GREEN THUMB NURSERY
Green Thumb Nursery Newsletter September 30, 2011 / Ocotber 2011
In This Issue:

   * Sale Items
   * Pansies for Fall and Winter
   * Shrub Planting Guide
   * Computer Security (from G & G Computer Repair)
   * Garden Mums for the Fall
   * Helpful Websites
   * Additional Information

Sale Items

   * Sweet Olive, 3 gallon - $12.99
   * Camellias, 4 gallon - $19.99
   * Roses. 3 gallon - $12.99

Shrub Planting Guide

I am reminded of a movie I once saw in which a man was hovering over a tomato plant which was planted in ground that looked like the backside of the moon with fertilizers, sprays, and soil testing meters at hand cursing, "Grow damn you!" The unfortunate plant, which was the object of his attention, was wilting and had black spots all over the few green leaves that weren't brown. Of course, his loving, supportive wife was standing behind him making helpful comments, "Some Italian, he can't even grow one stinking tomato plant!"

Thankfully most of us do not have black thumbs like the poor man portrayed above. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are those who can make anything grow. If they were to stick their shovel upside down in the ground it would sprout roots and leaves for them. For the rest of us mortals, those who must work at it to get things to grow, just a bit of advice can make the difference between a successful planting or a disaster of dead stems and leaves.

What are the secrets of successful planting?

Do I need to follow carefully laid out steps to ensure my plants will live when I plant them?

Or can I simply dig a hole, put my new plant in it, mulch, water, and fertilize it a little and walk away?

Believe it or not the answer to that second question is yes, but only if you know the subsurface drainage is adequate, the soil contains enough organic matter, and you plan to come back to check on it at regular intervals to ensure the moisture level is correct.

Also, unlike a tomato plant that will thrive even if it's partially buried, it is necessary to be sure that you don't plant too deep. Generally, if you plant too deep you may as well say a farewell prayer and kiss your unfortunate flora goodbye because it will likely die, sooner rather than later.

The answer to the first question is no, you don't need to follow a series of steps. All you need to do is observe the rules. Most plants do not grow well with wet feet. Which means that unlike Louisiana Iris or Bald Cypress trees they will not thrive if their roots never have a chance to dry out a bit.

Subsurface drainage:
If you are planning to plant in an area where other established plants are growing well you should be able to feel confident that a new planting in the same area will do just as well. However if you are planting a new area or perhaps an area that looks to be lower than the surrounding ground you might want to check to be sure the subsurface drainage is adequate.

Check the drainage by digging a small hole (a foot deep is plenty) then fill it with water. Check to see how long it takes for the water to drain away into the ground. If it takes much longer than a few hours then you probably have a drainage problem which will force you to either choose another planting area or raise the plants higher than the surrounding ground by planting in a raised bed or a row.

Organic Matter:
Most nurseries, especially in the southeastern states, grow their container plants either in peat moss mix or in a mix primarily composed of composted pine bark. Both peat moss and composted pine bark are high in organic matter that plants require to thrive. And both can be used as a soil amendment when planting shrubs and trees in the ground. However if you have a compost pile you can use the partially decomposed organic matter (leaf mold) from it instead.

The general rule for soil amendment is: If you have primarily sandy soil you should use either peat moss or leaf mold compost as your soil amendment. However if you have primarily clay soil you should use a more coarse soil amendment such as composted pine bark.

Whatever you use be sure that the organic matter is at least partially decomposed. Using raw or un-composted organic matter will use up nitrogen in the process of decomposition robbing it from the plant. In addition the composting process creates enough heat that could damage plant roots. If the organic matter you use for soil amendment is not composted your plants will have yellow leaves at the least or dead brown ones at the worst.

Planting:
The general rule is to dig the hole about twice as wide as the root ball of the plant and just a little bit deeper. If you have heavy clay soil you should dig the hole one and one half times the depth of the root ball and backfill with a mixture of compost and soil then tamp lightly.

Position the plant so that the top of the root ball is slightly higher than the surrounding ground, at least an inch or two (See graphic to the right. Below the mum article). Straighten the plant then backfill with a mixture of soil and compost. Tamp the soil lightly to firm it around the root ball then apply your favorite mulch over the planting area. Finally, water the plant well checking to be sure there are no low spots where you may not have put enough backfill. Important! Be sure to apply enough water to completely saturate the root ball.

Watering your new plant(s) after planting:
The most frequent cause of plant deaths (other than planting too deep or over fertilizing) is improper watering. If there is no rain after planting your new plants you should check them every day. However they may or may not need watering every day. That will mostly depend on the time of year, the weather, and the subsurface drainage. The best practice is to water when the plant needs it. If the soil underneath the mulch is dry or the plant is wilting that is usually a good indication that watering is required. When you water, be sure to water well enough to saturate the root ball.

However, do not water on a schedule whether the plant needs it or not. If the roots never get a chance to dry out your plant will simply take a little while longer to die than it would have if you had never watered it at all!

Soil conditioner or plant hormone:
There are some who recommend the application of so-called soil conditioners or plant hormones to encourage new root growth. However a less expensive solution of 20-20-20 or 20-10-20 soluble liquid fertilizer will encourage root growth also!

Fertilizer at planting:
If you wish to fertilize at planting time (a good idea) use a fertilizer that has a slow-release type of nitrogen. Timed-release fertilizers such as Osmocote or Nutricote are also great. The fertilizer can be applied either during or after the backfill but if you forget you can always top dress, even on top of the mulch. Just be careful not to wash it all away when watering.

Be careful when choosing fertilizer:
Nitrate based fertilizers release their nitrogen at a rapid rate when drenched with water. Plant roots can be damaged if nitrate fertilizer is applied directly to the top of the root ball.

This is why fertilizers such as 8-8-8 or 13-13-13 are somewhat risky to use when transplanting unless you know this and carefully place the fertilizer well away from the root ball. If nitrate fertilizer is applied directly to the top of the root ball in sufficient quantity the plant will be damaged, usually enough to kill it.

Slow release type fertilizers are either pelletized or chemically altered urea to render the nitrogen mainly water-insoluble. The downside is that these fertilizers are a bit more expensive than nitrate based fertilizer.

Timed-release fertilizers are usually coated to release nitrogen slowly to the plant. An added advantage to these types of fertilizers is that they last much longer, anywhere from three to twelve months, and they can be applied directly to the top of the root ball of the plant.

Be careful, even with slow-release fertilizer. If you discover that you have under fertilized you can always add more later but if you over fertilize it is difficult to remove the excess before the plant is damaged.

Do not use so-called weed and feed lawn products for pot plants, shrubs or trees. This type of fertilizer contains herbicide (usually broadleaf selective herbicide) and will damage or kill your plants.

Wounding or spreading the roots when planting:
It is not usually necessary to either wound or spread the roots when planting. If the roots are disturbed excessively the plant may die. When the weather is hot and dry is an especially bad time to do this.

However if the plant is root bound, meaning that there is a solid mass of roots with no soil showing, the roots can be wounded or spread slightly to encourage even root growth. If the roots must be spread or wounded it is usually a good idea to prune some of the top (the leaves and branches) to compensate for the root loss. Overgrown plants should be pruned before planting in any case.

Pansies for the Fall and Winter

MATRIX PANSIES

Nothing brightens up your yard like a bed of brightly blooming pansies on a cold winter day. And no pansy varieties are better or last longer than Matrix and Majestic Giant II. Both produce large (up to three and a half inch) blooms that stand up and show their faces in both sun and frost.

Matrix comes in both clear colors and blotched forms, but we sell only the clear Matrix colors since the "faces" on the Majestic Giant II varieties are so vivid and traditional.

Pansies are easy to grow if not planted too early. They should be planted in full sun and in a slightly raised bed to ensure good drainage from our frequent winter rains.

Keep them fertilized well and they will reward you with a constant procession of blooms that will last well into the spring when you can replace them with your favorite summer annual. This will ensure that you are never without flowers.

In south Louisiana Pansies should be planted no earlier than mid October and no later than early December. If pansies are planted too early the heat can stunt the young plants. If planted too late they may not have enough warmth to mature properly since Pansy roots grow much slower when temperatures remain below forty-five degrees.

Fertilize pansies at planting time with a solution of 20-10-20 fertilizer and add either Osmocote or Nutricote timed release fertilizer to the bed between the plants to ensure constant feed. During dry spells it is always helpful to apply more 20-10-20 occasionally to ensure good blooming.

Even though Pansies require a well drained bed they may still need to be watered occasionally during dry spells. Don't let your pansy plants dry out too much! If flower production is down and you are sure you have fertilized enough they may need a drink.

Stick your forfinger in the soil to check the moisture level. Believe it or not your forefinger does just a good a job as the most expensive moisture level meter you could buy.

I mentioned this to one young lady and she replied holding up a manicured hand. "Yuk, you want me to stick my finger into that dirt?" I replied, "If you're growing something in it it's called soil. If you have it on the bottom of your shoe then it's only dirt."

It is not generally necessary to deadhead or remove faded flowers from modern hybrid pansies like Matrix and Majestic Giant II, but if you see any seed heads forming be sure to remove them to ensure continued good flowering.

When you plant modern hybrid pansy varieties like Matrix or Majestic Giant II you can virtually ensure that you will have year-round flowers since the pansies will bloom from the first of November nearly through April. Then you can choose your favorite summer flowering annual to plant in the spring when the pansies begin to falter in the heat.




Garden Mums for the Fall

We strive to have a good selection of garden chrysanthemums ready for the first week of October. These plants will be loaded with flower buds ready to bloom shortly thereafter and will usually bloom well through, at least, the first week of November.

Our Mums are grown in 8 inch mum pots, 10 inch mum pots, and 2 gallon pots.

Be sure to keep your mums watered well, especially if you place them in the full sun without planting in the ground. If there is no or little rain the mums will need a good watering every day. It is not necessary to fertilize potted mums since they will have already made all of the growth after flower bud set.

If you have an unused portion of a flower bed in the full sun you can plant your mums and let them over winter. They will normally freeze to the ground and then come back up in the spring when they will bloom again. Start fertilizing when you see new growth in the late winter. In case of a late frost after they sprout in the early spring simply cover them with a plastic or a paper container. Give it a try!




Computer Security

It is a very excellent idea for you take an active role to ensure that your PC is secure from threats when you surf the Internet or receive email. Installing a good antivirus program and keeping it updated and registered is only one of the essential security precautions you can take.

Here are some tips that are guaranteed to keep your PC free of the most serious problems short of mechanical breakdown. And some of them will make recovery from even that more bearable.

*First, keep your internet programs (browser, email, chat, etc.) updated to their latest available versions.

*Next, you can keep your operating system (Windows or MacOS) updated.

*Be sure you have your Firewall enabled and donít make a practice of clicking OK every time a program (such as a ftp or torrent program) pops a window up to ask to put another hole in it.

*If you regularly conduct financial transactions (purchasing from Internet Vendors or Online Banking) on the Internet be aware that this is perfectly safe and secure as long as you follow certain rules such as making sure the site you choose is using proper security.

*Do not make it a habit of clicking links in email messages unless you are certain the email itself is from a trusted source.

*Do not respond to spam (unsolicited) email messages, including using unsubscribe links or clicking directly on links in such email messages. Just delete them.

*If you receive an email that appears to come from your local bank or financial institution asking you to log in or for personal information DO NOT REPLY and report it to your financial institution.

*Do not open email attachments that haven't been scanned by your virus scanner. Nor open any attachments you were not expecting, no matter who they appear to be from.

*Do not rely on ďSpeed Up My PCĒ or ďRepair my PCĒ sites to do any good for you. Avoid using online registry or PC check sites. Most of these sites and programs are scams, and sell you something you don't need.

*Disable all third-party tool bars and search bars on your browser. These bars enable enhanced search features (even within your PC) but they also give the barís creators and clients the ability to track your searches on the Internet to a much greater extent than normal searches.

Besides enhancing your security you will also gain more screen area to see more of the Internet in your browser window. These things just take up space.

*Impress upon your children that there is nothing free on the Internet that is without risk. Even free and shareware programs from trusted sites may install, by default, unwanted or undesirable software or browser extensions. Watch to see what the installer programs are installing!

Once the malware is in your PC the first thing it usually does is to disable your antivirus programís ability to download updates so even if you know you have a virus the antivirus program may not be able to eliminate it during a scan. Downloading that free movie or song may cost you some of your hard-earned money to fix.

*Theft Remedy
What are you to do if your PC (laptop, ipad, iphone, android phone, etc.) is stolen? If you have installed software that tracks the device you may be able to get it back and catch the thief as well. If you havenít installed such software then you may be out of luck.

An excellent article from PC Magazine lists such software or you can go to the vendorís site directly for more information. Some of the software is free but if you want enhanced capabilities or need to cover multiple devices there is usually a fee.

*Never disconnect USB devices from your PC without using the Safely Remove Hardware feature in the notification section of toolbar or switching off (if possible) the device in question.

*Always backup your data files. A USB thumbdrive is a excellent and inexpensive solution for this. Remember to keep your backups current!

*Passwords:
The purpose of a password is so that no one else can access your private data or your money except you alone. If your password is weak and can be easily guessed then that defeats its purpose. Your favorite petís name is not a secure password. A critical password should consist of both letters and numbers and should be at least eight characters long. If you canít remember it write it down and put it someplace secure.

*Other maintenance:
If you use your PC every day and are constantly moving and deleting files you may find that over time your hard drive may seem to slow down a bit. Thatís because the files have become fragmented and the drive needs to spin much more to find the whole files to display. It is a good idea to use the free accessories that come with Windows to defragment your hard drive at least once a year. Defragmenting your hard drive is simple even though it may take a while to complete.

My favorite safe place for downloading programs is CNETís Download.Com. There you can find all kinds of free, shareware, and commercial software for the PC as well as the Mac. Mobile and Web applications are also included. Many of them have been reviewed by the CNET staff and are rated by either the staff or the users (or both). Go to: http://www.download.com

This article has been reduced in length because of space considerations. If you wish to view the complete article please click here.

What We're Growing

Fall Garden Mums
(In 8 inch and 10 inch pots)
Available starting in late September.
Colors - Yellow, Purple & White.

Fall bedding plants
(In Jumbo 6 packs) Available in late October
   Pansy - Majestic Giant, Matrix
   Petunia - Dreams
   Snapdragon - Snapshot

Fall vegetable plants
(In Jumbo 6 packs) Available in early October.
   Broccoli Ė Packman
   Brussels Sprouts - Oliver
   Cauliflower - Incline
   Cabbage - Rio Verde, Early Jersey, Red Dynasty
   Celery - Tall Utah
   Collards - Georgia
   Kale - Vates
   Lettuce - Ithaca (head), Paris Island (Romaine), Buttercrunch & Red Sails (leaf)
   Mustard - Southern Giant Curled
   Spinach - Bloomsdale




Helpful Websites

Try these helpful and very useful websites. We will post a couple now and add to the list in the next editions of the newsletter.

LSU Agriculture Center - http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/

In Louisiana -Find an LSU Ag Extension County Agent Near You

American Rose Society - Need some authoritative information on roses or want to contact fellow rosarians?

Azalea Society of America - Find out more about this highly divergent class of popular flowering shrubs.




Additional Information

Didn't like it? If you got this newsletter by mistake and don't want it or if you asked for it and are disappointed - we hope not - you may simply reply to this newsletter email with one word - UNSUBSCRIBE. That's it. We will take you off of our list immediately.

Liked it? However, if you liked it and wish to compliment, criticize or suggest, please feel free to do so. It's just as easy as unsubscribing. Just reply to this email with your helpful comments.

Have a question? If so and you would rather type it out and send it as an email to us feel free to do so. We will either respond with an email or a phone call to you with the answer, your choice.

Have a request? Want us to get a particular plant variety for you for the fall, winter, or spring? If you let us know ahead of time and it's available we'll be certain to get just what you want.

Thank You,
Chris and Gary Marmillion








redrose Green Thumb Nursery
12188 Highway 22
Ponchatoula, LA 70454
225-294-5089
greenthumbnsy.com
tomato



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