Gardentalk Gardening tips and information from KTOO in Juneau
Gardentalk

Gardentalk

From KTOO

Gardening tips and information from KTOO in Juneau

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Gardentalk – How to plant flower and garlic bulbs this fall

Bulbs ready for planting. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) As temperatures slide below freezing this month, now is a good time to plant flower and garlic bulbs. "Obviously, the ground should not be frozen," says Master Gardner Ed Buyarski. "That makes it a lot easier. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/10/Garden100820.mp3 He suggests working compost and other organic fertilizer into the soil before digging holes for the bulbs. Garlic, especially, is a heavy feeder over the winter. Planting guide attached to bag of bulbs (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Garlic bulbs should be planted pointy end up, about two or three inches deep, with uniform spacing about six inches apart. Rake soil over the holes and cover with seaweed or compost. Then cover the whole planter with clear plastic or tarps so the bulbs don't get moldy and the fertilizer doesn't leach away in the rain. Flower bulbs should be planted differently, according to the variety. Check the bag or box for specific instructions on planting depth and spacing. Buyarski says he usually digs a small trench for planting a large number of bulbs all at once. Sprinkle in some bulb fertilizer just before planting the bulbs. Replace the soil over the bulbs in the trench or hole, and then cover it with mulch. Planting guide attached to bag of bulbs (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Once bulbs get twelve to sixteen weeks of temperatures below 40 degrees, that will trigger green sprout formation. Just cross your fingers that Juneau doesn't experience another mild spell later this winter. If there's another hard freeze after the bulbs sprout early, then both the bulb and eventual blossom could be damaged.

Gardentalk – How to plant flower and garlic bulbs this fall

Gardentalk — How to stretch your harvest well into fall

These buckets of water, particularly when placed inside a greenhouse, can delay or even prevent the effects of a frost or sharp freeze. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Temperatures are dropping, and the amount of daylight is diminishing rapidly each day. But it's hardly the time to give up entirely on gardening. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/10/Gardentalk100120mixdown.mp3 Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says he's stopped watering his greenhouse tomatoes as a way to force them to ripen. "Peppers, eggplants, zucchini, squash — all of those are pretty tender. They, too, are kind of semi-tropical," Buyarski says. "We can wrap them up in fleece blankets (or) put buckets of water in around them, that helps slow the freezing process." The fleece blankets will provide as much as five degrees of insulation. The buckets of water will act as cold sinks, delaying or even preventing freezing in some cases. For potatoes, cut off the plant above the soil and put a tarp over the mound. That will keep the potatoes dry and help the skins toughen up before digging them up for indoor curing. "Our carrots, cabbages, kale, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas — I guess all those cabbage family plants particularly — will get better with colder weather," Buyarski explains. "Their sugar content increases," he says. "So, we can leave them out there and just harvest them as we need them until a really hard frost threatens, that might actually freeze the soil." Buyarski says he's even harvested brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips late into the fall and early winter.

Gardentalk — How to stretch your harvest well into fall

Gardentalk – Preparing your ornamentals for winter hibernation, safe from Juneau's cold

Dahlias bloom in a Lemon Creek yard in September 2020. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Ornamental plants like petunias, begonias, dahlias and fuchsias won't survive even a mild Southeast Alaska winter outside. We need to bring sub-tropical plants into a space that won't freeze, says Master Gardener Ed Buyarski. "If they hit 32 degrees, they're probably toast," Buyarski says. "I guess frozen, not toast." https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/Gardentalk092420.mp3 Once a hard frost knocks back the foliage of dahlias and begonias, Buyarski recommends removing the tubers. Wash off the dahlia tubers while allowing the begonia tubers to dry out before putting them in a labeled paper bag and storing it in a place that does not freeze. Dahlia tubers can also be stored in dry sawdust, dry shredded paper or dry straw in a paper grocery bag. They can be divided now or in the spring. Fuschias should be trimmed back to 4-to-8 inch stems and can overwinter in a place colder than 40 degrees, like a root cellar. But Buyarski says check on them regularly to make sure they don't dry out over the winter.

Gardentalk – Preparing your ornamentals for winter hibernation, safe from Juneau's cold

Gardentalk – How to stop a fungus invasion and why your veggies might be turning yellow

A fan keeps the air moving in a North Douglas greenhouse. The lower leaves of the lettuce in the background are turning yellow. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Are your veggies turning yellow this late in the season? Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says it's likely because most of the soil nutrients have been been washed away by this summer's rains. It may be too late this season for an application of weed juice or fertilizer. So Buyarski recommends trimming leaves from vegetables as soon as they begin turning yellow. Otherwise, they will be susceptible to slugs and fungus. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/08/Gardentalk082020.mp3 With all the rain and moisture we've had this summer, Buyarski also recommends harvesting squash, zucchini and cucumbers as soon as possible — before they succumb to a fungus, which can spread fast in an environment where there is little air circulation. The lower leaves of this lettuce are turning yellow and will soon fall victim to slugs and fungus if they are not removed. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Gardentalk – How to stop a fungus invasion and why your veggies might be turning yellow

Gardentalk – Pick those apples and turn them into pie, jelly and applesauce

"Homemade Apple Pie" by WinstonWong* is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 There may be a few hundred apple trees of several different varieties in Juneau. The exact number is unknown. For many of those trees, it's harvest time. But Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says tree owners should look carefully at the interiors of their trees. If the leaves and branches get too thick, then future apples on the north side of the tree won't get enough sunlight to ripen. He recommends thinning out any interior growth while you're already up there picking apples. Yellow Transparents are usually the earliest apple variety. They should be picked at the end of August, when the fruit is still a little green. They will get mealy and turn pale yellow if you leave them on the tree too long. Other varieties, like Pristine and William's Pride, usually are picked later in the season as their flavor improves. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/Gardentalk091720.mp3 For anyone wanting to plant a new apple tree, Buyarski says now is the perfect time to order. He suggests picking out an early ripening, scab resistant variety for next spring's planting — and getting together with others for ordering multiple trees This woolly bear caterpillar was spotted roaming an apple tree in Juneau in August 2016. (Photo courtesy Ed Buyarski) .

Gardentalk – Pick those apples and turn them into pie, jelly and applesauce

Gardentalk – How to top tomatoes and get the most out of hardy, cold-tolerant greens

Close up view of tiny heirloom cherry tomato flowers that are preparing to bloom in an indoor aeroponic garden in September 2020. For tomato plants growing outside or in a greenhouse, such flowers should trimmed off now so the plant can devote its remaining energy for ripening of existing tomato fruit. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) If you have tomato plants flowering in your greenhouse right now, now is the time to top them off. Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says tomato plants need to devote any remaining energy to ripening fruit that has already emerged instead of wasting it on flowers that are unlikely to mature or produce any fruit later this fall. Just use nail clippers or your fingers to trim or pinch off any new flowers. Buyarski also says it's the last call for harvesting cucumbers and zucchini. This summer's prolonged rains have set up perfect conditions for a severe spreading of fungus. "To the point that removal (of those plants and vegetables) is the best option," Buyarski says. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/Garden090320.mp3 Also, the gardening season is not over. You can plant lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, kale, and radishes in your greenhouse right now. They will either be ready for a fall harvest or will tolerate the winter's cooler conditions and have a head start next spring. Buyarski says he has nine-month-old lettuce in his greenhouse that is just now beginning to bolt.

Gardentalk – How to top tomatoes and get the most out of hardy, cold-tolerant greens

Gardentalk – Planning ahead for a springtime splash of color

Bulbs bloom in the middle of the Douglas roundabout in Spring 2015. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Bulbs are already appearing in Juneau stores right now. But Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says don't plant them just yet. Instead, set them aside in a cool, dark place like your garage. Then wait to plant them until at least the middle or end of October, when temperatures are really dropping. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/09/Gardentalk091020.mp3 Buyarski says that for best root growth, bulbs should get at least 90 to 120 days in cool soil of about 40 degrees. "Last year was kind of weird," Buyarski remembers. He recalls his flower and garlic bulbs started sprouting their green top growth too early during last December's mild conditions. "Then, temperatures on New Year's Day dropped about 30 degrees," Buyarski says. The new period of cold temperatures postponed any further top growth. He says you can start preparing any well-drained soil now. If the soil is too moist, then mix in some sand. Bulbs come in all varieties, colors and heights and may be specified as early or mid-season bloomers. Tulips might only bloom well for their first season, but other varieties might bloom year after year. Unprotected tulip buds are a favorite browsing snack for deer in the higher elevation neighborhoods of Juneau and Douglas. But deer seem to stay away from daffodils, snowdrops and alliums.

Gardentalk – Planning ahead for a springtime splash of color

Gardentalk – Should you plant mystery seeds? Should you squish woolly bear caterpillars?

A woolly bear caterpillar tries to escape its glass prison in a North Douglas kitchen in August 2019. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Alaskans say they've been getting unsolicited packets of seeds in the mail. Or seeds that Alaskans think they ordered from U.S. seed retailers, but they ended up coming from China or other places overseas instead. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/08/Garden081320.mp3 Don't plant them, says Master Gardener Ed Buyarski. They have not been inspected for disease and may be an invasive species. They also may have not been approved for importation into the U.S. "There's rules for that too," Buyarski says. "Some things are not allowed because of crop seed protection." U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service botanists examine tomato seeds sent to U. S. residents from Uzbekistan to determine if they harbor any plant pests or disease. (USDA photo) Dave Schade, head of the Alaska Division of Agriculture, encourages Alaskans to call his office at 745-7200 if they get any mystery seeds from overseas. He says his staff will ask questions about the packages and how the seeds arrived in the mail. They'll also ask you to send the packages to their office in Palmer. From there, the mystery seeds will go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for further examination and investigation. "Tell us what you have. We'll tell you how to get it to us," says Schade. "We'll collect the information of what you think happened" Schade also said the agriculture division would love to get the original packaging — and don't open the little plastic bags with the seeds. Buyarski advises gardeners to stick with known varieties from reputable U.S. seed companies. If you do know where your seeds came from, now is the perfect time for a second planting of fast-growing greens like lettuce, mustard greens and kale. Buyarski also warns that the root maggot may be infesting root vegetables in Juneau. Do not put root maggot-infested vegetable remains into your compost. Buyarski says gardeners may be able to keep the main portion of the vegetable, but they should get rid of the roots and surrounding soil by burning them or putting them in a bag for the dump. Also, the woolly bear caterpillar is back in Juneau, chewing on trees, bushes, vegetables and herbs. They've been seen feasting on apple trees, alders, parsley and berry plants. Buyarski encourages gardeners to squish the caterpillars and throw them in the trash. He advises against letting children play with the caterpillars because their white hairs can irritate the skin.

Gardentalk – Should you plant mystery seeds? Should you squish woolly bear caterpillars?

Gardentalk – Collecting and planting your own flower and vegetable seeds

A kaleidoscope of Alaskan wildflowers in a meadow off Sawmill Creek, near Berners Bay. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) If you've ever coveted your neighbor's prize cucumbers or wanted to duplicate an Alaskan wildflower meadow in your backyard, there's a way you can do that. Just collect the seeds and plant them yourself. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/08/Gardentalk080720web.mp3 Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says he collects seeds from kale, radish, parsnips and spinach in his garden. He's also tried growing shooting stars, wild columbine and chocolate lily flowers from collected seeds. But timing is key. "Those can all be collected once the seed pods, the stems finish blooming, turn brown — and then some of those seed pods will start to open up," Buyarski says. "If you wait too long, they will seed themselves out across your garden. Kind of like in my garden, I've got kale growing everywhere where it has gone to flower over many years." Purple or mountain shooting star near Juneau. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO) Buyarski says he's now growing primrose seedlings from seeds that he collected in April from the plant's tall stem. Lupines and geraniums have seed pods that explode to spread their seeds out further away from the plant. Buyarski recommends picking the pods before they burst, while they're still a little bit green. Put them into a cardboard box and store them in a dry place, like a garage. Seeds can be dried over the winter or planted immediately. In the latter case, they will become dormant with this winter's cold weather before naturally sprouting in the spring. Kale, columbine and mustard seed pods selected by Ed Buyarski from KTOO's Agricultural Test Station and Garden of Science. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Gardentalk – Collecting and planting your own flower and vegetable seeds

Gardentalk – How to thin out apples and veggies, and when to pick peonies

This locally grown apple tree has already been thinned of extra fruit. (Photo courtesy Ed Buyarski) It may seem a little counter-intuitive at first. But you have to get rid of some apples now to get bigger and better tasting ones at the end of the season. https://media.ktoo.org/2020/07/Garden072320.mp3 Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says gardeners should thin out clusters of four or five apples to a reasonable leaf-to-apple ratio. "Somebody who's being really obsessive, they say forty leaves to one fruit,' Buyarski said. He prefers leaving one per cluster so that the remaining apples are spaced out along a branch. Thinning apples will allow more color and sugars to develop in the remaining fruit. It will also extend the life of the tree because it removes extra weight that could break limbs and branches. Any scabby or wormy apples should be thrown in the garbage, not in the compost. Buyarski is also thinning out beets and carrots to about an inch apart before starting with mid-season planting. It's also time to start planting lettuce, radish and turnips seeds. Peony flowers and stems should be picked before they bloom. For proper timing, Buyarski says buds should feel like a marshmallow just before all the flower petals open up. This way, peonies will last much longer than if you waited for the flowers to fully open before picking them.

Gardentalk – How to thin out apples and veggies, and when to pick peonies

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