Preparing the soil is the most important step in flower or vegetable gardening. Test your soil this spring and use the test results and recommendations as a guide.
The soil in gardens changes, although it may look the same year after year. Growing and harvesting crops, leaching and erosion affect the availability of soil nutrients. A soil test is a valuable tool that guides gardeners.
A soil test measures nutrient amounts and pH, or level of acidity. Soil pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acid, 14 the most alkaline and 7 neutral.
Here is a list of gardening items that you can think about doing, even in winter.
Choose seeds, bulbs and woody plants from catalogs and order early. Some varieties sell out quickly. Be sure to look for disease and pest resistance when purchasing vegetable and flower seeds.
Check trees and shrubs for animal damage. Pull any mulch away from trunks where bark can be gnawed or stripped off.
Water recently-planted trees and shrubs if there is little or no rain or snow and if the ground is not frozen.
Is there a mouse in your house?
Eliminate mice with IPM.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses information about the pest to choose methods of control that are safest and most effective.
IPM methods include pest prevention, exclusion and nonchemical tools first. If chemical pesticides are needed, products are chosen that pose the least risk to human health.
Even though it is not quite Jan. 1, it’s not too early to make your gardening resolutions for the New Year. Gardening is supposed to be a fun and leisure activity, yet many times there are a lot of frustrated gardeners out there. While it’s great to be challenged, there are a number of things you can do to make your gardening life easier. Here are some resolutions for you to make:
When shopping for holiday gifts, given that gardening is one of the most popular hobbies nationwide, there is sure to be a gardener or two on your list.
This column isn’t for gardeners, however. It’s for those considerate and well-intentioned friends and loved ones who try their best each year to get their gardening friends the perfect gardening gift. So leave this copy of Focus lying around conspicuously, perhaps with a few items highlighted, and make things easier for those generous souls seeking the ideal present for the gardening enthusiast.
Most varieties of the so-called Christmas cactus are really examples of the Thanksgiving cactus.
While there is a type of cactus named the Christmas cactus, the Thanksgiving species has by far the most hybrids and is more prominent during the Yuletide season.
The kind you see most often at Christmas has three to four pairs of saw-toothed projections resembling crab claws on the leaves, and that’s the Thanksgiving or crab cactus. The leaves of the true Christmas cactus, in contrast, are rounded with no saw-toothed edges.
The days are growing shorter and the beautiful autumn leaves are beginning to pile up on your lawn. What can you do with all those fallen leaves?
Think of them as a valuable horticultural resource that can help condition your lawn and garden soil, while reducing the volume of your yard waste by 75 percent.
The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) has the potential to destroy high-value crops, including grapes, tree fruits and hardwood lumber. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania agriculture and businesses.
In an effort to keep the spotted lanternfly from spreading, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has quarantined municipalities in the Lehigh Valley and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Right now pollinators need our help. Most people know that the European honeybee suffers from colony collapse disorder, but fewer are aware that many native pollinators are declining, including bumblebees, one of our best pollinators.
The reason for the decline is complex. As more and more land is developed for housing and commerce, we lose plants that are vital sources of nectar and pollen. We also lose places for bees to nest. Disease and parasites have entered the picture. And lastly, we apply pesticides to our landscapes that are harmful to pollinators.
Native plants create beautiful landscapes that provide native wildlife with the diverse habitat and food they need to survive.
Plants are the foundation of local ecosystems. As such, they maintain the natural heritage of a region.
Native plants form the basis of the food chains that support bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds inhabiting our backyards. Because Pennsylvania’s native plants are adapted to grow here, they thrive with less maintenance, thereby reducing the labor and expense of watering and fertilizing.