drainage, the water can’t do that.”

Lazaneo said that to check drainage, “You dig a hole around a foot deep, and fill it with water two times. Then you see how long it takes to drain the second time. If it stays in the hole for a day, the plant’s roots will drown in that soil. In that case, you would need to install a drain line or consider planting in a raised bed or a container like a half-barrel.”

Have you done a soil test?  and if so, did you make any changes to your soil and what was the result?

Happy Digging!

Doreen aka the Garden Goddess

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gardening Tips for the last of the HOT months in Phoenix!

This gardening tip update is courtesy of Gro-Well, a Phoenix-area company who creates great garden products.

Don't forget to feed your fruit trees thius weekend!!

August is tough month to garden, but it does offer hope for the end of summer. Heat and humidity, battles with insects, and a constant need to water can wear out even the most enthusiastic gardener. Take it easy and save your gardening fervor for the months ahead.

However, here are a few suggestions for August gardening:

Make sure your trees and shrubs are getting enough water to get them through the rest of the summer. The monsoons cannot be relied on to water your garden - wind and no rain. Be sure you double check your staked trees after a storm to make sure they haven't blown over, and re-stake if necessary. Also look for wind damaged branches in your mature trees and have them removed. And be sure to seal all the cuts with pruning paint.

If you have the energy and can take the heat and humidity you can start getting your vegetable garden ready for another planting whether you're going for a late round of summer crops (squash, tomatoes, beans) or an early start for a fall/winter garden (lettuce, chard, carrots, beets, radishes). Take advantage of the warm soil with some winter seeds ready to plant. Most of your nursery’s and garden center’s seed racks have been restocked for fall planting. Look or ask for free seed planting guides, indicating what to plant depending on the time of year. Be sure to work plenty of organic matter into the soil whether Nature’s Way or Forest Magic Organic Compost or Organic Mulch – anything intended for in-ground planting.

Continue fertilizing flowers or plants that may be nutrient depleted from the monsoon rains. Arizona’s Best All Purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer is ideal for use during the summer months. Apply to plants that have turned pale green or have reduced growth. It’s a well balanced fertilizer, not too much nitrogen, to keep your plants healthy throughout the summer months.

If you have citrus trees and follow the three times a year fertilization schedule, then you have to make the final application by the end of August or early September, using Arizona’s Best 13-10-4 Citrus Food (and water in thoroughly, keeping any fertilizer off of the trunk of the tree). Late summer application of fertilizer helps fruit sizing. This is more significant for fall ripening (navels & tangerines) than spring ripening (Grapefruit and Valencia orange) varieties. This fertilizer is also suitable for stone fruit trees, grapes, berries, just about anything edible that grows on a tree, shrub or vine.

This is the last month to plant Bermuda lawns during the active growing season. Fertilize established Bermuda grass lawns every four to six weeks using Arizona’s Best Four Season’s Lawn Food according to the directions on the bag. Apply Iron once per month according to the label directions on the package.

Cut back on fertilizing established roses to encourage plants to slow down for the hot summer. Water your roses deeply as temperatures climb. Hose off plants in the early morning to increase humidity and control spider mites. Toward the end of August or into September add an iron supplement if roses show yellowing from iron deficiency.

Apply nitrogen and zinc to pecan trees to produce normal size leaf growth and to enhance kernel development. Pecans also need more water than most other shade trees.

Pay close attention to the irrigation needs of your landscape plants. Increase water application as the weather warms. Apply mulch to the ground around the base of heat sensitive plants to keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk. Apply chelated iron to bottle brush, pyracantha, gardenias and other plants with iron deficiency symptoms. Cut off spent blooms to stimulate re-blooming.

Native and imported heat tolerant plants, including palms, can be planted right through the summer months. They will need to be watered and fertilized on a regular basis until fall. Protect newly transplanted trees from heavy winds by staking properly

Late August or early September fertilization will benefit most plants struggling to have a flush of growth before slowing down for the winter. The growth put on before dormancy will store more energy during the winter that will be available to the plant when it pushes growth in the spring.

Wait to replace any dead plants. October is the ideal month to do any replanting, when the weather is cooler but the soil is still warm – ideal conditions for growing new roots. Remove dead plants now and be ready to plant when the weather breaks this fall.

Avoid any heavy pruning of trees and shrubs this time of year. Removing any leafy growth opens the center of the plant to direct sunlight, which can cause scorching of lower leaves, branches and trunk, not used to direct sunlight.

August is another of the survival months. Your goal is to get your plants through the remaining high heat of summer and into fall. You'll want to get there too, so don't stress yourself out when your plants don't look as good as they could, because they won’t.

just keep hydrated out their while gardeing in these fianl hot days of summer!

Happy Digging,  Doreen
The Garden Goddess

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kohlrabi are YUMMY

These are kohlrabi. Kohlrabi are in the broccoli family; both the root and the leaves are edible.

So what do you *do* with them? Lots and lots; from : "Cut into slices or wedges and add to Chinese stir-fry or Indian curry. Combine peeled kohlrabi with potato when making scalloped potatoes. Dip kohlrabi slices or sticks into tempura batter and deep-fry. Add shredded kohlrabi to coleslaw for extra crunch."

This is how I ate mine recently and they were delicious!  Roasted Kohlrabi. Dice the peeled kohlrabi, toss with olive oil, garlic and salt, then roast in a 450-degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring the cubes every five minutes once you've reached the 20 minute mark. Once they're done, serve immediately as is, or toss with your favorite vinegar.

Then I saved the leaves and steamed them in a stir fry!

MMM - What are you eating from the garden now?

Happy Digging,

The Garden Goddess

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A freeze is hiting Phoenix area the next three nights!

I hope your winter weather these next few days is not too tough on you or your plants. I just made a pot of soup with greens and herbs from the garden.

All outdoor plants will need to be covered the next three nights in the Phoenix Metro area. With lows forecasted in the 20’s, this will definitely harm landscape plants as well as your gardens. It will be windy too so be sure to secure the frost cover with something so it doesn’t blow away. I used large river rocks, pots without plants and even binder clips!

If you can bring potted plants onto a covered porch or patio, next to the house, that will help protect them. Protect the citrus trees with old-style Christmas lights (a little heat) and then a cover. Works for the other plants as well.
Remember, the frost cloth needs to drape all the way to the ground to be most effective. And put them on just before sundown to keep the heat from the sun that is in the soil.

 You can leave the frost cloth on for a few days without much risk, but no more than that!

Here's a few good articles on protecting plants from frost:

Wishing you and your plants well!

The Garden Goddess


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