Spring & Summer Lawn And Garden Tips

Now that spring is here, it is a good time to take a look at the problem spots in your lawn and garden:

  • Do you notice areas of standing water?
  • Do you have problems with slow or poor drainage in your yard?
  • Are there areas in your lawn & garden where you see slow or weak plant growth?

Any one of these conditions could be the result of clay soil in your lawn & garden.

When it comes to your lawn and garden, the presence of clay soil can create a number of problems:

  1. Clay soil drains slowly. Thus, as the winter snow melts and the spring rains start, the clay soil tends to remain saturated long after average or sandy soils have drained. Wet or saturated soils do not make for a good growing environment long term.
  2. Clay soil is much slower to warm up in the spring. Because of its’ density, the clay soil is resistant to the warming effects of the spring sunshine. Colder soil temperatures slow plant growth. Until the soil warms up sufficiently, springtime growth will be slow and difficult.
  3. Clay soil compacts (pushes together or bonds to itself), making it hard for the roots to penetrate. When the root systems can’t penetrate, they become “stunted” or stop growing. This is not a healthy growing environment.
  4. Clay soil is alkaline (has a high pH), which is hard on plants.
  5. To top it off, clay soil is very heavy and difficult to work with. And messy!

Liquid_Gypsum_RTS_AND_Liquid_Gypsum_GALSoilLogic’s Liquid “Gypsum” product (also sold in some areas as “Liquid Thrive”) can help with all of your clay soil problems. While it is not a miracle, it works very quickly. A program of regularly scheduled applications should help improve poor soil conditions within weeks. It is very easy to apply (much easier to use than bags of traditional dry gypsum), and is relatively inexpensive for the job that it does.

Liquid “Gypsum” may be just your answer for reconditioning your soil, because it can be applied on the surface soil in your flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, or on your lawn. This is easily done with the quart (32. Oz.) ready to spray (“RTS”) bottle, which covers up to 1,000 sq. ft. SoilLogic offers other sizes of  Liquid “Gypsum” for larger yards and repeated applications.

What does  Liquid “Gypsum” do? Its’ concentrated formula has the ability to penetrate the millions of fine clay particles in heavy or hardpan soils, and help to loosen the structure of the soil. This creates air and moisture space that gradually loosens and breaks open the soil structure, which is what your plants, trees, shrubs and lawn need for better growth.

Please note that  Liquid “Gypsum” does not contain any major plant nutrients, so it is still necessary to apply it in conjunction with a regular fertilizing program. However,  Liquid “Gypsum” does contain some ingredients that are very good for healthy plant growth.

To recap,  SoilLogic’s Liquid “Gypsum” (also sold in some areas as “Liquid Thrive”) can help solve your common clay soil problems:

  1. Improve drainage
  2. Open up compacted soil
  3. Create a better growing environment for your lawn and garden!

Totally Tomatoes

Photo by Darko Skender

Photo by Darko Skender

It has happened again!  The seed catalogs came to my house and I couldn’t resist looking at everything that was new and wondering if some of my favorites were still around.  Well, maybe I looked a little too hard and a little too long.  I started thinking of all the things I could do with the tomatoes, and other vegetables, I wanted to grow.

I couldn’t help myself; I might have gone a bit overboard. However, I will share with you five (how can I pick just five?) of my most favorite tomatoes:

  • Fourth of July– This is a Burpee exclusive.  It is true to its name. Some growers swear that they pick their first tomato on the 4th of July.  I won’t say I do that every time I’ve grown this tomato, but it is the earliest tomato that I pick and it has more flavor than any other early tomato.
  • Oregon Spring– This is a variety introduced by Oregon State University and is great for cooler summer temperatures. Even though we have hot days, our nights can be cooler and most tomatoes and other vegetables like warm nights.  Great flavor and taste.
  • DX-52 (Hamson DX-52-12) This is an introduction from Utah State University and should be a staple for the northern climate and area. I grew this tomato when I was in Idaho and had great success.  Good for canning.  This year I had to get my seed from a garden center in Utah. The name doesn’t offer much insight, but the real treasure is the fruit itself.
  • Delicious-This is an older beefsteak variety.  It truly offers a one slice tomato sandwich option. However, I never could stop at just one sandwich though.  Wonderful flavor, great size and about a week to ten days earlier than other beefsteak varieties.  Funny thing about this variety, was the deer decided they like this variety too, it was the only one they would eat off of the vine.
  • Sweet Million-This too is an older cherry variety, but still my favorite.  Even though it is prone to cracking, if not picked quickly, I find that it has better flavor than the Sweet 100 variety.  However, if you see me trying to give cherry tomatoes away on the street corner, I am planning on growing 4 different varieties of cherry tomatoes.
  • (bonus) Big Mamma-This variety is again a Burpee exclusive.  It is a Roma variety, great for salsas, very meaty, and not a lot of juice compared to others. And the name is very fitting, twice the size of your regular Roma varieties.
  • Others not to be forgotten: Celebrity, Fantastic.

Most gardeners would probably stop at fewer tomatoes than this in their gardens… Not me.  In fact this is just the beginning. I will be growing about 8 more varieties to see how they perform in our climate. That is just what I will be starting from seed.  Who knows what other varieties might find their way into my garden from some garden center I happen to stop by.

I don’t know what it is about tomatoes, but I have always enjoyed a good tomato.  As a child, it seemed that we were planting, growing, and covering a hundred tomatoes each year.  Funny thing is I have vivid nightmares of growing up and having to help my father cover (and then uncover) the tomato crop that was in the family garden, protecting them from the pending frosts of fall.  He was determined to keep tomatoes on the vine as late into September and even into October as he could.  Now it seems that I possess the same tomato gene as he does.  I even found one of his old favorites and planted it last year.

I realize that tomatoes aren’t for everyone, and not everyone might be as crazy as I in growing so many different varieties. Oh but the rewards of a wonderful tomato sandwich, cucumber and tomato salads, homemade salsas, and of course a slice of tomato on a hamburger right off the grill.

With the news reports indicating that the current tomato crop has been damaged, due to the weird and abnormal weather and temperatures, summer can’t come quick enough bringing the wonderful flavors of the harvest.

Photo by Arcelia Vanasse

Photo by Arcelia Vanasse

I have started my seeds (tomatoes and peppers) growing, pretty soon I will actually start working the soil out in my garden preparing it for an early crop of peas.  Yes, we have had a cold hard winter, not a lot of snow in my area unlike others across the country, but the cold that chilled us to the bone.  As the days are getting longer and warmer, it brings comfort to know that Spring is around the corner.

What are some of the Tomato varieties you like to grow?  Please feel free to leave what you like so others can share.

How to Choose Seeds

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When choosing seeds for the garden, it is important to remember that what you purchase is what you will get.  If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should look elsewhere for your seeds.  So how do you know if what you are purchasing is truly what you want?  That is a great question and here are some tips to help you know how to choose the best seeds.

  • Remember to invest in quality, rather than quantity.  Seeds of a higher quality will give you the best results.  Often cheap seeds are available in greater quantities.  But remember that they are just that–cheap seeds.  Higher quality seeds may cost more initially, but will give you more for your investment.
  • Only purchase seeds that have been packaged for the current growing season.  If you are looking at seeds that were packaged for a previous growing season, have they been tested within the past 6 months?  If this information is not readily available on the seed packet, then do not buy it.  Look for another brand of seed that does list this information instead.
  • Choose seeds that match your needs.  Most seed packages include information on starting dates, germination times and growing conditions.  Know what your needs are.  If you live in place that has a colder climate, understand that you will not be able to effectively grow a plant that requires tropical conditions.
  • Check for the germination percentage.  The higher the percentage number, the more likely that the seeds will sprout and grow.  Choose seeds that provide this information to you.  Keep in mind that some seeds are more difficult to start than others.  But a higher germination percentage will equal greater success.

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing your seeds, what are you planning to grow in your garden this year?  We would love to hear what you are interested in growing.