Skip to main content

Welcome to My Jungle - March, 2016

Dogs and turf don't always mix, especially in small confined areas. For homeowners, pets (mostly dogs) are the most frequent cause of uneven patches of succulent dark green growth and/or brown areas. And although the exact mechanism of how urine injures turf is not completely understood, its damage is very similar to that resulting from a salt-based fertilizer spill. This has led to a generally accepted belief that animal urine contains enough concentrated salts to dehydrate the turf after repeated applications. It has also been noted that damage seems to be worse with female dogs, most likely due to urination behavior. Female dogs (and all young dogs) do not "mark" (with urine) like adult male dogs and tend to release their urine in more concentrated locations. Some of the things you can do to help minimize damage are as follows; train your dog to urinate in a designated low-visibility area, rinse the area where the dog has urinated with a watering can even though this may not completely eliminate a greening effect, maintain adequate soil moisture especially during times of drought when urine damage is at its worse, follow a responsible nitrogen fertilizer program and mow the lawn as high as possible (2-3"). All of these steps will aid in maintaining a healthy, vigorous turf that can recover from pet damage.

Spring is officially just around the corner and many gardeners are anxious to start work in the home garden and maybe add something new. And although you won't see it's most outstanding feature, the bloom, until at least late fall, consider adding a witch hazel (Hamamelis spp. and cvs.) to your landscape. There are four species that are generally grown by the nursery trade including the Chinese witch hazel (H. mollis), the interspecific hybrid (Hamamelis x intermedia), and the two North American natives - the common (or American) witch hazel (H. virginiana) and the vernal (or Ozark) witch hazel (H. vernalis). The common witch hazel blooms in September-November while the other species bloom from January-March. Up close, a cluster of witch hazel flowers reminds one of a sky full of fireworks; each flower contributing four wispy, twisted, ribbon-like petals that really stands out during a time of otherwise barrenness. In addition to yellow, petal colors range in shades of red and orange. The Missouri Botanical Garden has quite a collection of witch hazels, with the most concentrated collection in the Jenkins Daylily Garden. There are also many specimens in both the English Woodland Garden and Japanese Garden. Now is the time to visit Missouri Botanical Garden to view and select your favorite witch hazel so you can begin the process of sourcing your "next" favorite garden plant.

Reminder that very hardy vegetables should be planted in the garden four to six weeks prior to the last average frost date for the area. Assuming April 24th as the last average frost date for the St Louis Metro East, the week of March 13 begins the 2-week window best suited for transplants like asparagus (crown), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish (root), onion (set or plant), parsley, potato (tuber), and rhubarb (root). So if you missed getting these transplants started in time for planting, start shopping the local nurseries. Kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onion, pea, rutabaga, salsify, spinach, and turnip can all be direct seeded. April 3rd starts the 2-week planting window for frost tolerant vegetables—transplants of Chinese cabbage and cauliflower, and direct seeding of beet, carrot, Swiss chard, mustard, parsnip and radish.