Happy Earth Day!

With all the crazy weather of the past few days and in celebration of Earth Day, we thought we’d brighten your day with a few pics of all the new plants that are coming to life in the greenhouse. Featured here are some of the combos we’ve been working on. Maybe this will help with your spring fever and get the creative juices flowing.

Workshops Under Way

A few pics from out latest fairy gardening workshop. Enjoy and be inspired!

Spring Is Here

Face Lift

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Every year, when we tell people that we still work, even through the winter months, they invariably ask us, “what do you do during the winter?” We find plenty of ways to keep busy, but one of our main goals during the off season is to do what we can to make our facilities better. This winter, we’ve been giving our store a face lift and preparing a new fairy garden display area. Primarily, that means a lot of painting.

We’re giving the floor a more subdued slate gray covering that coordinates better with the rest of the decor. Our red floor was getting a little tired and needed an overhaul. We’ve also repainted the bathroom, added a purple accent wall to our fairy garden display area and updated some of our wooden trim with a fresh white color. The overall effect is to make the story feel more open and airy, and the space is much brighter and more inviting now.

As you can see, this is not a task for the faint of heart. We’ve had to get creative with our storage options while painting because of our high inventory volume–and new things are coming in all the time. It feels an awful lot like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Even Lily has volunteered to help–she provides great moral support and reminds us every once in a while that we need to take a break so we can play ball with her.

We’re excited to see the finished product and look forward to being able to show off our renovated store this spring!

Workshops!

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It’s that time of year again, and we’ve begun to schedule our various workshops here at Moraine Gardens. We will be giving our fairy/miniature gardening and container gardening workshops again this year, and we are contemplating adding one or two new workshops–but more on that later.

We’re excited about our workshops this spring and are confident that we’ll be able to offer a great workshop experience, since we’ve got a whole year’s experience under our belts this time around. The workshops with be structured much the same way as last year, but we’ve got new plants and a plethora of new houses and accessories that we know you’ll fall in love with.

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This year, we’re kicking off our workshop season with our “Spring Fever” workshop, a celebration of the first day of spring! This will be a fairy/miniature gardening workshop, and we can’t think of a better way to start out spring than feeling the satisfaction of having completed a whole garden before the last frost.

Another highlight of our container gardening season is our Earth Day workshop. In this workshop, you’ll receive some tips on how to make your container gardening practices more eco-friendly as well as general instruction on how to achieve stunning container garden results.

Here are our fairy/miniature workshop dates:

“First Day of Spring!” Fairy/Miniature Workshop ~ Friday, March 20th – 1pm-3pm

Fairy/Miniature Workshop 2 ~ Saturday, March 28th – 1pm-3pm

Fairy/Miniature Workshop 3 ~ Tuesday, March 31st – 10am-noon

Fairy/Miniature Workshop 4 ~ Thursday, April 9th – 10am-noon

and our container gardening workshop dates:

Container Gardening 1 ~ Thursday, April 16th – 1pm-3pm

Container Gardening 2 ~ Saturday, April 18th – 10am-noon

Earth Day Workshop ~ Wednesday, April 22nd – 10am-noon

Container Gardening 4 ~ Friday, April 24th – 5pm-7pm

You can find more detailed information on our workshops here and specifics for the fairy/miniature workshops here and container gardening workshops here.

We look forward to seeing you and sharing the joys of container gardening with you this spring!

Why are my plants turning yellow?

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The Problem

We’re to that point in the summer, especially with a wet summer like we’ve been having, where containers start to look a little ragged and the leaves on your plants are probably starting to turn a little yellow. This is a condition know as chlorosis.

Sweetgum-leaf-interveinal-chlorosisChlorosis is the result of a chlorophyll deficiency. In most cases, the tips of the newest leaves will be the first to turn yellow. Then the discoloration will work its way down the leaves and into the older foliage. As you can see from the picture, the veins of the leaf will remain a darker green. In severe cases the leaves can turn almost white.

There are a few conditions that can cause chlorosis, but one of the most common is iron (or ferrous sulfate) deficiency. Now, the problem is not that there is an iron deficiency in the soil, because most soils have plenty of iron to satisfy any plant’s needs, but that there is a shortage of the proper type of iron. Of the two types of iron found in the soil, the kind that is often lacking is the more soluble, and therefore more readily usable, form.

The Reason

So why do plants need iron?

Even though most plants don’t need a lot of iron, it is essential that they have the little bit they need because without it, the plant cannot produce chlorophyll. Plants use iron to transport oxygen and other nutrients needed for photosynthesis from the roots up to the leaves. Iron is also used by many plants in some enzyme functions.

The Solution

Give your plants iron!

Many garden centers sell chelated iron fertilizers (chelated is just a fancy way to say that it’s water soluble) which can be mixed with water according to the proportions given on the label and then fed to the plants by watering them with the mixture. This is an easy way to give iron to houseplants and plants growing in containers. If you have trees, shrubs, or beds that need iron, there are fertilizers such as copperas or other high-iron fertilizers that can be worked into the soil around the plants that need it.

Unfortunately, giving your plants the iron fertilizer may not be enough for it to have its intended effect since the problem is not always a lack of iron but conditions that inhibit the availability to plants. There are several factors that can inhibit a plant’s iron intake besides a non-soluble form of iron. These factors include:

  • high soil pH
  • high levels of phosphorus in the soil
  • too much clay soil
  • overly compacted and/or wet soil

Fortunately, there are solutions to each of these problems.

Fixing the pH

Highly alkaline soils (levels 8 and higher) restrict the plants ability to absorb iron because high pH decreases iron’s solubility. If you have applied an iron fertilizer and it seems to be having no effect, you may need to lower your soil’s pH by adding acidic matter to the soil. One easy way to lower the pH in beds and around trees and shrubs is to work left-over coffee grounds into the soil.

Fixing phosphorus levels

It is hard for plants to get too much phosphorus because this nutrient is incredibly important for good plant health. However, on those rare occasions when a plant has too much available phosphorus, the plant will store the excess phosphorus in the form of phytic acid, binding up other important nutrients such as iron in the process. To correct this condition–which will usually only happen as the result of over-fertilization–simply use a lower phosphorus (the middle number) fertilizer.

Fixing clay soils

You will never have to worry about this condition in your containers if you use a quality potting mix when planting your containers, but this condition is frequently encountered in flower beds and other in-ground plantings. Clay soil lacks the organic matter which contains the nutrients needed to make the iron in the soil available to the plants. To fix this, work organic matter such as peat moss and compost into the soil. For heavy clay soils, it may take a few years of working in organic matter to obtain a suitable loamy soil.

Fixing wet or compacted soils

When the soil becomes too wet or too compacted, there is not enough air for the roots to be able to take up the iron in the soil. This problem is closely related to the problem of clay soil since clay soil in beds and plantings makes drainage slower and clay soil is often heavily compacted, but it can also occur in containers that have been over-watered. Once again, this problem can be lessened in beds by working organic matter into the soil so that the drainage and aeration are better. Another method which is effective in both containers and in-ground plantings is to use a chelated iron fertilizer as a foliar spray or soil supplement.

So now you know why your plants are turning yellow and have the know-how to fight chlorosis.

Helpful sources and further reading:

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/leaf-chlorosis-and-iron.htm

http://www.smart-fertilizer.com/articles/iron

http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=325

“Too high, won’t die; too low, won’t grow.”

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This little saying gets thrown around a lot here at the greenhouse.

It’s a quick and easy way to remember not to plant things too deeply, which is a common mistake that many new gardeners make.

Unless you’re a veteran gardener who knows your plants and which are the exceptions, following this rule will help more of your plants survive than not. Many people just don’t think about it. They plant their flower beds and vegetable gardens, and if something gets planted a little too deep, they don’t even notice.

So why is it important not to plant things too deeply?

Because it will make it harder for your plants to grow and could even cause their stems to rot off.

The crown of the plant is where the stem meets the soil and turns into the root system.

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Ideally, the crown should be level with the soil, and most plants don’t like to be planted any deeper than the crown with many doing just as well when planted a little higher.

As mentioned before, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Tomatoes, for instance, should be planted with the crown of the plant several inches deep. The reason for this is that all of the stem that’s underground will send out new roots that will help strengthen the plant and allow it to gather more nutrients. Some sedums will do the same and can be planted deeper than the crown.

Even the plants that can be planted deeper will do just fine when planted with the crown at soil level as well.

One plant to be especially careful with is the tuberous begonias as they are susceptible to rotting from over-watering.

What’s the point of all this?

When in doubt “too high, won’t die; too low, won’t grow” is always a good rule to follow.