If you have a question about gardening in the Birmingham area, ask John. John Floyd has been gardening–and learning about gardening–for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience in the garden, John has degrees in horticulture, plant taxonomy, and plant physiology from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.
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First, pollen is with us most of the spring, but the heaviest time will be in the next few weeks. I would not worry about the pine straw being put down (because there will be more pollen all spring) unless your yard is full of trees, especially pine. If your straw has a yellow pollen build up, just spray it with a high-pressure garden hose, and that should handle cleaning the pine straw.
You make a good point. More is written about what NOT to do than the right way to handle Crepe myrtles. First, remember, they are trees, and if yours has been badly pruned in the past, I would recommend one of the following:
First remove all crossed or branches that rub against each other.
After that, stand back and look at the tree, and see how many original trunks or shoots the plant had. If is was a multi-stem plant, the goal is to keep that quality of the plant. If at the point where each branch has been pruned, you have multiple branches, I would remove at the break point all but one, three or so branches, and remove all others. This will encourage them to grow and create a nice multi-stem form over a period of years. If you can reach to old seed pod, snip it off, but it is not necessary. Now relax, and enjoy them recovering. They will make nice trees again in a few years. If your trees are in very bad shape and have been cut back to just big trunks, I would cut them to within a foot of the ground and start creating a new multi-stem tree. Once the plant breaks, and starts putting up new shoots, select three to five per trunk, and cut off all others. Allow these shoots to grow, and hopefully in a few years, they will produce a handsome specimen.
If you think your soil is really heavy, 40% probably would be fine. But remember, if it is too sandy, watering in the summer is going to be almost daily during dry periods. When I read your note, my first thought was 20% thoroughly mixed, especially if you can add lots of organic matter. One thing is important: Many times with new raised beds, while their first year of production may be okay or good, the second year and forward should improve. This is because the decomposition of the added organic matter and the turning of the soil will help the soils texture and porosity.
First, it really depends where you are located, but for the sake of this discussion I am going to assume the Gulf Coast. The only gardening area in that part of the world that I am familiar with is around the Destin/Seaside area. First and foremost, for the last two years this area has had tough freezes. When I was in the area last month, most evergreens had suffered some cold damage, but I expect most of these plants will recover. Be patient, and realize all the damaged leaves will drop off, and new ones will appear. As the new foliage breaks start growing, fertilize lightly with a product like 6-12-12. Or use something that is low in nitrogen (the first number), compared to the other numbers. Remember, with sandy soils, you will need to keep things that are not native watered during dry periods. Also, adding organic is always a good idea when planting anything.
In fact, we pruned one about this time last year at the Botanical Gardens, reduced its size about 50%, and it did fine. Remember, when you prune, go deep into the plant and remove the limbs with good pruning tools (see post on pruning tools), and make clean cuts. Once the new growth starts, I would do two things: Mix one heaping tablespoon of epsom salt in a gallon of water (make sure it dissolves), and pour it around the base of the plant, and fertilize it lightly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer (first number on the bag needs to be low).
Not really, but the way you see them pruned around town is not correct. Remember, they are trees and should be treated like you would a dogwood or flowering cherry. Only remove crossed branches and those branches that destroy their shape. Hacking them off at some height is a very bad way to prune them, and does not produce a beautiful plant (or should I say tree). There are excellent selections on the market that will grow to almost any size you desire, from about 3 feet tall and up.
First, moving is advisable if your neighbors are not going to take care of their roses. And yes, apples will grow and produce fruit in pots, assuming they are large enough (would say a minimum of 35 gallons). The best time to transplant it is in winter, so if you move it now, the risk of it not making it goes up dramatically. Do not even try to transplant it if the buds are already swollen.
My first thought was if it is a fine silt and clay mix, how friable (crumbly when squeezed) is it? If the soil is not heavy, I probably would add organic matter, like spaghnum peat moss. Be sure and mix well whatever you add to your soil. If the soil holds water, and you think it needs better drainage, I think the sand would be fine. Just remember that once you get the soil mixed to the texture you desire, make sure that it has plenty of organic matter (avoid bark mixes and bark mulch). Compost is great for this, as well as processed cow manure (Black Cow brand is excellent). Send us some photos of the bed when things start growing.
This is not a good answer. There is not much you can do if the grass is greening up. If the grass is still dormant, spot spraying with roundup will get it, but you risk injuring your grass this late using this method. Hand pulling–which I don’t do–works, but the best thing is to apply a pre-emergence herbicide next fall at the proper time for the best control next spring. Until then, keep it cut and bagged, and suffer. See Controlling Poa annua for more details.
I have already started some of mine and will be doing more this week. See “Tending The Garden — February 23, 2015” for how I do it. Let me know if you have more questions after reviewing this post.
I moved mine outside yesterday, but if the temperature falls below 45 degrees I will bring them back inside. If they have been in low light, put them in a semi-shady area until the leaves adjust to the brighter light. By the way, I have a few small fruits already.
Really, I think it is too early. Wait until the end of the month, and then you can start them. By the way, I have a lot of success direct seeding them in my garden in early May. I work the soil, get it very well prepared, seed them according to label directions, and keep them moist until they germinate (come up). Once the true leaves appear, I thin them to about 3 to 4 inches apart and usually have flowers starting in June.
Yes, you can! Here is how I do it. Keep them moist, but not wet, while the flowers are blooming and you are enjoying them. Once the blooms fade, I cut the blooms off to encourage new leaves and shoots. At this point, if the temperature stays above 50 degrees, I put them outside in a shady area. Once the new leaves (shoots) appear, and the danger of frost is past, I plant them outdoors in partial shade or repot them into a larger container. In either case, if the roots are matted, loosen them from growing in a circle where they will establish a vigorous root system.
I haven’t written about them yet, but the Southern Living’s website tells you how they recommend doing it. I intend to do a post on this, but I just haven’t done it yet. Remember, unless you have bought a dwarf selection, they are small trees. From that standpoint, I remove crossed branches and limbs that are leaning, or destroy the shape of the tree, and enjoy their beautiful trunks, flowers, and size.
I would not. Here is what I do with mine. Once the foliage appears, I cut out the dead branches. My buds are swelling now and are coming into bloom. Remember, each bloom has the potential to be a blueberry. Once they have finished blooming, fertilize them lightly. If you want to prune them to control the size, I recommend you do it when they finish fruiting.