Wednesday, May 8, 2013


First week in May:
ü      Prune your spring flowering shrubs (lilacs, forsythias, spireas, etc.) after they have finished blooming. Thin these out by removing up to one-third of the older branches at or near ground level.
ü      Plant vegetables such as snap beans, tomato plants, sweet corn, summer squash, cucumbers and a second crop of radishes.
ü      Check your trees, especially wild cherry, for tent caterpillars: remove and destroy tents.

Second week:
ü      Continue your fruit tree spray schedule to control disease and pest problems.
ü      Keep newly planted trees and shrubs watered (unless it’s a rainy month). Do not let the soil dry out.
ü      Plant gladiolus, dahlias and other summer bulbs.

Third week:
ü      Stay out of your garden when plant foliage is wet. Walking through a wet garden spreads disease from one plant to another.
ü      If you are having a problem with earwigs and sow bugs, try trapping them with rolled-up newspapers that have been moistened with water. The insects will hide in the paper by day. Gather up the traps and dispose of them frequently.
ü      Spray roses regularly (every ten days using a fungicide and insecticide). Read and follow all label directions.
ü      Closely examine your ornamental plantings for disease and pests. Check your dogwoods for borers; boxwood, holly and birch for leafminers; evergreens for spider mites and aphids.

Last week:
ü      Mulch flowers, established vegetables and evergreen shrubs. Grass clippings are great and easier to handle if allowed to dry first. Never use clippings from a lawn that has been treated with an herbicide.
ü      Move your houseplants outdoors when night temperatures stay above 50 deg. Avoid sunburn by moving the plants gradually from the relative darkness of the house to their bright summer locations. Begin by putting them in a well-shaded location and progress to increasingly lighted areas.
ü      Pinch annuals when 4-6 in. high to promote bushy growth, for example, zinnias, petunias and salvia.


Workshops To Be Held at the Smyrna Outreach and Research Center (SORC)

Propagating Cuttings
 Pat Renfrow – Tuesday, June 4 from 1:30-3 p.m. at SORC.
Create a Lavender Basket: Learn a combination of basket making and lavender sachets  to      create a miniature lavender basket
 Sherry and Art Tucker – Saturday, June 29 from 1:30-3 p.m. at SORC.

Directions to SORC 
Route 13 N towards Smyrna, past Food Lion Shopping Center. At the light (Clarkie's Garage on  the  right), turn right towards Leipsic onto Smyrna-Leipsic Rd. Go over Rt1 overpass, past Bombay Woods development, and the SORC farm will be on the right Turn into 2nd driveway on right .

Friday, March 29, 2013

Kent Co. Master Gardeners’ Annual Scholarship Plant Sale

Kent Co. Master Gardeners will sponsor their Annual Scholarship Plant Sale at the Delaware State University greenhouse on  Saturday, April 27 for the public. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
 “The plant sale is advertised as a ‘plant-a-holic’s dream sale’ with annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, vegetables and native plants. We try to have the more unusual varieties and because the public wants flowers, we try to get early bloomers. This year we are hoping to have some tomatoes and peppers that have been started by Kent Co. Master Gardeners along with the usual and, hopefully, unusual perennials from their gardens.”


First half of April:

§         Feed shrubs and roses—read label directions for special instructions.
§         Take a soil sample to determine exact amount of nutrients the soil needs to grow and produce flowers or fruit
§         Mow lawn if grass is more than 2 ½ in. tall. The ideal mowing height is 2 in.
§         Prune and shape spring flowering shrubs after blossoms fade.
§         Begin regular scouting program for fruit trees. Pesticides should be used only when pest populations are high enough to cause damage to plants and damage reaches the economic injury level.

Second half of April:

§         Finish transplanting trees and shrubs.
§         Plant ground covers to those terrible spots where nothing but weeds seems to grow. There are many to choose from—some with flowers and others with beautiful foliage.
§         Start vegetable, herb and flower seeds now. Read the back of the seed packet for specific instructions.
§         If weather is favorable, plant carrot, celery, lettuce, radish, spinach, sweet corn, turnip, snap bean and parsnip seeds; and transplant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes.

Seven Easy Ways To Help the Honeybees

From an email from the Rodale Institute: Meme Thomas, instructor for the Honeybee Conservancy classes at the Rodale Institute and founder of Baltimore Honey, says there are seven simple ways to help both the honeybee and native pollinator populations.
1. Include nectar- and pollen-rich plantings in landscapes. Focus on plants that bloom during the important feeding windows of late winter, pre-spring (February – April) and during the high summer when there is usually a dearth of nectar (June – November).
2. Choose bloom colors that will attract honeybees. Honeybees cannot see the color red, so selecting blooms that are white, yellow, violet, orange, blue and ultraviolet is a good idea. Also, plant in clumps or cluster patches of same-color blossoms. Single plants/blooms are much less attractive.
3. Ditch the chemicals (even the organic ones). Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are detrimental to honeybees. Even organic Neem-based products are a no-no.  Instead, implement beneficial companion plantings and other no-spray practices in your yard, garden and farm.
4. Welcome the weeds. White clover and dandelions are honeybees’ early- and late-season food sources for nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein). Nutritional deficit may very well be a contributor in honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, so the more natural food sources you can provide, the better.
5. Provide fresh, safe water. Placing layers of large pebbles just above the water line in your birdbaths or even a shallow dish will give honeybees a safe place to rehydrate and rest before returning to their hives. Birdbaths, otherwise, may drown honeybees.
6. Spread the word. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to follow these simple steps to support foraging honeybees across your local community.
7. Buy local and sustainable. Purchase not just honey, but as many of your groceries as possible from local producers who are using all natural methods and practices. Sustainable honeybee stewards ensure their bees are treated well, and local, organic farmers provide the right environment for both native and cultivated pollinators.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


First half of March:
v     Finish pruning shrubs and ornamental trees, except spring flowering shrubs, before growth starts. Prune spring flowering shrubs (lilac, forsythia, etc.,) as soon as they finish flowering.
v     Finish pruning home fruit trees. Do not leave stubs; they usually die and become great entryways for fungus.
v     To prevent the infection of fungal spores and bacteria into the plant as a result of fresh cuts, do not prune in damp or wet weather.
v     If soil is dry enough, begin primary soil tillage.
v     Add soil nutrients based on results of soil test.
v     To support newly transplanted trees from spring winds, use flexible ties between rigid stakes.
v     If weeds are beginning to grow in flower bulb beds, pull them by hand to prevent disturbing the bulbs and roots.
v     Spray home fruit trees (apples and pears) with dormant oil before buds swell and when temperatures are not likely to drop below 40 deg. for 24 hours.
v     Fertilize trees, roses, shrubs and evergreens.

Second half of March:
v     Plant cool-season crops (peas, lettuce, cabbage, onions, kale, broccoli, radishes and turnips), if weather conditions permit.
v     If a pre-emergent weed control is going to be used on the lawn, apply it now. Read and follow all label directions.
v     Leave mulch over strawberries until the plants begin to grow. At that time, the mulch must be removed to allow leaves to develop in the light.
v     Prune hedges before new growth begins.
v     Fertilize azaleas and rhododendrons with acid-type fertilizer.


  March is obviously a very busy time for gardening.  It's also the month where we're working on a membership drive for precipitation observers.  I'm the Delaware state coordinator for an NSF supported citizen science program called CoCoRAHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow).  I'm also the Delaware Associate State Climatologist.  CoCoRAHS has tens of thousands of volunteer observers all across the country who take daily precipitation measurements.  I'm sure gardeners are doing this type of activity all the time already, so gardeners are perfect candidates to join CoCoRAHs.    

Here's a link to the CoCoRAHs website where you can find out more information about the program:

Kevin Brinson
DEOS Systems Manager
Associate State Climatologist
State Coordinator of CoCoRAHS Delaware
University of Delaware

214 Pearson Hall
Department of Geography
Newark, DE 19716

Phone: (302) 831-6906