Thursday, May 24, 2012
If you see this on your mulch, don't scream. It may look extremely disgusting, but it's actually a harmless, fungus-type growth known as slime mold. The popular name for one variety, based on its appearance (what else?), is "Dog Vomit."
From University of Illinois extension educator Sandra Martin:
"Slime molds are not true fungus but can appear on the top of mulch. Slime molds are often bright yellow, but can also be white, gray, brown or red. They can vary from a few inches in diameter to a foot across. They are not decomposing the mulch, but are living off the bacteria and other critters in the mulch."
Slime molds like the "Dog's Vomit" kind are not parasitic and so pose no danger to your plants or family.
The easiest way to remove slime mold is to simply shovel it out of the bed. You can even leave it there if you don't feel like dealing with it, as it will lose its color, turn into a powdery form (spores) and disappear within one week. Watering slime mold will disperse the spores into a cloud, so unless you want the neighbor kids to suck in a big dose of spores, don't shoot it with the hose.
For more information on slime molds visit this page at the University of Illinois Extension or call the experts at Whispering Hills: 847-658-5610.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Whispering Hills' own flower expert Shelley Isenhart has come up with the perfect guide to container planting, and it starts with three words.
Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers: Steps to a gorgeous container garden
-Thrillers, not to be confused with the talented dancing corpses in Michael Jackson's hit video, are tall, interesting plants to be placed in the center or back of a container. Good thrillers add a central, eye-catching element and include ornamental grasses or tall varieties of coleus.
|Diamond Frost Euphorbia|
|Sweet potato vine, a stunning spiller|
-Use high-quality potting soil in the container and add a granular, time-released fertilizer such as Florikan's Dynamite.
-Maintenance is the key to a successful container garden. Stressed container plants will look the part quickly, so it's important to practice 'deadheading' - the pruning of dead blooms - and water frequently. Probe the soil with a finger every other day to check for moisture content.
For more information on container gardening, visit the guide at the University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
#2 MAP IT
Make a list of the vegetables you want to plant and look up growing tips for each kind. The University of Illinois' horticulture extension has a handy chart to help you with this. Sketch out which vegetables will go where before you just go buying all kinds of plants at the store.
#3 MAKE YOUR BED
This is the most important part of a vegetable garden. Proper soil for a garden is soft, loose, nutrient-rich and well-drained. Northern Illinois soil does not naturally have those properties. It is hard and full of clay, so be sure to mix in an adequate amount of topsoil and a nutrient-rich amendment (like mushroom compost, Bumper Crop, or material from your own home compost pile) to prime your bed before planting.