Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How to Make a Kissing Ball from fresh Boxwood and Holly

Ever heard of the old-timey “Kissing Ball”?  Crabapple LandscapExperts agree, holidays seem more charming when fresh botanicals are used for decorations, and there’s no excuse in our industry not to bring some evergreens indoors! Along with pine and mistletoe, it’s traditional to deck the halls with boughs of holly and boxwood, two evergreens that symbolize ‘constancy’ and ‘foresight’ in the Language of Flowers. While some “Kissing Balls” are made of needle-leaf evergreens, this winter try one made of boxwood and holly.  Easy to make and with staying power that lasts through New Years Day and beyond, a shoe box of 4-5 inch clippings will make one kissing ball and will create the finish to a beautiful holiday.

How to Make a Boxwood & Holly Kissing Ball

Half a block of floral foam, well soaked in water
Tight plastic mesh from bulb, grapefruit or onion bags, dark color preferred
Spool of thin wire approximately 18 to 20 gauge 
About a shoebox full of 4-5 inch sprigs of Green Borders Boxwood
About a dozen 4-5 inch clippings of Christmas Jewel® Holly with berries
A few sprigs of mistletoe
Floral pick
Red Ribbon

  •        Soak the floral foam (one brand name is Oasis) thoroughly, then pare off the corners to make a rounded or ball shape about 5 inches across. 
  •        Drain the floral foam and wrap the plastic mesh around it, enclosing the foam securely. Weave or stitch it together in a few places to hold it closed. 
  •       Cut a 10-12 inch length of wire to make a hanger. Thread it through the center of the foam, creating a bend or U- shape to catch on the bottom side of the foam. Make a loop at the top for hanging. 
  •       Clip enough 4-5 inch sprigs of boxwood and stick in the floral foam to cover the ball evenly and completely, making a uniform sphere of boxwood about 10 inches in diameter.  
  •       Add berried stems of berried holly as an accent, again spacing evenly around the sphere. Your lush, full Kissing Ball of greenery is now ready for decorating. 
  •       Wire a bit of mistletoe to a pick and insert at the bottom of the sphere.  
  •       Add a red bow at the top and a tuft of short streamers to the bottom of the ball and hang it up! 

Throughout the Holidays, re-soak the entire Kissing Ball once in awhile to keep the green stems fresh, submerging it in a large basin of warm water then allowing it to drain well before re-hanging.

Your friends at Crabapple LandscapExperts hope you meet someone interesting beneath the Kissing Ball.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peeling, Exfoliating, Ornamental Bark for Winter Landscape Interest

Paperbark Maple Bark

Tree leaves are down and most deciduous branches are bare. And though Crabapple LandscapExperts can enhance the winter landscape of the properties you manage with winter-flowering Camellia, Witch Hazel, Oregon Grape Mahonia, Japanese Paperbush, and Hellebore as well as cool-season winter color plants, there is another ornamental feature that takes center stage in the landscape now.

Peeling bark, known as exfoliating bark (as in skin care) is the natural process of old bark peeling away from a tree trunk in large curls or patches, revealing the new bark that is often of a different color beneath. Certain trees are known for this shedding of bark and used ornamentally in the landscape.  

Cork Oak Bark by P Tobin
Exfoliating bark adds visual interest and captures attention during the winter season. Some of the trees selected for this attractive feature include: 
  • Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum), 
  • 3-Flowered Maple (Acer triflorum
  • River Birch (Betula nigra
  • Lacebark Pine (Pinus bungeana)  
  • Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) 
  • American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) large tree
  • Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. Petiolaris) woody vine 

Crapemyrtle Bark by UAR
Besides beauty, exfoliating bark eliminates fungus diseases, boring insects and pollution from an ornamental tree by simply dropping off, all ecological advantages for the tree. Crabapple LandscapExperts often chooses these trees for the urban landscape, since they can refresh and renew their bark despite ozone and urban particulate matter. Call your Crabapple Rep now to discuss adding woody plants with attractive bark to your landscape during the winter planting season at 770-740-9739. 

Eucalyptus deglupta

Digging Deeper
Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus degluptais a tropical tree with incredible exfoliating bark! --> 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Think Outside the Box to Choose a Living Christmas Tree

Choose a Living Christmas Tree; Think Outside the Box!

Blue Spruce likely will not thrive
in Hotlanta
Purchasing a freshly cut Christmas tree, wreaths and greenery each year is not a profligate waste of resources, but specifically helps Christmas Tree Growers and the Agricultural industry in general. Just think of cut trees as longer-term "cabbages" specifically planted by tree farmers to be harvested in seven years or so. After the holidays put discarded trees to good use as habitat for wildlife, or chipped, shredded and turned into compost, thus recycling their nutrients and minerals and enriching the earth. It’s all good.  

On the other hand, the popularity of choosing a live Christmas tree growing in soil in a nursery pot has been on the rise. The problem is that many of these trees don’t survive the holiday season or don’t fit the Atlanta climate or the landscape plan if they do survive. Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS suggest you choose a tree appropriate for the climate, care for it correctly while it is decorated, and afterward, use it to good advantage and site it correctly when planting in the landscape.  

When shopping for the tree, consider its mature height and width and plan ahead to decide where it will be planted in the landscape. Savvy gardeners and landscapers dig the hole before they ever go shopping for a tree.

Vigorous rootball
When selecting a prospective tree, choose only healthy stock and not stressed leftovers from last season. Consider good color, good branching structure and flexible limbs. Knock the plant out of the container and look for non-pot bound, non-circling root systems with fresh white feeder roots.  The potting mix should be moist, and there should be no disease or insect damage evident.

Choose only from varieties that grow well in the area. While fir, spruce and pine are traditionally used for cut trees, they are not suited to live in metro-Atlanta. Garden Centers often market a wide variety of cone-shaped trees as holiday options, whether or not they do well long-term, so choose the one that’s best for the area and the specific landscape, even though it may not be a traditional choice. 

Now is the time to be thinking “outside the box”. What about choosing a dogwood, redbud, flowering cherry, deciduous magnolia or double file viburnum to decorate? Ornaments would look terrific hanging from bare branches, and one of those might be just the accent plant the landscape needs. 

Cone Rosemary
What about a cone-shaped rosemary or bay tree? Even a balled & burlapped selection is ok; merely place in a large landscape pot with drain holes and cover with mulch to keep evenly moist. 

Tropicals can be decorated!
Don’t fail to include the Tropicals section when searching for a living Christmas tree. The Norfolk Island Pine is “nearly traditional,” and one year I didn’t even shop but decorated our oversize Monstera deliciosa with a choice selection of my Mom’s vintage ornaments. It’s the season!

If a hardy tree is selected, don’t bring it inside right away, but keep it outside in a protected area until a few days before Christmas. Keep the soil moist but not wet and sheltered from winds and full sun. Acclimate the tree to warmer temperatures by moving it onto a covered porch or garage over a period of three to four days.

For needle-leaf or broad-leaf evergreens, decrease transpiration from the leaf surfaces and retain valuable moisture within the tree by spraying with an anti-desiccant/anti-wilt product.  A couple of brand names are Wilt Pruf or Cloud Cover.

Crabapple Warning: a living tree that soon will be returned to winter temperatures outside cannot be brought indoors for weeks on end without consequences. Warm rooms with low humidity can quickly dry out the tree. Dormant buds can break and grow in a “false spring,” only to suffer when moved back outside. Avoid bringing the tree indoors too early, since the less time spent in hot, dry indoor temperatures the better, and certainly no more than a week. Avoid placing near heat vents, forced air, radiators, stoves, but do consider a window where it will get some sunlight. Keep soil in the pot moist.

After Christmas move the tree back outdoors to that protected area so it can readjust for a week or so. When there’s a break in the weather, follow recommended planting procedures, with a wide, shallow planting holeabout twice as wide as the root ball, but not deeper.  Plant slightly higher than the surrounding soil because it will soon settle, backfill with the native soil and mulch the tree to retain moisture. Newly planted trees need even moisture, so water throughout winter and spring. The new addition will contribute holiday memories as it adds beauty to the landscape.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nature Indicates Best Planting Time for Bulbs is NOW!

Colorful tulips make a big impact on the landscapes you manage when they flower in the spring. 

Crabapple can add brilliant tulips to your Seasonal Color Beds by planting Spring-flowering bulbs now. Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS Floriculture Manager Chessa Azzolesi says, “We do not install tulip bulbs at the same time we install the fall pansies and cool season annuals. The ground is not yet cold enough, and the days are not short enough then. We install our tulip bulbs in December, usually one to two weeks before the Holidays.”

Some of Nature's “Guidelines” that signal when to plant bulbs 
  • Night temperatures average 40-50 degrees F. 
  • Soil temperatures hit 50-60 degrees F.
  • The UGA / Georgia Tech game has been played
  • Persimmons are ripe on the trees
  • Chickweed begins to appear in the flower beds 
  • Camellia sasanquas are in bloom
  • Tender houseplants are back indoors
  • Cicadas and crickets stop chirping 
  • Gloves are needed when walking the dog 
  • Fall foliage is past its peak and heaps of autumn leaves are on the ground
  • There's a run on fruitcakes at the grocery
  • Christmas wrapping paper goes on sale
  • Christmas Cactus is in bud
  • Crabapple winterizes your irrigation system 
  • Migrating birds fill the skies 
  • Peony foliage is brown and Hosta leaves are on the ground 
  • Car heater is often turned on 
  • Chipmunks and squirrels are actively burying pecans and acorns

Time is short! Call your Crabapple Rep this week at 770-940-9739 to get some Tulip bulbs added to your corporate landscape. 

Digging Deeper

To hear a quick Radio Spot on City CafĂ©’ with John Lemley on planting fall bulbs with Geri Laufer, click the link:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Match your Football Team Colors to your Garden Berries!

This time of year people respond to color in the garden and on the football field! Berries add a bright statement to landscapes and many ripen and color up now. Some of these berries share the same Team Colors that are displayed by some of Crabapple LandscapEXPERTS' favorite SEC athletic teams.

Berried Treasures

The most familiar berried shrub in the winter garden is Holly, with a profusion of Georgia Bulldog-Red berries set against spiny evergreen leaves. There are many different types of holly including the deciduous Winterberry Holly, American Holly, English Holly and plenty of hybrids. 
If you’re a Florida ‘Gator try the Orange Pyracantha berries. This is a low-growing evergreen groundcover or can be trained on a wall or espaliered to climb along a fence, loaded with orange berries.The beautiful woody ornamental produces an abundance of orange berries each fall and is an excellent source of landscape color fall through winter. 
Alabama Crimson Tide followers might try the Crimson-Red berries on the compact, evergreen Nandina. This is a prolific berry producer and delivers brilliant crimson foliage and generous sprays of crimson berries. They are extremely long-lasting, often continuing into the following summer. Versatile and durable, Nandina is effective massed as a border planting or as a specimen in the landscape. Birds that consume Nandina berries are known to become inebriated and subsequently fly into glass windows and doors. 

LSU Tiger fans might plant the superb shrub known as Beautyberry that sports Purple berries. Abundant clusters of the long-lasting purple berries are grouped along the branches, following small purplish-pink flowers in summer. Prune this deciduous shrub in late winter to early spring to promote branching and berry production. 

Kentucky supporters might choose the bright Blue berries of Mahonia that follow upright trusses of  fragrant yellow terminal flowers. The berries are sometimes called Oregon Grapes. Leathery, dark green leaves have spines that make a fine specimen plant or a barrier hedge. 

White Snowberries could suffice for the garden if your team has lots of “away games” since visiting teams often wear White jerseys. Hope your team has a Winning Season!  

Digging Deeper

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Watering -- Plants Need Water Throughout Winter

Now that metro-Atlanta has had a taste of cold weather, many folks are ready to roll up the hose and turn off the irrigation system. But conifers, broad-leaf evergreens, and recently planted ornamentals need additional water to be supplied to their disrupted root systems until their myriad feeder roots grow out into the native soils. Extra water is needed so the limited root systems can absorb enough moisture to supply limbs and leaves and to prevent die back.

If an inch of water per week is not supplied by rainfall, Crabapple LandscapExperts recommend slow watering applied directly to the root ball. A soaker hose or water breaker nozzle is a good choice for slow water delivery. Take particular care to water underneath the limbs of evergreens, specimens or hedges because the branches can act as a shield to divert rain water, leaving the ground drier than ever. For established plants with larger root systems, apply the water to a wider circumference to make sure all the roots are supplied. .

Atlanta's seesaw temperatures are confusing for people and plants alike! Trees, shrubs and perennials that were planted or transplanted this autumn are especially susceptible to drying out as temperatures range from below freezing to 68 degrees F. and from cold, drying winds to bright sunny days.

Evergreens transpire water out of their leaves all winter long. This makes it essential to replace lost moisture whenever temperatures rise above freezing.
  • Broad-leaf evergreens such as holly, anise, boxwood, pittosporum, magnolia, camellia and tea olive can rapidly dry out in winter as well as during the growing season. 
  • Needle-leaf evergreens like pine, juniper, arborvitae, cedar, yew and Japanese plum yew also need a water supply during the cold months. Conifer branches often prevent rain water from reaching the ground so that it is dry under the canopy even after a rain.
Two to three inches of a good organic mulch applied over the top of moistened soil will help to maintain moisture levels at a constant level. Keep an eye on your new transplants throughout the winter. Ask your Crabapple Rep if you have questions about wintertime water needs of your plants.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Top Tips Protect Plants from Cold Temperatures

This week in metro-Atlanta, Crabapple LanscapEXPERTS suggest you pay attention to the weather forecasts! In meteorologist lingo, “the Jet Stream is blasting south, bringing frigid air masses from polar regions” and this is called an “advective freeze". We know that windy cold with a sudden plunge in temperatures, sometimes prolonged over several days, makes plant protection difficult. Remember, healthy, hardy landscape plants on the properties you manage will be unaffected by this cold snap. 

How To Best Protect Landscape Plants

Tip 1.  Add mulch to protect newly planted roots. Apply organic mulch anytime to insulate shallow roots by reducing temperature fluctuations. Most woody ornamentals and perennials are root hardy, so use a layer of mulch to protect the crown and the root zone despite the fact that foliage may die back to ground level. Evergreens and newly transplanted plants especially benefit from a thick layer of mulch around their bases insulating the soil and allowing them to take up moisture despite periods of cold weather and avoid dehydration. Don't let "mulch volcanoes" touch the trunks though. 

      Tip 2. Drape burlap, canvas, old quilts or sheets, large cardboard boxes, or floating row cover fabric over plants you might want to protect for the duration of the coldest temperatures. This might include prolonging the life of fall flowers or tropicals. Covering is used for three reasons:

a.      to slow wind movement;
b.      to protect from frost; and
c.      to shade from early morning sunshine- devastating to frozen leaves

NEVER use plastic to cover plants;  not clear plastic, not black plastic, and not white plastic. Plastic traps solar radiation and causes a buildup of moisture underneath. If plastic is not removed at dawn (and who is going to do that?) the sun’s rays cause heat build-up and frozen plant tissue bake inside the tent.

Tip 3. Use windbreaks like fences, walls, tree canopies or the sides of buildings to protect container plants that can’t come inside. Coverings include frost cloth, sheets and quilts, plastic, cardboard panels or large cardboard boxes, and lean-tos propped against the wall.  

Tip 4. Consider building a quick-frame (cold frame) to provide additional protection for favorite or newly transplanted ornamentals. Drive stakes into the ground around the plant(s) then drape canvas over the stakes, making sure it reaches to the ground. This provides air flow and ensures the cover does not have direct contact with the leaves, since touching can injure the foliage. 

Tip 5. Water the soil ahead of the freeze or when there is a slight break in the freezing temperatures to maintain soil moisture, but do not over water. Watering melts frozen soil or container potting mixes and lets plants become re-hydrated.

7    Tip 6. Home gardeners: DO NOT try to use water as cold protection! Commercial agricultural enterprises sometimes use water from a sprinkler system to coat strawberries or citrus fruits. The idea is to keep the leaf surface temperatures near 32°F (0°C) because sprinkling utilizes latent heat released when water changes from a liquid to a solid state. But sprinkling must begin as freezing temperatures are reached and continue until thawing is completed. Water must be evenly distributed and supplied in ample quantity to maintain a film of liquid water on the foliage surfaces, possibly for days.

Although commercial farms uses sprinkling for cold protection, residential sprinkler systems do not have the flow volume to protect plants this way. Too much water can cause disease, plus the sprinkler itself can freeze up. As a result, cold damage to plants from inadequate amounts of irrigation water may worse than if nothing was done at all.

     Tip 7. Move container plants to a shaded location to avoid morning sun hitting them. Lift pots and containers and place on lumber or 'pot feet' to prevent waterlogging. Insulate above-ground pots with a layer of bubble wrap or hessian to prevent them freezing and cracking and ensure plant rootballs stay healthy.  

     The Last 3 Tips are for those of us guilty of stretching the Climate Zone envelope. These plants shouldn't actually survive, but just maybe . . .
     Tip 8. Blankets do not provide “warmth” unless an incandescent light bulb or a string of Christmas lights is added inside the covering. Choose extension cords labeled for outdoor use. (New LED lights won’t add heat.) This is sometimes used as a temporary measure for a day or two.   
Tip 9. Happen to have a cool greenhouse handy? Lucky! Tender plants grown in pots can be moved inside during bad weather. Or take cuttings of those that cannot be grown in pots and overwinter these in a warm greenhouse or on a windowsill, ready for planting in spring.

Without a greenhouse, move hardy container plants under a protective roof like a deck or porch, and group them together to increase their protection. Move tropicals indoors overnight to avoid temperatures below 35 degrees F. then cart them outside again for the sunny days. 

  Tip 10. Cover is especially beneficial for borderline tender plants that the gardener just had to give a try. The ever-increasing number of tender plants available may not withstand sustained cold without some form of protection. Hardy Tropicals may fit this description. Recent transplants are good candidates for protection, because they may not had enough time to establish strong root systems. 

      Crabapple LandscapExperts know that well-cared for, hardy landscape plants will not need any protection at all! Call your Crabapple Rep with any questions at 770-740-9739! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

10 Top Landscape Uses for Ornamental Grasses

Muhly Grass

CrabappleLandscapExperts know there are many benefits of using ornamental grasses in landscape design. Grasses are low maintenance and they provide year-round interest; Grasses are fast growing and drought tolerant. They attract wildlife and gently move in the wind.

There are grasses for any type of landscape situation, from drought tolerance, shade resistance, or beautiful ornamental inflorescence. See a dictionary of grasses here

10 Top Landscape Uses for Ornamental Grasses include:

Garden accent- site a specimen plant in a perennial border and create a focal point
Add texture –light and filmy grasses contrast with large-leaf perennials and geometric clipped- shrubbery 
Soften hardscaping- mobile waving of grass and movement is in contrast to solid buildings dramatic effect of 
      mass planting
Dress up decks, pools and patios- formal repetition in containers or casual groupings
Edging- short tufty grasses like blue fescue, grassy substitutes like Liriope, sedge or carex
Make colorful containers - adds a vertical note 
Fall and winter interest- persistent grasses will bleach in sun
Attract wild life - those that eat grass seeds and grains
Groundcover – turf grasses, plus grassy look alikes mondo grass and Liriope
Add privacy - plant a row of tall grasses to screen an area, such as switch grass, reed grass, miscanthus, 
      pampas grass

Talk with your Crabapple Rep about enhancing the landscape you manage with ornamental grasses. 770- 740-9739. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

10 Top Reasons to Plant a Tree this Fall!

Here's a shocking recommendation that makes quite an impression on Crabapple's customers: "Plant acorns on 40 foot centers." This graphically contrasts the size of a small seed or seedling plant with the depth and breadth of a mature oak. 

When a shade tree is planted, it is for future generations to enjoy. Most people like trees and relate to them on a personal level, so here are some reasons to plant a tree this fall-- and when you think of some more, go ahead and add them in the comment section!

1. Trees increase property values by softening harsh outlines of buildings, screening unsightly views and providing brilliant fall color. Slow-growing, small ornamental trees are intrinsically valuable. Trees add beauty and grace to any community setting, making life more enjoyable, peaceful, relaxing. Trees offer a rich inheritance for future generations. 

2. Trees reduce air conditioning utility bills for cooling during summer heat an average of 33% percent  through their shade and respiration, providing natural "low-tech" cooling. This reduces the need to build  additional dams, power plants, and nuclear generators.  Deciduous trees provide passive solar temperature regulation, providing shade in summer, but offering light during winter. 

3. Tree shelters and windbreaks reduce heating bills in winter, increase snow entrapment, wind reduction  and wildlife habitat. Living snow fences hold snow away from roads, keeping roads open and reducing  road maintenance costs. Tree shelters for wildlife habitat and livestock reduce weight loss during cold  winter months and provide shade for moderating summer heat, along  with significantly increasing crop yields compared to fields with no windbreaks. Windbreaks create a more favorable micro-climate for cropland by reducing wind and heat stress on the crop, while preventing topsoil loss and reducing soil moisture losses.

4. After leaves drop to the ground in autumn and are raked, they provide excellent mulch for flowerbeds and gardens, as well as exercise for people raking them.

5. Trees help reduce stress in the workplace, increase the speed of recovery of hospital patients and instill community pride.

6. Forests provide summer and winter range for migratory birds. 

7. Trees reduce soil erosion and water pollution, help recharge ground water and sustain stream flow. Forests provide watersheds for lakes and ponds.

8. Trees provide nutmeats (pecans, walnuts, hickory, hazelnuts), fruit (peaches, apples, plums, persimmons), berries for jams and jellies (cherries, chokecherries, buffaloberries), and maple syrup, in addition to pharmaceutical  products (for example, Taxol from Taxus or Yew trees in the Pacific NW has been successful in fighting breast, ovarian and lung cancer). 

9. Fast growing trees provide fuel wood for stoves and fireplaces by establishing a  
continuous supply of energy plantations, while managed forests provide pulpwood, 
lumber, plywood, veneer and other wood products on a sustained yield basis.
10. Trees alleviate the “Greenhouse Effect” by absorbing carbon. A single tree absorbs about 13 pounds of CO2 per year, and one acre of new forest sequesters around  2.5 tons of carbon annually. Planting 100 million trees in the U.S. would reduce the amount of carbon by an estimated 18 million tons per year. 

So why not pick out a tree and have Crabapple LanscapeExperts plant it for you this autumn?

Digging Deeper: 
SOURCES: Kim Coder UGA Extension,  and Glenn Roloff USDA Forest Service;

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top 10 Landscaping Tips for the Transition to Fall

As Summer draws to a close and Autumn gears up in metro-Atlanta, it's the perfect time to give the landscape some attention. Crabapple LandscapExpert think this list of 10 landscaping tips will help with the transition. 

1. Plant a cool-season veggie garden this fall
Wow Thanksgiving guests with Arugula and radishes from the garden! Plant radish and cilantro seeds now, and starts of lettuce, endive and arugula, along with garlic, onions, broccoli, cabbage, even Brussels sprouts. Be sure to keep them watered as they get established.

2. Keep an eye on rainfall.
Combined rain and watering should equal 1 inch per week. If it doesn’t rain, water new transplants and veggies along with perennials, shrubs and trees for best transplanting success.

3. Compost! Compost! Compost!
Pull out spent tomatoes and ragged zinnias, knock the soil off of the root balls of summer veggies and annuals, and chop them up before putting them in the compost bin. Raked autumn leaves should be added to keep the green to brown ratio (nitrogen : carbohydrate) in balance.  (BTW, diseased plants, nematode-knotted tomato roots and weeds with seeds should be put in a plastic bag and trashed, not composted.)

3. Divide and/or plant perennials
Fall is the perfect time to dig up and replant all kinds of overgrown perennial flowers. Often there’s enough to share with the neighbors. Perennials are lower maintenance than annuals, staying in place and reblooming year after year, so try some new ones at the local independent garden center.

4. Fall is the best time to plant woody ornamentals
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees because the soil temperature is warm from the summer and that promotes root growth, while the air temperatures are cooling down, decreasing transpiration.  Plus, deciduous trees and shrubs are losing their colorful leaves, making them even less prone to wilting or drying out.

Dig large, generous holes, only as deep as the nursery pot, but three times as wide – think of the size of a hula hoop laid on the ground. Water in thoroughly and mulch with pine bark or pine straw. Then keep them watered until spring if it doesn’t rain instead.  

5. Cool season lawns are revving up
Crabapple fertilizes and waters Fescue lawns that do their best growing during the cool seasons in Hotlanta. We rake off fallen leaves and dead grass, while patching worn areas with fresh hybrid Fescue grass seed covered with straw. Fescues are mowed high to provide good root growth. 

6. Warm season lawns are going dormant
Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine lawns are turning that comforting tan color that shows they are dormant. Warm season lawns can be over-sown with annual rye grass or even sprayed green if desired. Call your Crabapple Rep to discuss. 

7. Eliminate broad leaf weeds in lawns
Spot-treat broad leaf weeds already growing in the lawn with a post-emergent herbicide. The green weeds are particularly unsightly in dormant warm season lawns. 

8. Add spring-flowering bulbs to the landscape
In addition to pansies, add daffodils and tulips to add brilliant color early next spring. You will hardly notice winter if the daffodils start blooming in January! Smaller bulbs like hyacinths, crocus, grape hyacinths and blue star also add interest. If you have critters (chipmunks, squirrels, pine voles, mice) that eat the tulip bulbs, plant cloves of garlic along with the flower bulbs to repel them. Daffodils (Narcissus) are poisonous to critters and reliably perennial, so they are a superb choice for metro-Atlanta.

9. Mulch after planting to provide many benefits
In addition to adding a layer of insulation, mulch maintains the moisture level and much more. Read more on this Crabapple Blog -- all about organicmulch.

Corona By-Pass Pruners
10. Pruning – Don’t even think about it now!
Pruning now will stimulate ‘dormant buds to break’ below the cut and grow into tender little twigs. These are then subject to cold damage by low temperatures in the coming winter season. Sharpen the pruners now, but wait until February to make the cuts.  

These landscaping tips will help your landscape A little gardeningmaintenance or help from Crabpple LandscapExperts will help with the seasonal transition. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Gardening is the Easiest, and Remarks on Controlling Cabbage Worms

Broccoli, photo from BH+G
Bye-bye Warm Season Veggies
Pull up those tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cukes and other hot-weather vegetables that have stopped producing and gotten old and bedraggled. Remove weeds, then fork in rich compost, well-rotted manure and/or Nature’s Helper.

Cool Season Veggies Reign Supreme October to April
Plant seeds or starts of veggies that do well in the cool months. 
These are often separated into five families of plants
Cabbage Family: cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, arugula, radishes, winter cress, radishes, beets, turnips, 
Parsley Family: Parsley, carrots, cilantro
Lettuce or Daisy Family: loose-leaf lettuce, mache, corn salad, curly endive, radicchio, arugula
Onion Family: garlic, elephant garlic, shallots, scallions, possibly leeks in ATL
Violet Family: throw in a few (edible) pansies or violas to enliven the garden

Growing Cabbage at the base
of a fence
The temperatures are down, the rains come regularly and gardening is easy with Mother Nature on your side. These cool season crops continue until hard frosts in January, and pick up again at the first sign of warm weather. Or place a floating row cover over your crops to keep temperatures even and cabbage worms away. 

Checkered White Cabbage Moth
photo by Megan McCarty124
OOPS!  What to Do for Cabbage Worms? 
Those white butterflies flitting above the newly planted brassicas may look cute, but (horrors) they may be laying eggs on the cauliflowers, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and radishes in the organic home garden. These eggs hatch into Cabbage Loopers, Imported Cabbage Worms, or Diamondback Moth larvae that are hungry for your tender leaves in the fall garden.

Cabbage Looper
Wikipedia Commons
5 Ways to Foil Cabbage Worms
1. Try setting-up a bird feeding station next to those cole plants and enjoy watching the birds grab dozens of cabbage worms to supplement their seedy diet each day.

2. Handpick the green caterpillars. My grandma used to drop them into a jar of kerosene, but the 2-brick method also works well.

3. Sprinkle plain flour on the young Brassica Family plants. The worms will eat it, bloat and die. Make an effort to coat the undersides of the leaves where the eggs are laid unnoticeably and the smallest caterpillars start eating.

4. Diatomaceous Earth is naturally occurring siliceous, sedimentary rock made of the fossilized remains of diatoms (hard shelled algae). It crumbles to a fine powder with an abrasive feel, like pumice. If you are a caterpillar or a slug crawling over diatomaceous earth, the individual particles slice you up like knives with sharp, micron-sized particles.   

5. Floating Row Covers are reusable, safe, easy, and organic. They are made of a lightweight material such as spunbonded polyester placed directly over the young crops, or draped over low hoops in a row. Floating Row Covers allow sunlight and water to get to the plants, but they form a physical (organic) barrier to protect the plants from insect damage. In addition, they mitigate cold temperatures during those bitter days Atlanta gets in late January and February, and thereby prolong the growing/ harvesting season.  Floating Row Covers come in a long roll that is anchored with landscape staples or bricks to keep them on the plant rows.

Plant a Fall Garden and have home-grown veggies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a lull at Valentines, and then coming on strong for St. Patrick's Day and Easter/Passover.