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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Steps for planting grass seed this fall

If you’re like most people, recent hot weather has left your lawn screaming for attention. Now is the perfect time to assess your lawn trouble spots and think about seeding this fall to ensure a beautiful lawn when spring arrives.

When planting grass seed in the fall, time the seeding to allow the grass seed to fully germinate before freezing temperatures arrive in your region. It’s also important to take into account any weed controls you may have applied and allow an adequate wait period before seeding, as noted on the weed control product label.

Whether seeding a new lawn section or repairing a spot on an existing lawn, it is relatively easy to achieve success – simply follow these five steps for best results:

Step 1 – Buy the best grass seed

To get the best results, it’s vital to start with good seed. To find a top quality grass seed, look for seed which is independently evaluated by the National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP). The NTEP rating on grass seeds ensures you are purchasing grass seeds that have been specifically bred for superior green grass color, disease and insect resistance and drought tolerance. When considering the price of grass seed, remember the price is small compared to the time that will be invested in building a great lawn. GreenView Fairway Formula grass seeds are all NTEP rated.

You may also want to spend some time researching what type of grass grows best in your area. Generally, grasses fall into two categories – cool season and warm season grasses. Cool season grass does well in northern and temperate climates, while southern season grasses grow best in the southern parts of the United States. If patching an already existing lawn – try to match your new seed with the type of lawn already in place. Nothing looks stranger than a patch of tall fescue, growing in a zoysia lawn.

Step 2 – Prepare the soil

For planting a new lawn section:

  • Loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil.
  • Remove debris (sticks, stones, etc) from the area.
  • Break up soil clumps larger than a half dollar.
  • Avoid soil that is too fine. Small clumps are acceptable.
  • Level the areas where excess water might collect.

For overseeding an existing lawn:

  • Mow grass as short as possible.
  • Loosen the top ¼-inch of soil in bare spots.
  • Remove debris and dead grass.
  • Level the areas where excess water collects.
  • After overseeding, fertilize the bare spots with a starter fertilizer like GreenView Starter Fertilizer. This ensures new seedlings get off to the right start.

Step 3 – Planting grass seed

  • Spread the seed evenly by hand in small areas or using a hand-held spreader for larger areas.
  • Apply approximately 16 seeds per square inch. Too many seeds too close together causes seedlings to fight for room and nutrients. Grass may be weak or thin in these areas.

Step 4 – Cover seeds

  • Lightly drag the grass seed bed so no more than ¼-inch of soil covers the grass seed.
  • Don’t forget to protect your seed once it’s down. Using a product like GreenView Grass Seed Accelerator with Starter Fertilizer provides a seeding mulch and start fertilizer in combination. This is intended to enhance the ideal growing conditions for your seed by providing important nutrients and helping keep the seed moist longer between waterings.

Step 5 – Water often

  • Keep grass seed bed moist to enhance germination.
  • Water lightly and frequently (at least once daily). Water until new grass is two inches high.
  • Water new grass regularly to keep roots moist.

Plants Mint

There’s nothing like having fresh mint on hand, and I don’t know about you, but when I buy a bunch of mint, I tend use it a couple of times for a specific recipe, or to add to the best gin and tonic recipe anywhere.

Best Gin & Tonic Anywhere

Mix up whatever ratio of gin and tonic you prefer, with ice cubes.

Add to it, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, a couple of slices of cucumber, and a mint leaf or two. Swirl. Enjoy the taste of summer.

But after making my gin and tonic or whatever, I generally toss the remaining mint bunch into the fridge where it often dies because I forget it’s there. Pulling a squishy bunch of decaying mint out of the fridge is always sadness-inducing. And the last thing we need is more sadness in January, the month that contains the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday.

The good news is you can keep that freshness going by rooting your grocery store mint, and getting a brand new plant in the process. Mint bunches are usually pretty generous, so use whatever mint you need and save a few stalks to root. I used about 5 here. Cut the leaves off the bottom of the stems, leaving about 3 inches (5 cm) bare. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the stems. Put the mint sprigs in a small container of water and place in a bright area, but out of sunlight. I root my mint under a bright flourescent light in my kitchen. Make sure no leaves get in the water. Change the water after a few days if you need to. (Like if a stray leaf fell off and turned the water murky) Wait a week or so and you’ll see roots growing. You can keep growing the mint stems in the water for a few weeks, but it’s best at this point to plant the stems with roots into a container using a soilless mix, like ProMix to grow it on. Pre-wet the soil mix with warm water before using.

Keep the mint in a pot, well watered in a cool sunny room and you will have fresh mint for the rest of the winter. Gin and tonics anytime! Or add a couple of sprigs to a salad for a fresh summery flavour. In the spring you can put your pot outside to grow for the summer season.

Way to Use Pumpkin

Fall is the time of the year to visit your local pumpkin patch and pick out your pumpkins for Halloween jack-o’-lanterns. Southern States has everything you need to carve the scariest ones on your block.

Southern States has all the tools especially designed for pumpkin carving. Books on different carving methods and books full of patterns too! Whether your style is cute, funny or scary, we’ve got what you need.

Pumpkins can be used as centerpieces for an autumn or Halloween theme. Line your front walk with pumpkin luminaries to light the way for Trick-Or-Treaters. Have jack-o’-lantern sentries march up your front stairs, or put one in every window.

If culinary pursuits are more to your liking, here are some tried and true pumpkin recipes that are sure to be a big hit with family and friends at your fall holiday gatherings.

  • Tawny Pumpkin Pie
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Toffee Pumpkin Squares
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tawny Pumpkin Pie

  • 9″ unbaked pie shell
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups pumpkin (freshly cooked or home canned)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (Note: if using canned pumpkin that is drier
    than freshly cooked pumpkin, you may need to add more milk)

Blend eggs and pumpkin. Stir in salt, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves
and milk. Pour into pie shell which you have placed onto a cookie sheet
to avoid spills. Place the pie still on the cookie sheet in oven and bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. (Note: If using bought pie shell, this recipe will fill two regular 9″ shells.)

Pumpkin Bread

Grease well, a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan, and line the sides and bottom with waxed paper.

  • 1 2/3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mashed cooked or canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sherry
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/3 cup shortening

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cream together shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin. Add flour mixture alternately with sherry and blend well. Stir in nuts. Turn into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn out onto wire rack to cool. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to slice. Makes 1 loaf.
(Note: The smaller loaf pans, size 3-by-7 inch bake more evenly. If using this size you will get 2 loaves.)

Toffee Pumpkin Squares

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 (1 pound) can pumpkin
  • 1 (13 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

In mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and ½ cup butter and mix until crumbling. Press mixture into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

In separate bowl, mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cloves, ginger & cinnamon. Beat well and pour into crust. Bake for another 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

In another bowl, stir pecans, brown sugar and melted butter until pecans are well coated. Sprinkle over pumpkin filling. Return to oven and bake for approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Seed on one medium size pumpkin
  • Non-Stick cooking spray
  • Butter or margarine
  • Salt
  • Worcestershire sauce or Old Bay Seasoning (optional)

Once removed from the pumpkin, rinse your seeds in cold water to remove any remaining pumpkin flesh. Spread them out on paper towels to dry.

While they dry, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the seeds on the cookie sheet, preferably in a single layer. Top with bits of butter or margarine, about ¼ tsp per bit, leaving a distance of about 3 inches in between bits. Sprinkle salt to taste.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Then stir and drizzle Worcestershire or sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning to taste. Roast for another 15 minutes or until most of the seeds have browned. You may need to stir once more about 5 minutes before they are done.

Cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Place in a large bowl and enjoy!

Seeding a New Lawn

When seeding a brand new lawn, spring offers one of the best opportunities to get things started. The most important step for seeding is properly preparing the seedbed. Proper seedbed preparation is essential for good seed to soil contact. In short, the seed must be in contact with the soil for the seed to germinate and grow.

Seed as early in the spring as the weather and soil conditions allow. This will give the seed the most time to germinate, grow and become established before the beginning of hot summer weather.

To establish new grass on bare soil the following steps are suggested:

  1. Control all existing vegetation on the site using a non-selective herbicide (weed killer) and remove it once it dies off by mowing and collecting the debris. Be sure to read the herbicide package carefully and follow any recommendation for wait time before seeding.
  2. Next, rough grade the site. Make sure desired drainage is taken into account when grading, so water will not collect in low areas.
  3. Till the soil to a depth of 2 or 3 inches, breaking up the largest clumps of soil so they are golf ball size or smaller. It is not necessary to break up all the soil clumps into fine particles.

    (Optional step). If you want to incorporate compost into the soil for additional nutrients, spread a 1 to 2 inch thick layer of cured compost on the soil surface and till the compost into the top 2 or 3 inches of the soil.

  4. Rake the soil to achieve a uniform surface.
  5. Apply a Starter fertilizer that contains nutrients only such as GreenView Starter Fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer bag or a Starter fertilizer that contains nutrients plus a crabgrass preventer such as GreenView Seed Starter Fertilizer plus Crabgrass Preventer, which provides crabgrass control for newly seeded lawns without harming the germination of grass seed. If crabgrass has been a problem in the past, it would be a good idea to apply GreenView Seed Starter Fertilizer plus Crabgrass Preventer.

    Do not apply a preemergent herbicide for crabgrass control to a new seeding or on seedling turf – unless the product is specifically formulated to do so, like GreenView Seed Starter Fertilizer plus Crabgrass Preventer.

  6. Apply seed following the directions on the seed bag. It’s important to buy high quality seed such as GreenView Fairway Formula Grass Seed – Sun and Shade Mixture. You should plan for your lawn to last 30 years or more – look at it as an investment.
  7. Use a light weight leaf rake and gently drag the rake over the soil surface to move the seed in contact with the soil. Do not move any soil from one spot to another; just change the position of the soil particles on the surface.

    As an alternative to starter fertilizer, you can choose GreenView Grass Seed Accelerator, which is applied after the seed is applied, as a fertilizer/mulch combination product. It will help keep the newly seeded lawn moist and provides additional nutrients which promote germination.

    (Optional step). Another mulch alternative is to spread a thin layer of straw over the soil surface using one bale of clean straw per 1,000 sq. ft. The straw should cover only about 50% of the soil so when you look down at the soil surface, you can see straw and bare soil.

  8. Water immediately after seeding. The water will stimulate the seeds to germinate. Then, water at least once a day until the seed starts to germinate. Keep the soil moist but do not saturate the soil. After you water, the damp soil should have a dark color but without any standing water.

    Keep watering lightly at least twice a day as the seedlings start to grow. When you can see the green “fuzz” of turf plants in your lawn, this is the most important time to water. These small turf plants have a limited root system and are prone to drying out. Lightly water the green “fuzz” of turf at least twice a day.

    When the turf plants are 2 to 3 inches in height, water every other day and water using slightly more water than when the plants were very small.

  9. When the grass reaches 3 ½ inches in height, mow at a height of 3 inches. Make sure the soil is dry and firm before mowing. Mow the lawn at a height of 3 inches whenever the turf reaches 3 ½ to 4 inches in height. Mowing the grass on a regular basis results in the healthiest lawn.
  10. At about 4 to 6 weeks after the seed germinates fertilize the lawn with a high quality turf fertilizer that is predominantly nitrogen. Once turf is 4 to 6 weeks old or older, nitrogen is the most important nutrient for a healthy, attractive stand of grass. A product such as GreenView Fairway Formula Lawn Fertilizer is an excellent option.
  11. Weed control options are limited when herbicides are applied to seedling turf. If weeds are present in a new lawn, it’s important to focus on getting the lawn to fill in rapidly and become more dense (step 10) first.

    A broadleaf weed herbicide can generally be applied to new turf once the grass has reached 3 inches in height and has been mowed at that height at least three times, but it’s important to follow the package instructions carefully for exact details as manufacturer recommendations may vary depending on the formulations.

  12. About 8 weeks after seeding the turf should be well on its way to forming a dense, healthy, attractive lawn. Continue to mow, water and fertilize on a regular basis.

Ways to Grow Melons

Few things say “summer” like a juicy slice of melon. Watermelons, cantaloupes, and other melons are a great addition to the garden. With a little preparation now, you can be enjoying a sweet harvest by July!

Selecting and Starting Your Seeds

Melons fall into two different categories: watermelons (members of the genus Citullus) and muskmelons, which are often simply referred to as melons (members of the genus Cucumis). Their requirements are similar, although there are some differences in cultivating these yummy cousins. Among the muskmelons, there are many varieties to choose from including Cantaloupe, Persian, Canary, Casaba, Honeydew, Piel de Sapo, Galia, and crosses such as Crenshaw (Casaba x Persian).

All melons are warm-season crops, and so they do not tolerate cold temperatures. They can be started indoors two to three weeks before the last frost date (for more on how to start seeds indoors, read this). Transplants can be set out after the danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50F. Before transplanting, water muskmelons minimally, and watermelons deeply. Once transplanted, water all plants moderately. It’s also a good idea to give your transplants some liquid kelp at the time of transplanting.

They can also be planted directly into your garden after danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds at a depth of ½” every 3 to 5 feet. Water seedlings moderately. If a cold snap threatens your plants, it’s a good idea to give them some extra protection (read this for great options).

Site Selection and Soil Preparation

All melons need full sun in order to thrive. Plan your melon patch for the hottest, sunniest part of your garden. If you live in a cool climate, you may want to use mulch plastic to increase your soil temperature. Melons like it hot, with their ideal soil temperature around 65 to 80F.

Make sure you give each plant a full 3 to 5 feet to sprawl, as they will grow into big creeping vines. If space is limited, you can trellis the vines instead, and support their fruits in slings.

Melons like moderately rich, fertile soil with good levels of organic matter. The soil should be well drained to help prevent disease. Ideal soil will have plenty of phosphorus and potassium, and a pH of 6.0-6.8 for muskmelons, and 5.5-6.5 for watermelons.

To prevent diseases, it is suggested that you rotate your melon patch, and don’t plant melons in the same spot for five years.

Summertime Care

Summer heat will lead to rapid growth in your melon vines. As the season progresses, keep your plants moderately watered. Once fruit begins to form, decrease the irrigation to provide low but even amounts of water.

Mulching your melon vines can help prevent weed competition, and also help conserve water in the soil. You can mulch with plastic, which would additionally help with warming the soil, or you can mulch with natural materials such as cocoa hulls.

Monitor your melon patch for pests and disease throughout the growing season. If you selected seeds of melon varieties that are disease resistant, you’re now a step ahead of the problems which melon growers are often faced with.

Cucumber beetles are also common pests for melons. Not only do they eat the plants, they also spread diseases such as Bacterial Wilt. Cucumber beetles can be difficult to control; traps and sprays that target these bugs are available.

Fusarium is a fungus that affects the roots of the plants and then spreads throughout the vine. Diseased plants become stunted, and eventually wilt and die. There are no effective treatments for this fungus; it can be prevented by selecting resistant varieties, not over-watering your garden, and practicing crop rotation.

Powdery mildew looks like a white powdery coating on the upper surfaces of melon leaves. Though the powdery mildew may not kill your plants, affected vines’ growth will likely be stunted and fruit production will suffer. Bi-Carb is one product that is labeled for the control of this fungus.

For more information on melon pests and diseases, check out University of California IPM, Clemson University, and Purdue University.

Harvesting

Depending on the variety you select for your garden, the fruit will be ready to harvest in 90 days or more from the time of planting. Most melons are ready to harvest when the rind changes color to the final ripe appearance and gentle pressure separates the stem from the vine, and typically have a sweet aroma. However, some melons do not slip or become fragrant, such as Jaune Canary. These should be judged ripe by appearance and when the blossom end softens. Watermelons are ready for harvest when the tendril closest to the stem turns dry and brown and the stem turns brittle.

Most melons do not store well. However, there are some good keepers, such as Piel de Sapo. This melon is sometimes called Santa melon because it can keep until Christmas when stored in a cool, dry place.

While they are best eaten fresh, it is possible to preserve your melons when your garden is producing more than you can eat. You can cut melons in chunks and freeze them in light syrup. They can be dried in a dehydrator to make sweet candied melon, or mashed and dried into fruit leathers. The rind of watermelons makes excellent pickles. With a little more effort, you can also turn your watermelons into wine. You can find recipes for all this and more from Mother Earth News.