|Green Thumb Nursery Newsletter||September 30, 2012 / October 2012|
In This Issue:
* Azaleas, 1 gallon - $3.49 each or 10 or more for $2.99 each (Just a few left!)
Ah, what an intriguing subject! Just the thing to spend your beautiful fall days reading about, Right?
The purpose of mulch is:
The ideal mulch material is usually organic - which means it is a byproduct of nature - usually from plants. It can be bark, wood chips, leaves, or pine straw. Ideal mulch material will be subject to break down or deterioration and will need to be replaced or replenished as it slowly decomposes and slowly turns into the soil it is covering.
The Horticulturists at LSU say this about mulch and its benefits. "Organic mulch materials, such as pine straw, pine bark, compost and chopped leaves, improve soil fertility as they decompose. In addition, mulch buffers soil temperature, keeping soils several degrees warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It can help maintain soil moisture by reducing evaporation and minimize water needs for established plants." These and most other horticultural experts recommend applying mulch primarily in the spring and adding to it as it decomposes - especially in the fall.
Mulch can also be non-organic. If there is an area in which you want nothing to grow, especially weeds, you can cover it with a sheet of plastic and cover that with other non-organic material such as gravel, crushed rocks or stones. Ideally, this area should be both rather small and slightly raised above the surrounding ground so that unwanted soil and weed seeds are not quickly washed into it.
What to avoid.
Always remember that the primary purpose of mulch is to enhance the growth of the plants and to enrich the soil they are planted in. But when properly applied, mulch will reduce weed growth as well as making the planting area look good.
Personally I like pine straw because I feel that this material performs the function of a mulch at least as well or possibly better than many other materials. However it's your garden and your plants. Choose the mulch material that suits your preferences best and apply it as recommended.
PANSIES AND MUMS
Again this year we will have a good selection of fall and winter flowering plants.
As I am writing this in the middle of September I see that our crop is putting on lots of flower buds and the plants look good. If you come by to get them just after the middle of the month the flowers should still look very fresh by the end of the month.
Nearly all of our mums have been planted in ten inch pots so they should be easy to keep watered during the dry weather we always have around the end of October. If you keep them watered well the flowers will last much longer looking fresher!
Just remember that the stems on mums are a bit brittle so handle them gently and place them when you're not likely to brush by them breaking off a stem. You can lose a lot of flowers that way.
It is the middle of September and we have already had one nice, albeit short, cool spell that has been a welcome change from the hot muggy days of summer. We will probably have at least one more cold front before it's time to plant pansies. So don't get in too big a hurry to get your plants in the ground. All of the experts agree that the time to plant pansies in south Lousiana is after the middle of October, not before. Just as long as you get them in before the middle of November your plants should do quite well.
At this writing we have already planted our pansy crop and it is growing nicely. The plants should be nice and well-rooted and ready to go in the ground any time after the middle of October. It appears that the mixed colors will be slightly later than the solid colors since the plugs (starter plants) were smaller when we recieved them. So if you don't get yours early we should have plenty left for the beginning of November.
If you haven't already, start getting your ground ready now to plant pansies! Choose a spot that receives full sun all throughout the winter and is higher than the surrounding ground so it will drain well during the numerous winter rains. After planting keep your pansies well fertilized and moist but not soggy and you will have flowers all winter and into the spring. If you do it right you will probably hate to pull them up in the spring to replace them with summer plants.
Using Credit Cards on the Internet
There is nothing more convenient than entering your credit card info or paypal to buy products or services on the internet. First of all, you will probably save money. For the time being anyway, there is no sales tax if the vendor has no physical presence in your state and many vendors throw in free shipping as well as 'internet only' pricing to induce you to spend your hard-earned cash from the privacy of your home. (This may change in the near future as more and more cash-strapped state and local governments search for ways to tax your internet purchases)
Secondly, you can take advantage of the bewildering proliferation of products of all kinds that are currently being offered on the internet. Combined with the internet-only stores such as Amazon and Buy.com - to name two of the largest ones - nearly every vendor and business that has a traditional brick and mortar store front has a selling presence on the internet - Walmart, in particular, comes to mind.
Experts assure us that making purchases on the internet is normally safer and more secure than if you handed your credit card to the check-out person at a local store. In my opinion, those assurances are justified as long as you shop smart. If you check to be sure that the page where you enter your financial and personal information is secure you should have no problem. And if you use a service like Paypal for small purchases where possible your security should be further enhanced.
What should you look for to avoid scams?
First of all be sure that your vendor is using secure payment practices. The URL or the internet address of the payment page should read HTTPS instead of HTTP. If it does not, do not enter any personal or financial information. It is too easy for you to be mis-directed to a non-secure scam site. Especially if you used a search to find the site in the first place. (There are many copy-cat sites out there, beware!)
Next, check to see if the vendor retains your credit card information. In many cases this is desireable if the vendor is well-known and reputable but not so desireable if you've never heard of them before.
Beware of 'free trial' introductory offers that require a credit card! In many cases it is very difficult to cancel before your card is charged and even harder to get a refund if you don't want the product or service.
Remember, all of the ads, popups and offers on the internet have only one purpose in mind - to get you to enter your credit card information so they can charge your card. It's wise to remember that wise old saying: if it too good to be true, it probably is not true.
FALL VEGETABLE PLANTS
Again this year we will have a good selection of vegetable plants for fall gardens. We will start early, in late July, with fall tomatoes then a bit later in late August we should have the first plants of the fall season. Califlower, Cabbage, Lettuce, and Broccoli will be high on our list but we will also have others such as Spinach and Collards. By the time September rolls around we should have a good selection of all of these popular plants ready for sale. Below is a listing of the varieties we will have to offer.*BROCCOLI - Packman
*BRUSSELS SPROUTS - Oliver
*CABBAGE - Rio Verde, Early Jersey, Red Dynasty
*CELERY - Tall Utah
*COLLARDS - Georgia
*KALE - Vates
*LETTUCE - Ithaca (head), Buttercrunch (leaf), Paris Island (Romaine), Red Sails (leaf)
*MUSTARD - Southern Giant Curled
*SPINACH - Bloomsdale
Fall Bedding Plants
Oh, don't forget Pansy plants for bloom all through the late fall and winter (and even into early spring). Pansies shouldn't be planted too early. Mid October is early enough for them since they need some warmth to grow but cooler weather to get established properly. Some experts recommend waiting until after the first of November to plant Pansies but we know many of you want to get them in before that. We'll have both Majestic Giant and Matrix varieties which make those large flowers everyone likes. We'll also have a few Violas for those who like the smaller blooms.
VITEX - CHASTE TREEVitex agnus castus, also known as Lilac Chaste Tree, is an excellent summer blooming hardy shrub or small tree for our south Louisiana yards. It is easy to grow and has few or no pest problems. It is heat and drought tolerant and will bloom more than once if you remove the spent blooms then fertilize and water well after the first bloom. Give it a try!
LSU Agriculture Center - http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/
New! Horticulture Hints - From LSU Ag Center. This popular publication was once distributed in printed form from the County Agents but now is available only as a PDF directly from the LSU Ag Center Site.
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.
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