Gardening Daily Tips 112

Iris, Dutch (Iris xiphium)

Plant type: Perennial

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5a to 9a

Height: 18″ to 24″

Spread: 0″

Exposure: full sun

Bloom Color: Blue, White, Yellow

Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring, Mid spring

Leaf Color: Green

Growth Rate: average

Moisture: moist

Soil Condition: Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Well drained

Form: Upright or erect

Landscape Uses:

Massing

Special Features:

Not North American native, Suitable for cut flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms

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Q&A: Sowing Seed Potatoes

Question: When should I plant seed potatoes in the garden,and are grocery store potatoes as good as seed potatoes?

Answer: Seed potatoes should be planted in March and can be purchased at garden centers and nurseries in January and February. Look for certified seed potatoes to avoid introducing diseases into your garden. Most grocery stores sell potatoes that are treated to prevent them from sprouting to extend their shelf life. Rarely will you find a potato that can be used for propagation in the garden. I’d choose certified seed potatoes at the nursery. The types they carry are the varieties that grow best in your local area.

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Q&A: Planning A Garden With Children

Question: Each of our kids has a different idea of what our garden should be. Our yard is only 50 by 50 feet. How can we accommodate their wishes in this space?

Answer: It’s great that your children care enough about gardening to want to have a say in the process. If you ask more questions, you may well find that kids are quite happy with a scaled-down version. Most children want hideaways, lookouts, mountains, and water. They may be satisfied with something as simple as a bean teepee, a ladder up the yard’s best climbing tree, a mound of grass, and a tabletop water garden that doubles as a birdbath. Also, let each child have a place of his or her own. Creating several 1-foot squares of garden in which each child can plant whatever he or she wants most to grow is a fun way to mark the territory.

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Q&A: Are Tillers Necessary?

Question: I notice that many of my neighbors use tillers, even for small gardens. My plot is under 10 x 10, and a tiller seems expensive for such a small space. Is it better? Can I achieve the same results with manually turning the soil?Also, what is the advantage of making little raised furrows? All of my water just runs off.

Answer: Tillers are nice to have and do a good job when you have a large place. My garden is about 3 times as large as yours and I use my trusty shovel. With a small tiller, usually you cultivate down 6 to 8 inches deep. With my shovel, I cultivate 10 to 12 inches or more. Raised beds or furrows are needed when the water table is high or the soil is very heavy–this helps with drainage. If you have light, sandy soil, make a trench and plant in the trench instead. You can make the trench as deep or as shallow as needed depending on the size of the seed you are planting. As the plants grow, you can pull a little soil up around them.

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Tip: Thin Seedlings with Scissors

Exuberant sowing of small seeds, such as those of lettuce, carrots, and radishes, will lead to a thick mob of baby plants that must be thinned. Pulling and tugging on the tiny seedlings can injure those you intend to leave in place, however. Avoid this problem by using small scissors to cut the extra plants down to soil level.

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Tip: Divide Late-Blooming Perennials

Divide late-blooming perennials, such as aster, sedum, solidago, and chrysanthemum, that have become overcrowded.

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