Local Plant Sales 2015

April 18, 25, May 2 – Kirkwood Farmers Market – Missouri Wildflowers – note – you can call them ahead of time and pickup on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

April 23/24 – Meramec Community College – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

April 24 -25  –  8 a.m. -6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-Noon Saturday—Webster Groves Garden Club Spring Plant Sale.  Webster Groves Recreational Center, 33 E. Glendale Rd., Webster Groves. http://www.mgcwg.org.

April 25 at 8:30 am – Webster Groves Herb Society is having their annual herb sale on Saturday, First Congregational Church of Webster Groves, corner of Lockwood and Elm.

May 2nd-3rd – 9 a.m. -3 p.m.— St. Louis Master Gardener Plant Sale. The greenhouse on South Technical High School campus, 12721 West Watson Rd. Sunset Hills, 63127.

May 9Shaw Nature Reserve – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pre-sale to members on Friday – 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Note – if you know of any other plant sales, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

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#2 Sharpened Pencil – a Gardening Tool?

While most people think of hoes and clippers and spades as normal gardening tools, the one I am using most often right now is a regular #2 sharpened pencil. If you look at the picture below you will see ten plants and roots all mixed together in on smallish cell. Most people start ripping everything apart, but a new technique I learned recently was to tease the roots apart with a pencil. This makes it much easier to separate the plants for re-potting.

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The second way I’m using a pencil is to make a hole in some wet potting soil for any new cuttings that I am trying to root.

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The final way I use a #2 pencil is for making labels. Forget the permanent markers, a #2 soft lead pencil will create a nice label that will not wash off and will last all season. I cut up old plastic Venetian blinds and use them for plant markers.

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Monarchs in St. Louis

While I personally have not seen any Monarchs, according to Journey North, they have been spotted in the St. Louis area. I’ve got some Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed coming up, so they do have some plants to lay eggs on.

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April Flowers for Butterflies

If you are looking to add some color to your yard, here are three options which are blooming right now. They are all perennials that will come back year after year. They will attract butterflies, although the populations are just beginning.

The top picture is Wild Sweet William – Phlox divaricata. It will stay green all summer long and has this pretty flower most of April. It’s a Missouri native and is available from
http://www.mowildflowers.net/

The second flower is called Bluebells – Mertensia virginica. It will disappear after a couple of months and will reappear next year. It’s a Missouri native and is available from
http://www.mowildflowers.net/

The final two flowers are Viburnum. I don’t have the exact species. They smell just like a Parisian perfume – only better. This plant turns into a fairly large bush, but can be pruned to keep it to a manageable size. Your local nursery should have this bush.

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Till vs No-Till Gardening

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I saw a recent article by Organic Gardening talking about preparing your soil for planting in the spring.  The article titled, “Preparing Your Soil in Spring,”talks about working your soil to get it ready. They don’t use the word till, but do talk about working it, which is pretty much the same.

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/preparing-soil-spring

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On the same Organic Gardening site they have an article on the benefits of no-till gardening.  There conclusion is that no-till is both good for the gardener, the soil and the planet.

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/no-till-gardening?page=0,1

So what should a home gardener do?

While I’ve been a conventional gardener in the past, because I’ve had mostly perennial beds I have ended up basically in the no-till camp. I’m going to go even farther this year and use no fertilizer, but instead use compost and cover crops to improve my soils. Most of my research comes from the USDA-NRCS and their videos on YouTube which show the advantages of this method for conventional farms, but which should also apply to home gardeners.

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Hummingbird Status

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While my main focus in the garden is butterflies, I also like to encourage hummingbirds to come and visit. Hummers like to use many of the same flowers that butterflies prefer, so it’s really easy to get them to come and visit.

I also like to put up feeders, but then the question is , “What date is the best?”

If you go to the website http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html, it will show you exactly where the hummingbirds are and help you predict when they will reach St. Louis.

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Cover Crops in the Home Garden

One of the new ways of farming and gardening is to use cover crops to improve the soil structure and nutrients, instead of the traditional tilling and chemical fertilizers. I decided to try this on a test area that I use mainly for tropical milkweed. It’s one of the few areas in my yard that is open enough to plant extra seed.

March 16th I planted the Interseed Mix from Walnut Creek Seeds. I used half the packet and will reserve half in case the first seeding does poorly.  I will later on plant my milkweed and hope all the crops will co-exist.

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