Friday, March 23, 2018

I Have to Start My Garden Seedlings ASAP

    I am feeling a sense of urgency to start my Spring seedlings.  I bought my seedling tray at Walmart about two weeks ago, and my supposed soil, at Big Lots.  I was happy, because I liked the Ferry Morse Pro-Hex Professional Seed Starting Tray ($5.00 USD), with its six-sided "cells," which Ferry Morse claims encourage better and stronger root systems than the standard round cells.  It made sense to me. Including the Greenhouse Dome, what could go wrong?

    And, I was especially pleased with myself because I had bought two large bags of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Garden Soil (as opposed to non-organic generic garden soil), for $8.50 USD each.

    However, upon reading the fine print, I realized that I didn't have the most optimal soil for starting my seeds, because the circle in the middle of the back of the package says, "NOT FOR CONTAINERS."  Apparently, this soil is really for in-ground planting, and needs to be mixed with soil from my yard. I really don't want to use the soil from my yard for my edibles, because it might contain some of the fertilizer and crab grass deterrent that I recently applied onto my lawn.  It will work okay, I think, for my flowers, but I realized that I really want to use containers for my vegetables and herbs. So, I decided to go ahead and buy some Miracle-Grow Seed Starting Potting Mix, Specially Formulated For Fast Root Development, and then plan on picking out a good "organic container mix," when its time to transplant, rather than try to make due with the "garden soil."

   I really want this to be successful, and have tried just "roughing it" before with generic soil and seed starting trays, unsuccessfully.  I found the special seed starting mix on the shelf at Home Depot, for $4.76 USD. It's only 8 quarts, though, as opposed to the Organic Choice Garden Soil, at 2 cubic feet. 

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Cleaning

   I finally got the spring fertilizer down (4000 sq. ft. coverage was just enough), sans the moisture I was hoping for.  Although, I do believe there has been some over-night humidity going on, because the grass is starting to green up on its own.  Also, most of my perennials and biennials are shooting up beneath the leaves that I left in the flower beds last Fall. I managed to fill my entire dumpster up with old grass clippings and leaves, so now I expect the lawn to green up by Easter (April 1st) or so. There should also be some moisture between now and then. I probably won't turn on the outside-water until night-time temperatures are above freezing.

Here are some of my Spring "shoots:"

   This is a succulent, although I don't know the name.  I like to leave the dried flowers over the winter because I think they look nice, and I think they protect the new shoots during the spring snowstorms.  I think the danger has passed, though, because temperatures have been so warm (50's - 70's daytime) this spring, so I went ahead and pruned the dead shoots yesterday.  

My Pansies have been trying to make an appearance for a couple of weeks now.  Here's the first one that made it through single-digit night-time temperatures, peeking through. 

Here are  my trimmed Pansies.  They multipied over the weekend - I'll add more later as they come in, to either Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and Kmart.  They all carry those great Bonnie Plants. I found the Dracena and a couple of the Pansies at a local nursery called Campbell's. I removed the Purple Dracena from the middle of the pot. Although beautiful, it didn't fare well with the grasshoppers last summer, so I think I'll try a different "center " plant this year.  I think I'll try to find a single Daisy plant - grasshoppers don't bother Daisies, either.  Surprisingly, the grasshoppers didn't touch any of the Pansies, and they even did well in the hot south-facing location against the stuccoed house, as long as I watered well every day, June through September. (And by "well," I mean a full gallon of water in each flower pot, sometimes twice a day on 100-degree-plus days.)  

Here it is last Spring

Here are the year before last, and the year before that, but I digress :)

 Here's a Vinca, and the first ladybug I've seen this spring.  
It's pretty warm around the flower pot, I think.

First Spring Crocus

Spring Daffodil shoot.  (I'll clean it up 
after I'm sure it won't snow again.)
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I picked up my Scott's Turf Builder/Crabgrass-Halter at Walmart, at the Online-Orders  Service Desk. I had a really positive experience when I picked up the fertilizer, because I notified the service desk, on my Walmart phone app, from the parking lot at the store, and by the time I reached the service counter, the Walmart associate greeted me with, "Hi!  Are you here for your fertilizer?" Now that's fast service!
   Come to find out, though, that the bag contents only covers 4000 sq. ft., instead of 5000 sq. ft, which I had thought was the coverage last year. That's okay - I'll make it work.

   After reading the back of the package, though, it apparently only prevents grassy weeds, such as: 
  • Barnyard grass
  • Crabgrass (large)
  • Crabgrass (smooth)
  • Fall panicum
  • Foxtail, and 
  • Poa annua.
   The only broadleaf weeds it prevents are:
  • Chickweed
  • Oxalis(yellow woodsorrel)
  • Spurge (prostrate), with a repeat treatment for the spurge after 6 - 8 weeks.
   That's fine - I plan to fertilize with Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed, on around April 21st to May 1st.  By then, the spurge and dandelions will be up, and a few inches long, so the Weed and Feed will be the appropriate treatment, because the herbicide powder needs to stick to the wet leaves for at least 24 hours before watering to work.  The tricky part about that application is timing it between spring showers. If it rains too soon, your lawn will green up, but you'll probably still have dandelions and spurge.  I learned that the hard way, two summers ago, when that exact thing happened.  I was extra careful last Spring and Summer, and it was worth it. My lawn was really green and thick, and there were hardly any broadleaf weeds.
I highly recommend Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed
   Back to the crabgrass treatment, though - I had originally planned to apply it as soon as I brought it home, after I finished raking the lawn . However, it still hasn't rained or snowed, which is really nice to have happen about a day before, and then a day after, application.  I guess I'm going to have to hand-water after all, because the crabgrass is already germinating, and so are many of my perennial flowers; and it has been very dry, unless we have been getting a few drops of participation during the nights.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I braved the wind yesterday to get started on my lawn-raking.  I like to begin with the outside (of the fence) east side of the yard, underneath my son's cub scout Scotch Pine sappling, which, by the way, is no longer a sappling, as shown in this picture.  This is what a 30-year old Scotch Pine looks like (see below). I might prune the branches (or ask my son to prune the branches) this Spring, but I haven't yet because I like the way they drape aver the fence a little bit.  It makes the yard seem like more of a mountain setting, than a semi-arid desert scene, which our local climate is said to be.

30-ft Scotch Pine - (edited for privacy).
This was actually the forth raking I have done to this area since last fall.  The first three rakings garnered about a 39-gallon bag of pine needles and pine cones each time.  I haven't really raked, though, since just before Christmas of 2017, when I tidied up before stringing a few Christmas lights on the corner of the yard. Just this section of the yard, which measures about 8 feet by 30 feet, yielded another 39-gallon bag full of dead grass, pine needles and pine cones, yesterday.   

Dead, fallen pine needles & loose grass thatch
   It would really be a waste to try to apply the ferilizer/crab-grass deterrent on top of all of that thatch.  I like to leave a little bit of thatch so I don't have to water so often during the hot summer months of July and August, but not that much!  The night time temperatures here are still in the teens, so it still isn't quite time to turn on the sprinklers to bring the lawn out of dormancy. I'm hoping that we get a good spring snowstorm, and then I want to apply it just before the storm. The grass just loves that, and greens up about a week later, with very few weeds.  

   I spotted a few old dormant crabgrass spots today, in the front yard, where I usually have the most trouble with crabgrass. I'll take my weed digger tool with me tomorrow, when I go out to rake another section of the yard, and dig them up.  It's good to pull as many crabgrass patches as possible.  This picture shows what a dormant crabgrass patch looks like.
Dormant crabgrass patch.

Crabgrass seedling (You can see why they are so insidious. 
 I believe there are little seeds in each "notch," and they "roll" 
everywhere, or "fly" if there's a good wind.)

   I managed to dig up the crabgrass patches with my Fisker digger/weeder.  It really works well, because it's curved, so that I can brace it against the ground when I try to dig-pull the crabgrass up out of the ground. 

   It looks like the crabgrass roots were never even dormant, so I know I should have applied the crabgrass deterrent on the first of February.  I actually tried to buy fertilizer/crabgrass deterrent at the Walmart Garden Center then, but it wasn't on the store shelves yet (as mentioned in an earlier posting).


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Spring Musings about Crabgrass Prevention

   March 3rd, 2018 - I just ordered a bag of Scotts Turf Builder, which "Halts Crabgrass," (Preventer) with Lawn Food, 5,000 sq. ft., online from  I tried to buy it at the store last evening, but this particular item wasn't on the shelf inside the Garden Center, and it was too late, in my opinion, to check outside, since there was no clerk anywhere to be seen, and my ride needed to get home.  I'm expecting an email notification and/or app when the bag has been "picked." and is ready to be picked up from the store.

   I had actually checked this same department approximately two weeks prior, because we were getting so much wonderful snowfall (in Southeastern Colorado), and I knew Spring Thaw was just around the corner.  I applied this identical product to my lawn in late February last year, and really had good results with it. The crabgrass in my neighborhood is fairly prolific, and if it isn't addressed by some sort of treatment, it can take over a lawn with no mercy.  I know some people don't really like herbicides, but I am very careful to flag my lawn and make sure no one walks on it until at least a week later, after a snow or rain, or watering with my sprinkling system if absolutely necessary, even though I don't like to turn them on while nighttime temperatures are in the teens (which they are).  That's okay, though, because I just read a blurb about preparing the lawn for Spring, and realized I still need to dethatch it with my trusty rake.  I don't usually rent a power rake because they tend to tear up my ground, and I enjoy the exercise. The description on the bag reads:

  • Protects against new crabgrass all season
  • Feeds to encourage fast lawn green-up in the spring
  • Winter conditions after application won't affect product performance.
  • $17.46
Turf Builder Scotts Tb Halts 4m

   I found another Scotts crabgrass and grassy weed herbicide that doesn't contain any fertilizer, but I think I get a better deal by combining them, because that item isn't actually available from Walmart, so I would have to pay for shipping, and I would also have to buy fertilizer. Then I would also have to find time to apply the product.  I like to garden, but I'm not that fond of spreading fertilizer/herbicide, and my time is very valuable to me.

Scotts Halts Crabgrass & Grassy Weed Preventer (Mini Pallet),   
This product is only $17.12, but with shipping and the fact that it doesn't contain fertilizer, it will have to be a "no."