Snow Mold when the snow is “Lawn” gone

When the snow finally clears Grey Snow Mold becomes evident on the turf with a dramatic display
When the snow finally clears Grey Snow Mold becomes evident on the turf with a dramatic display

So why all the problems with snow mold this spring? The answer lies in my opinion with the weather last November. Even though you possibly did everything right, weather conditions set up for the perfect storm, especially if your lawn is clay soil based or you haven’t core aerated in a few years. The lawn was still growing when the early snows hit last year….followed by a long winter of snow cover. The lawn is the host and the disease we call snow mold was present waiting for conditions to be ripe. You see even though we as people are dealing in winter with frigid winds and cold….under the snow which serves as insulation the turf is in a wet humid dark environment with temperatures around or just above freezing….ideal conditions for snow mold. I went back to look and the first 10 to 15 days of November we had some days in the 50’s and 60’s. Mid November on we had wintery wet snow and the blanket caused a problem. Especially if you are a person who puts their lawn mower away based on a calendar as opposed to putting it away with a good short cut when it stops growing. The turf continued to grow and could not photosynthesize due to dark conditions. At that point the dormant snow mold had the “perfect storm” conditions to develop under the snow and persist until the snow finally cleared last week. In most cases a leaf raking with some sunlight and air will allow the lawn to recover. In serious cases where there is crown damage their may be dead grass where turf areas need to be re-seeded. It is a good reminder too in my opinion that if you have a clay based soil lawn that fall aeration is a good idea. It is also interesting to note that the fungus under the cover of snow produces a gas that can be toxic to turf leaves.

Matted turf and the grey mycelium appears as the snow piles clear
Matted turf and the grey mycelium appears as the snow piles clear
Some people startled by it's appearance describe it to look like "spider webs" all over the lawn
Some people startled by it’s appearance describe it to look like “spider webs” all over the lawn
Then add the damage from Voles actively shearing vegetation below the cover of snow and the brown clippings that remain...you have a mess!
Then add the damage from Voles actively shearing vegetation below the cover of snow and the brown clippings that remain…you have a mess!

The good news is in most cases a light raking with a leaf rake allowing light and air into the turf will eventual fix the problem and the lawn will grow out of it. Feeding and some over seeding when the soil get’s warm enough in April will also make the difference in recovery.

What’s “Growing” On?

Purp tulips
Could it be….spring is arriving?

(Garden Trends 2015)
The activity of gardening is synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. People see their outdoor space and activities as an extension and reflection of themselves. Not only is the outdoor area a living space, it is also a reflection of our personalities and a healthy lifestyle.
The Millennial generation (18-35) is leading the charge for change including front yard gardens and goats in cities and suburbs. In some cases this includes movements to change neighborhood ordinances. Recently we posed the subject of the return of the clothesline to the yard on my radio show. The phone lines lit up with wide and varied opinions. As a kid I remember the clotheslines in the neighborhood and the sometimes embarrassing public displays of garments flapping in the breeze. Many Baby Boomers like me have these memories including the smell of line dried sheets on the bed at night. For others they couldn’t imagine having to hang laundry in the yard and dealing with weather, bird droppings or airborne pollen.
Young men today are a demographic that has inspired the backyard to be an entertaining area with food to grow, grill, and a place to play games with their young children. They are a group with tremendous influence and buying power customizing their outdoor area to suit their needs including what is being called “Garden-tainment”.

If you're lookin you ain't cookin...let's get grilling!
If you’re lookin you ain’t cookin…let’s get grilling!

Interest in soil health is well “grounded” as we continue to grow “local food” and understand the need for healthy soils. Planting trees is making a comeback including community trees to enhance urban living. Trees experienced a downturn in planting during the economic struggles the past 8 years but as the housing market improves so does the interest in the benefit of healthy trees to the value of a property and a community.
Edible plants, berries, herbs, vegetable plants and “farming” your deck or patio with containers to grow in “bite-sized pieces” has great appeal to time pressed but health conscious gardeners. The concept of the garden no matter how small is aligned with the sense of living a healthy lifestyle. An “urban farmer” so to speak that cultivates and works the small piece of land they own. Along the lines of “bite size pieces”, reckless gardening is out. In other words if you have the money to put in a high maintenance garden and landscape then you probably have the money to have someone take care of it for you. Few people do, and what’s the fun in that? Workhorse plants that are easy to grow and give 3 seasons of interest are in great demand.

Viburnum is a workhorse in the landscape providing 3 to 4 seasons of interest....easy to grow and attracts wildlife!
Viburnum is a workhorse in the landscape providing 3 to 4 seasons of interest….easy to grow and attracts wildlife!

Demand for new varieties that bloom longer or are attractive with little care continue to drive the trends in the landscape. The resurgence in interest in succulents or air plants like tillandsia for example is a result of water conservation awareness and low maintenance trending. Everything including your phone and car are “smarter” today….why not your garden?
Finally color in the garden to express your personality. There is less concern about what the current trending color palettes are, and more about inspirations that allow you to express your personality.

Running Wild

I enjoy my runs in April as I prepare for the 5th 3rd River Bank run coming up in May. Every time I hit the Kent Trails at this time of year I see something new popping up. The Kent Trails between M-6 and 84th street are fertile with wildflowers. From the Trilliums to the Trout lily, from the Bloodroot to the Mayapple, I get a good swift kick in the “plants” on my training runs. My favorite “Ka-Bloom” has and I think always will be the Hellebores I find in bloom along the trail.

Hellebores in bloom along the trail
Hellebores in bloom along the trail
Trillium in the morning sun
Trillium in the morning sun
Trout Lily
Trout Lily
Mayapple
Mayapple

 

 

 

Hot House

I believe there is a direct link between your health and being surrounded by plants. Not just consuming healthy vegetation….but absorbing the “mood” benefit of plants can have a direct impact on wellness. Watch this news story where we tried a “Yoga Heat” class in our greenhouse:

http://www.wzzm13.com/story/life/wellness/healthy-you/2014/04/15/greenhouseyogawellness/7750371/

 

How long has this been “growing” on?

How long has this been “growing” on? I’m so anxious to get growing, how about you? After a long winter we’re all ready to grow something. In April a lot of garden activities center on lawn care, mulching, soil preparation and some planting of hardy plants like trees. Remember Arbor Day? Well there’s more to it than that, it’s “grow” time. You can get a jump start on the season with some tender plants by pushing the envelope with some light frost tolerant annuals and by polishing up on your container planting skills. Contain yourself, it’s “grow” time.

Tulips growing through pansies planted last fall and reblooming in the spring
Tulips growing through pansies planted last fall and reblooming in the spring

Let me first “plant” this idea in your head. I’m a big fan of pansies and violas because they’re colorful and tough. That’s right, frost tolerant and durable with the cutest little colorful faces you’ve ever seen. I suggest you plant up some pots of pansies to get your fix. If we get an unfortunate night time temperature that goes beyond a light frost into the 20’s you can always cover them or bring them in for the night. I know of some folks who have their containers on a cart or on wheels so they can roll them into the garage at night if a cold snap occurs. You’ll find pansies enjoy cool weather and with some sunshine will bloom their heads off.Pansies wake up Other cool season tender plants that can help you get a jump on the season are the colorful Swiss Chard, perky Snapdragons, bold Ornamental Kale or the unassuming Sweet Alyssum. If it’s vegetables you crave the hardy and tough cole crops may be your answer. Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips are all healthy tough guys. cole crops
Of course other tender plants can be started indoors. A sunny windowsill is a great spot to start some tomatoes or pepper plants. These plants will have to be hardened off before going in the ground sometime in May.
The great thing about container gardening or raised bed gardening is the soil warms quicker in spring than ground soil, maintenance is easier, and you have control over the soil your plants will be growing in. Don’t go dirt cheap on the potting mix. Your soil should be fluffy not clumpy, hold moisture without being soggy, and give plant roots the perfect mix of air, moisture, nutrition, and gravitas. It will keep your plants well grounded. Roots need air, as well as water, to grow.
Now get yourself some colorful pots and get growing. Your friends and neighbors will be asking “how long has this been growing on?”