THE FLOWERS ARE GROWING WILD

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Carroll Community College will offer a special spring course, "Wildflowers of Carroll County," during April and May.

Taught by Dave Pyle, naturalist and wildflower photographer, the class uses the language of description and use of field guides to sharpen identification skills, as well as the origin and meaning of flower names.

Pyle has served as chairman of the Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center and is acting chairman of the newly formed Hashawha/BearBranch Nature Center Advisory Council.

He also has been invited by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to serve as a leader for the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage at Blackwater Falls State Park May 9-12.

The first class will meet 7 to 9 p.m. April 4 in RoomA274 of the new campus, 1601 Washington Road, then again from 7 to 9p.m. May 16. Sessions are spaced to provide maximum exposure to a variety of wildflowers.

The class also will meet 9 a.m. to noon April 20 and May 4 for field trips. Individual attention will be given tothe needs of both the beginning and more advanced naturalists.

Information: 876-9610.

LANDSCAPING AWARDS TO BE GIVEN

WESTMINSTER --The county's first Landscaping Design in Development Awards Committee will recognize outstanding achievements by area developers.

Six residents associated with the landscaping and building industries will serve on the committee, including Timothy Hunter, Robert Kimmel, Timothy Madden, Michael Oakes, Barbara Peck and Elizabeth Trickett.

Developments and business sites will be considered on the basis of landscape design in a commercial/industrial development, forest preservation and protection in a residential development and ground maintenance on a commercial site.

The committee also will judge the amount of existing woodland successfully retained in a development and thetechniques used to protect trees during construction before announcing the forestry conservation award.

Members will evaluate the use of annual color, plant and turf maintenance on commercial and multi-family housing sites when considering sites for the grounds maintenance award.

The committee will present the awards semi-annually. The first ceremony coincides with Arbor Day, April 3.

PILGRIMAGE TO STOP IN COUNTY

The 54th annual Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage begins April 13.

Organizers promise participants a look at the beauties of spring throughout the state.

The tour will arrive in CarrollCounty May 3, visiting brick and stone houses and several of the area's well-maintained barns.

Information: 1-301-821-6933.

COPING WITH SPRING GARDENING

So far, spring snows, rainstorms, sudden dips in temperature and high winds have put outdoor gardening chores on hold.

Patient waiting is essential.

As for the plants themselves, most will come through these winter vagaries unscathed.

Spring flowering bulbs are tough and endure cold snaps. The flowers are "refrigerated" in place, and there even seems to be one advantage: their bloom season lasts longer.

Many pictures have been taken of bulbs in flower with collars of snow around their bases.

But woody plants like trees and shrubs that were stimulated by the earlier warm weathermay be in peril.

START A VEGETABLE GARDEN!

Now that spring is nearly here, Carroll countians may be feeling the urge to get their hands in the soil and start their own vegetable gardens.

But what if you're one of the many Carroll residents who lives in an apartment or town house and lacks the space for large-scale cultivation?

Don't despair. Many vegetables can be grown easily in pots, window boxes and other containers.

Spinach, leaf lettuce, radishes, green beans and small-size vine tomatoes are all good candidates for tiny gardens.

Some varieties have been adapted specifically for growth in containers.

The basic requirements of container-grown vegetables vary little from those cultivated in the ground.

Growth and yield depend on two basic factors, sun and water.

Vegetables need plenty of sun, a minimum of five hours a day.

Water and container size tend to be the limiting factors in container gardens.

If a container isn't large enough, the plant will take up all the water and then stop growing until it's watered again.

Unfortunately, no specific watering schedule exists that applies to all plants in all situations.

Asmall plant in a large container in semi-shade may require watering only once every three or four days.

Conversely, a large plant in asmaller pot in full sun may need to be watered two or three times a day.

Basically, you need to water the plant enough to prevent wilting.

Proper drainage is crucial to the success of a container vegetable garden. Containers should have some provision for drainage of excess water. Vegetables won't grow if their roots are saturated.

The growing medium also is important.

The Carroll County Extension Service recommends mixing peat moss with potting soil or using a commercial "soilless" blend that provides aeration for vegetable roots and has good water retention properties. The agency also suggests fertilizing container-grown vegetables with a soluble fertilizer. Follow label recommendations for amount and frequency of application. Mix thefertilizer with the water you use for your plants.

Pests are justas much of a problem for container-grown vegetables as they are for those grown in the ground.

Most insects are attracted by the aroma, and many diseases are spread by airborne spores; so plants on the balcony of an eighth floor apartment are just as vulnerable as those on the ground floors.

Small-scale gardeners may wish to remove insect pests physically rather than by using chemical sprays.

For gardeners with large in-ground pots, such an approach may be less feasible. Information: 848-5013 or 875-2801.

PRUNING METHODS CHANGING

Tree pruning techniques have changed drastically in recent years, as some long-accepted practices have been found to be ineffective or even harmful to the tree.

One such practice is topping, in which the highest parts of a large tree are lopped off.

Topping began in Europe, probably as a way to increase sunlight into gardens.

It also wasprobably a way to control the size of trees and to create special landscape effects.

But topping can injure a tree in many ways.

Here are just a few of the bad effects of this practice:

* It puts the tree into shock because of the imbalance between the roots and thecrown.

* It greatly reduces the tree's food-making potential and depletes stored reserves.

* It exposes bark to direct sunlight, which often scalds it.

* It leaves large branch stubs that seldom close or callus. Nutrients are no longer transported to these stubs, leaving them vulnerable to insect invasion and fungal decay.

* New growth generally comes in the form of "water sprouts," which are more susceptible to insects and diseases. The new growth also is highly susceptible to wind and snow damage.

* It is only a temporary measure to control oversized trees.

If you have large trees that must bepruned heavily each year -- such as those growing beneath utility lines -- consider removing them and replacing with smaller-growing plants.

In some cases, the trees can be thinned to allow better air circulation and permit more light to get through the branches.

This benefits turf growing in the vicinity of the trees.

Before pruningtrees and shrubs, consult with those familiar with newer practices.

Information: 848-5013 or 875-2801.

PLAN BEFORE YOU PLANT ROSES

Planting your first bed of roses involves careful consideration of where, how and what to plant, but it is worth the trouble for the beauty it will add to your garden all summer.

The Carroll County Extension Service has several recommendations for rose planting.

First, take a look around the yard for places where roses could make a difference.

Roses are among the most widely adaptable and resilient of plants, yet, to do their best, a well-chosen site is essential.

Ideally, the site should receive full sun each day, although roses willperform admirably if they get only five or six hours of direct sun.

Good air circulation is an asset because it helps dew and rain dryquickly, discouraging disease.

Too much wind, however, may damageplants.

As for soil, a loamy type that offers good drainage is best, but all soil types can be readily improved with organic additivessuch as peat moss, dehydrated cow manure, shredded bark or compost.

Generally, soil that grows good grass will grow fine roses.

Roses are available in a wide assortment of growth habits, shapes and sizes, as well as many leaf and flower colors, forms and textures.

Few other shrubs, or even perennial flowers, bloom so readily the first year of planting or for so long a time.

You can choose from hundreds of appealing varieties of roses.

Some factors that may influence your choice are fragrance, color, and, of course, how you intend to use them.

The fabulous floribundas, for example, are especiallygood for mass color effect.

Compact and valued for their continuing profusion of bloom, they are ideal for edging a walk or driveway, surrounding a mailbox, creating a low hedge or enhancing a foundationplanting.

These include such popular varieties as Showbiz, Sun Flare, Impatient, Intrigue and French Lace.

Modern shrub roses like Bonica, which is a 1987 All-American Selection, and Betty Prior, makecolorful hedges or accents in front of evergreens.

They generallyare hardy and disease-resistant, and some produce bright red fruits that attract birds in winter.

Climbing roses, such as America, Improved Blaze, Golden Showers and Joseph's Coat can frame a window or door or screen out unwanted views.

Finally, there are the classic staples -- the hybrid teas and grandifloras that deserve the most visible spot you can provide for them.

Consider Sweet Surrender and Sheer Bliss for intense fragrance, Olympiad and Mr. Lincoln for outstanding reds and Honor and White Lightning for pristine whites.

Catalogs of reputable mail order nurseries and specialist growers are helpful when selecting varieties.

Roses may be purchased as dormant, bare-root plants, the way mail-order firms usually ship them, or growing in containers at nurseries and garden centers.

In any event, plants should be inspected to make sure canes are not dry and wrinkledbut smooth, plump and green or red.

The best plants will have at least three canes, each 3/8-inch in diameter.

Bare root plants can be planted when soil is workable and after severe freezes are no longer expected.

Container-grown roses can be planted any time during the growing season. Information: 848-5013 or 875-2801.

COMPOST A VALUABLE TOOL

Gardeners who neglect to start a compost pile will be missing a valuable source of humus for their vegetable and flower beds.

Composted organic matter is useful in growing all types of plants.

Finished compost is dark, soft and spongy.

When applied in large amounts, compost aids soil drainage, moisture retention and thenutrient-holding capacity of soils.

Every household and yard has some organic waste products that can go into a compost pile.

Good compost materials include carbonaceous products -- leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, wood chips -- or nitrogenous wastes, such as fresh grass clippings, kitchen waste (egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, vegetables and fruit scraps) and animal manures.

Never incorporate meat scraps, grease, diseased plants or plants that have been treated witha weed killer.

Horticulturists advise gardeners to place many different ingredients in the compost pile.

They also recommend that acompost pile contain twice as much carbonaceous materials as nitrogenous materials.

This will ensure the most rapid decomposition of the materials in the pile.

Some gardeners use only one item, such as leaves. That means it probably will take longer for the material tobreak down in the compost pile.

A compost pile can be made in an enclosed fence above ground or in a trench below ground.

To start the compost, spread down a 6- to 8-inch layer of organic matter, followed by a layer of soil.

Moisten each layer with water before the next one is added.

Remember to keep the top of the pile slightly concave so that rainwater will run into the pile and not off the sides.

Alternate the layers between organic matter and garden soil.

Turn the pile regularly to mix and aerate.

This speeds decomposition as will one or two cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer scattered between layers.

It is natural for the pile to become compacted and shrink. Apile may be two-thirds of the original size after only a few days.

When this happens, neither air nor water can penetrate the pile, and decomposition will cease. So, turning the pile is important to the success of the compost.

The finished pile should be no less than 4feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high to ensure proper temperate increase inside the pile.

The time needed to obtain the finished compost will vary with the ingredients used, size of particles, aerationand moisture content.

The more often the pile is turned, the faster the decomposition process.

About three to six months is required for decomposition of most composted material before it is ready foruse in the garden and around landscape plants. Information: 848-5013or 875-2801.

TRANSPLANTING IN URBAN SOIL

Urban soils are different from most of the soils in Carroll County.

Urban soils are generally characterized as compacted subsoils with little or any topsoil.

On this type of site, compaction limits the movement of oxygen and water through the soil. Often these compacted soils are poorly drained and contain insufficient oxygen to support root growth.

In an urban soil, rainfall does not infiltrate the subsoil very easily. As the water moves through the soil around the planting hole, it suffocates the root system, causing symptoms like chlorosis, dieback and leaf scroch.

Most people view these symptoms as drought injury and compound the problem by increasing the frequency of their waterings.

When trees are planted on an urban/compacted soil, they must develop their fine root system near the surface where oxygen levels are higher.

Planting holes in compacted/urban soils should be as much as three times the diameter of the root ball, with sloping sides. If the site is very wet, one-third of the root ball should be placed above grade.

In some cases, a pedestal of undisturbed soil should be left under the root ball to eliminate settling and to raise the tree out ofthe wettest soils in the bottom of the hole.

By following these simple planting recommendations, one can assure transplant success on even the most compacted soils. Information: 848-5013 or 875-2801.

GARDENERS CAN KEEP BAY CLEAN

New looks at old-time methods can help Maryland gardeners do their part in keeping sediment and pesticides from contaminating the Chesapeake Bay.

Charles A. McClurg, vegetables specialist for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, suggests these steps toward sediment control:

* Choose a level site for your garden to help avoid run-off after heavy rains.

*Use organic mulches to improve infiltration and keep rain from splashing and dislodging soil particles.

* Maintain a grassed area around your garden to trap sediment run-off.

McClurg offers these non-chemical steps for preventing disease and insect problems:

* Remove and destroy old plant stems and vines from last year's garden. Ideally, this should be a fall chore.

* Keep down weeds for a distanceof 25 to 30 feet in all directions from your garden. Weeds harbor insects and may be a source of virus disease spread by insects.

* Plant vegetables as early as possible. This will allow them to mature before late-season insect buildups.

Another way to minimize pesticide use is to plant crops that are tolerant or resistant to some of the common insects and diseases. Ask your nearest Cooperative ExtensionService office for the 1990-1991 edition of "Vegetable Cultivars forMaryland Home Gardens" (Leaflet 15). Most hybrid tomatoes these daysare resistant to fusarium and verticillum wilts.

Don't overlook physical barriers to keep insects out of your garden, too, says McClurg. You can enclose your plants with an old-fashioned wire-screen cage. Or, you might lay modern polyester non-woven fabric over your garden rows.

Use chemical pesticides sparingly if necessary. Buy in small quantities. Mix up only what you need at one time. Follow label instructions and precautions precisely. Information: 848-5103 or 875-2801.

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