Monday, April 30, 2012

Results of Community Poll Ending 30 April.

Our community poll at, ending 30 April, 2012, asked the question: Are you concerned about the future of the U.S. and its economy to the point that you plan to ensure or supplement your food supply by planting or enlarging your own fruit and/or vegetable garden?

18% of respondents answered, I'm not that concerned.
9% of respondents answered, I'm concerned, but don't have a place to garden.
No one answered, I'm concerned, but don't have a place to garden, so I've become involved in a community garden.
50% of respondents answered, I'm concerned, so I plan to enlarge my home garden.
9% of respondents answered, I'm concerned, but my garden is large enough for now.
14% answered, Actually, I haven't thought about that until now.

(You'll see different results and far fewer respondents to the same poll we conducted at, results posted below.)

Beside being personally satisfying to grow, fruit and vegetable gardens can supplement our diets with healthy foods. They may help our household economies, too.

I'm surprised by the number who are planning to enlarge their home gardens. I wasn't conducting community polls during the Carter Administration, so I don't know if so many respondents would have planned to enlarge their gardens then. I do remember, though, seeing some front lawns (even in large cities) converted to vegetable gardens, and squash vines draping over boxwoods.

I am surprised that no respondents said they've become involved in community gardens. Regardless of the economy, community gardens are wonderful places to grow your own while socializing, learning and sharing with friends. The American Community Garden Association is an excellent resource for those who are interested.

My blog, Backyard Fruit Guide, also provides useful information for home gardeners.

Whatever your opinion about the economic prospects, do get outdoors and goGardenNow!

About planting Euonymus fortunei - Wintercreeper

I want to plant Euonymus fortunei Purple Wintercreeper, and I do not want it to grow over about 6 inches high (for visual reasons).  Is it correct that in order to restrict the height of the plant, I should cut the height over the first few years to cause more horizontal branching? Also, when would be a good time to plant the roots?   Are there any particular recommendations on the best way to plant them?

Yes, cutting the height will cause more horizontal branching. Not only will it tend to reduce the height, but will also improve the density of the ground cover.

Euonymus is very tough, so we sell the bare root plants all year long. The plants are bundled, wrapped in moist packing material, and shipped in water-resistant boxes. They can be planted successfully during summer, providing they receive adequate irrigation after planting.

For more about Euonymus, check out my other articles on the plant in this blog. Look for Euonymus in the label index in the right side bar.

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How To Plant Hay-Scented Ferns

Friday, April 6, 2012

A question about organic fertilizer for a planting of Ophiopogon.

I received your call (John) last week about the dwarf ophiopogon that I ordered.  I planted them the next morning.  They arrived in good shape.  Do you have suggestions on encouraging root growth and fertilization?  (organic)  Thanks!

Of course, organic compost is fine, but it can't be worked into the soil at this point. A light application over the top is okay, so long as it doesn't cover the blades and crown. A better method would be to spray fish emulsion over the planting. Fish emulsion is just that...kind of like the stuff made with the Bass O Matic by Dan Akyroyd on Saturday Night Live (years ago). In addition to fertilizing the soil, it is a good foliar spray. It does smell somewhat.

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FAQ: Would dwarf mondo be a good choice for my landscape?

I have a large area, approx. 1.000 sq. ft. under large oak trees.  Grass of any kind does not do well. Mondo grass has been recommended. Dwarf Mondo seems to be a good choice. I live in northern FL. If if chose Mondo grass how much would be needed to cover the area? How far apart would sprigs be planted? How long to expect the plant to cover bare areas? Any other info would be  appreciated.

If you're looking for something turf-like, mondo (Ophiopogon japonicus) would be a good choice, but dwarf spreads fairly slowly. The actual length of time required before coverage depends on several variables: irrigation, fertilization, soil conditions. Leaf blades are 2 inches to 3 inches. If you plant bare root sprigs, they should be planted fairly close together. 4 inches or so would be ideal. For 1000 sq. ft., you'd need 9000 sprigs. (I do offer quantity discounts.) If you planted 6 inches apart, you'd need 4000 sprigs.

The longer blade mondo spreads more quickly. In addition, the longer blades (6 inches to 8 inches) give the appearance of quicker coverage.

Liriope spicata also grows in full shade. It spreads much more rapidly. Leaf blades are about 12 inches long. They can be mown occasionally. Liriope spicata can be planted farther apart. If planted 8 inches apart, you'd need 2250 sprigs. If planted 10 inches apart, you'd need 1450 sprigs. At 12 inches apart you'd need 1000 sprigs.

Liriope muscari has broader leaves than L.spicata, so doesn't appear so turf-like. 'Royal Purple' is a good one for coverage. Spreads nicely.

Other shade-tolerant ground covers that also tolerate dry soil (which I expect you have under oaks), that do NOT have turf-like appearance, include Ajuga reptans, Chrysogonum virginianum, Euonymus fortunei, Glechoma hederacea, Lamium maculatum, Hedera helix, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Pachysandra terminalis, Vinca major and V. minor. Most can be planted farther apart.

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