Monday, October 23, 2006

Colors of the Arboretum

Berheim Arboretum is a wonderful place. I would highly, highly encourage a visit. This time of year is especially rewarding with the colors and fruits of fall.

I took 71 pictures and should have taken 171.

A plain old hickory lights up an otherwise dark area.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma 'Alba') berries can be white!

And a pine (Pinus densiflora 'Dragon Eye') may supposed to have yellow needles -- go figure.

Go to Bernheim!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Are We Finally Done With Summer?

The freeze came. At home, on the morning of October 12, the temperature was 28 degrees. Most of the poke, pigweed, and ragweed got burned. But hyacinth bean iwll not recover. Nor will the sweetpotato vines here at the office. They are crispy. But the petunias lived.

The massive peppers near our entrance were saved by several night's lodging inside the office. They will look nice for a little longer -- or whenever I forget to drag them inside.

Waking up on Oct 12, it looked like a January morning. Everything was white with a thick frost. I couldn't imagine anything coming through but plants are amazing in their wills to live.

What do you think? Will we have another week or two with no frosts? I'm ambivalent. I'm already getting a little excited about looking through the new seed and plant catalogs for 2007.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Conspiracy Theory?

I was teaching the soils part of the Master Gardener Program here in Pulaski County yesterday. The class is a good one and asked a lot of good questions. We inevitably get sidetracked on to topics only related on the fringe.

The discussion was about fertilizers. And it turned to crabgrass control. UK recommends applying crabgrass control in late winter/early spring. Around here, that's March 15 or so. However, no fertilizer is recommended in the spring -- all fertilizers for turf should be applied in the fall and winter for our cool-season grasses.

Here's the buyer's beware: Just you try to find a crabgrass control product that has no fertilizer! It's dang near impossible! And it shouldn't be.

I'm not a conspiracy-minded person, but I truly believe that these chemical companies are in cahoots with lawn mower manufacturers. By putting fertilizer on legitimate spring crabgrass control, you are guaranteed to have to mow your lawn 2-3 times a week. Think about it. I don't think I'm that far off.

Here's another point. Several years ago, we were able to buy the crabgrass control only (with no fertilizer attached) from a dealer in Lexington KY. However, in 2005 this dealer did not carry the chemical by itself. The product they carried had 7% nitrogen! I asked them why? why? why?

The answer was that their lawn care guys (their customers) were demanding a crabgrass product WITH FERTILIZER! You make your own mind up. I have.

The picture above is 'Fireworks' goldenrod. A welcome splash of color this time of year.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Neglect is A Good Thing?

When it comes to composting, I used to be religious about turning the pile. That was BK -- Before Kids. Anyhow, these days, I rarely get to turn the pile. But over the weekend, my old 2X6 boards that I had been using to contain the pile, were retired and replaced with new ones.

And having not turned the pile in many, many months, the bottom of the pile was dark and rich. I actually got to harvest some humus -- considering my lack of aeration, I thought that was a great end result. The smell was earthy, the way it's supposed to be. You can't always get away without turning the compost pile, but I had dumped many different materials in the pile, some that were great for aeration (meaning -- sticks), so I guess I'm being rewarded for being neglectful.

I can live with that.