One of the most common questions we get here in the fall at Van Wilgen’s is, “Why are my pines turning yellow? Are they sick?”
Thankfully, the answer is “no”.
All trees and shrubs renew their foliage annually in the spring and summer and shed old, unneeded foliage in the fall. This is most apparent on deciduous trees and shrubs, such as maples and hydrangeas, which shed the entirety of their foliage annually. However, evergreens like pines, spruces, and holly shed as well as a part of their regular life cycle. Most evergreens hold their needles or leaves for two to three years before shedding, so what you are seeing is actually evidence that your tree is growing, thriving, and aging normally. No need to worry!
One of the most overlooked, yet most important, fall gardening tasks is fertilization. As the temperatures drop and everything begins to go dormant, you might think your plants and lawns don’t need to be fertilized. Not so! Fertilizing in the fall sets your plants up for success in the spring. Roots will hang on to the fertilizer you apply now and come spring your plants and lawns will get that extra boost they need to push out new growth.
So what kind of fertilizer should you use? To make it easy we’ve broken it down into a few categories. Still not sure? Give us a call, or pay us a visit. We’re always happy to help!
Acid-Loving Trees and Shrubs
For your acid-loving trees and shrubs including Rhododendron, Holly bushes, and Hydrangeas, we recommend Holly-tone. But instead of using the full recommended dosage, for your fall application, you’ll want to use only half the amount.
For the non-acid-loving plants in your yard such as lilac, butterfly bush, and boxwood, use Plant-tone at the full rate. Typically you’ll want to use 1 cup of plant-tone for every foot of shrub width.
Deciduous Trees and Shrubs
Once the leaves have all dropped from your deciduous trees such as maples, weeping cherries, and plum trees, you’ll want to apply Tree-tone at the full rate. It may seem like a lot, but you’ll want to apply 9-15 cups of Tree-tone per every inch of tree diameter.
After you’ve done your last lawn mow of the season (hooray!), you can give it a head start in the spring by applying your favorite conventional or organic lawn food. Come spring your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood!
It’s June, and your gloriously green, spring lawn, may not be looking quite as vibrant right now. So let’s do something about it! It’s time to give your lawn a little boost. As the weather turns hot, the cool-season grasses in our lawns start to suffer and could use a little of your help to look and feel better. When working on your lawn, just a few things to keep in mind:
• Small patch seeding only! Don’t take on big seeding projects this time of the year. If you do, you’ll have to water so much you won’t have time to enjoy your super green lawn. Only do small, manageable, bare patches of seeding.
• Keep the lawn mowed as high as you can tolerate. Never let that mower dip below 3 inches. The higher the lawn is, the less chance of burnout in the summer heat.
• You are either all in or all out. Meaning if you’re going to water in the summer months, commit to it. No piddly amounts of water will do. If you are only going to give your lawn shot glasses full of water, then do not bother at all. Just let it go dormant and take a little summer rest.
If at least a month has passed, since your last lawn fertilization, it’s time to get out there and do it again. Here’s the good news, there are many choices to fit your lawn’s needs.
• If your lawn is just looking a little tired, not quite as green, and not overrun with weeds, you could stick to fertilizer. Not just any ordinary fertilizer, but one that contains iron. Iron is great when applied in the month of June. It adds strength, vigor, and deep green color to our lawns, making them look better through the hot summer months ahead. Grab yourself a bag of Summer Revitalizer by Espoma or Milorganite.
• If you recently fertilized your lawn within the last four weeks but you still want that nice green color that iron gives you, then you can apply Fast Acting Iron by Earth Sciences. Talk about green!
• If your lawn is crying out for the nice green color iron adds to it, but still has quite a few weeds popping up, then the perfect combination would be one of the above fertilizers with a bottle of liquid weed control. You can choose a synthetic, such as Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra plus Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer, or a natural, such as Weed Beater Fe. You’ll get a wider range of weed control with this synthetic choice but it is nice to know that a natural choice exists.
• Don’t forget the grub control this month. The new, hungry batch of grubs have not hatched yet but they will be soon and you want to be prepared. It is time to put down Grub Ex. Be sure to water it in or put it down before a rainfall to be most effective. If natural is the way for you, then you can put down Milky Spore to help keep those damaging critters at bay.
• If inevitably, each summer, your lawn is plagued with the summertime disease, now is the time to be proactive and put Bonide‘s Infuse Fungicide down. Be sure to water in and you may even consider a second application in 10 days.
Summer is on its way and this is the time we will want to enjoy our lawns the most. Give them a June boost now for the best summer lawn ahead! Happy Gardening!
Thinking about making a raised bed for this season? Well, we’ve got the perfect recipe. A bucket of this, a bag of that, and voila, you have the perfect base to grow the most beautiful veggies. Getting the right recipe for the soil in your raised bed is as delicious as making the perfect stock for your chicken and veggie soup!
Depending on the size of your raised bed(s) and how many you will be serving, determine whether or not you will be buying your soil and compost ingredients mostly in bulk or in bags. Luckily, Van Wilgen’s offers both. It’s a one-stop shop for your recipe list!
RECIPE FOR BUYING IN BULK :
(Ideal for large raised beds or multiple raised beds)
•40% Topsoil in bulk
•40% Compost in bulk
Mix together as best you can. Do not leave in solid, unmixed layers. That leaves us with 20% more of that bed to fill. Here come the secret spices…
Fill remaining 20% of bed with equal portions of:
•Van Wilgen’s Organic Potting Soil (a perfect balance of nutrients and drainage)
•Garden Manure by Fafard (rich aged cow manure veggies love)
•Soilution by Sweet Peet (everything but the kitchen sink…Bio Char, Earthworm castings, Kelp, etc)
Mix all bags into the top 5 inches of bulk topsoil and compost blend.
RECIPE FOR BUYING IN BAGS:
(Serves 1 raised bed or small raised beds)
•40% Van Wilgens Topsoil (perfect base with great drainage)
•40% Van Wilgens Premium Planting Mix (nice blend of topsoil and compost)
Fill remaining 20% of bed with equal portions of:
•Van Wilgens Organic Potting Mix
•Garden Manure by Fafard
•Soilution by Sweet Peet
Sprinkle beds with Garden-Tone by Espoma (organic) or Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release (conventional).
Now that you have the perfectly blended base for your raised beds, time to add in veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and squash.
Water and enjoy!
Note: For precise calculations, use the calculator on our website.
Remember, approximately 27 bags of soil = 1 yard of bulk soil!
“Deer Daisy was here again. I caught Daisy and her friends leaping over the stone wall this morning after enjoying breakfast in my yard.” This is what my Poppy used to tell me all the time. He would act frustrated but secretly he enjoyed seeing them leap, white-tailed, one after the other at sunrise in the garden. As much as he got pleasure from Daisy’s morning shenanigans, he would have preferred if they did not feast on Meme’s favorite hydrangeas.
Poppy did not have all the deer repellents we now have available today. He tried all sorts of home remedies; mothballs, soap shavings, bags of human hair, and metal pie tins tied to stakes.
Maybe they helped for a few days but Daisy was soon back again with her gang to do some more plant damage. If only I knew then what I know now! I could have helped keep Daisy out of the garden and my Poppy could have enjoyed watching them forage in the neighbor’s yard. (tee hee)
Daisy and her herd were creatures of habit. They found a restaurant in my Poppy’s yard they loved to eat at and they went every day. They sometimes ordered different things off the menu and feasted on Meme’s rhododendrons instead of her hydrangeas. Deer are flexible and they will eat whatever is available, even if it is not part of their regular deer diet.
Most of you probably know this but I am going to pretend that I am telling you something groundbreaking. Here it is…since deer are creatures of habit, we need to stop their habit before it even starts. In other words, don’t let your yard become their favorite restaurant. Start applying repellents before the deer start their winter foraging. Deer are extra bold in the winter because their menu choices are limited. They no longer have green grasses and wildflowers to feed on so they need to turn to woody plants. This is when we start to see the damage to our trees and shrubs.
Poppy will be happy that I am protecting my Meme’s transplanted hydrangeas with effective deer repellents. The best deer repellents contain putrescent egg solids, garlic, peppers, oils, and dried blood. Delicious! The deer really do not like the smell or taste of these products and the dried blood tricks them into thinking there is a dangerous predator in the area. If applied to your most vulnerable plants before Daisy’s gang begins feeding this winter, you may not have any problem at all. That is a pretty big promise on my part. Maybe I should rephrase and say that you may have tolerable damage this winter. That’s better.
Here is another ground-breaking secret…use more than one product. I usually recommend a liquid product combined with a granular product. A delicious recipe for success is, Liquid Fence sprayed on the plants combined with granular Deer Scram sprinkled on the ground around the plants. Deer Scram can also be successfully combined with other liquid products such as Deer Stopper and Bobbex. Switch up the menu folks so deer don’t get too used to the repellents. Remember, just because one product worked last year, does not mean it will work again this year. Deer Stopper makes a very cool product called a Barrier Ribbon. This ribbon is 100 feet long and treated with repellent. If staked 30 inches high, this can be an excellent deterrent for deer even entering your yard.
Yes, “Deer Daisy” is beautiful but so is your yard and garden. Put up the “Restaurant is Closed for the Winter” sign on your yard before Daisy and her gang make this their regular eating spot.
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
The holiday season is here, which means decorating your home with lots of fresh greens including decorated Christmas trees, perfectly placed mantelpieces, fragrant evergreen garlands, and welcoming swags and wreaths on our front doors.
Unfortunately, we’ll also be looking at drying winter winds and scalding, reflective sun. We protect ourselves with puffy jackets, woolly socks, fleecy gloves, and cozy hats and scarves. As you walk out your door, all bundled up, look over at the beautiful evergreen trees and shrubs you planted this season. You may notice they’re all starting to get a bit cold and dry. You want them to stay healthy, don’t you? Similarly, when you go to decorate your home with live greens for the holidays, you want them to last all season, don’t you? Luckily, there’s a simple and easy solution…Wilt-Pruf! Wilt-Pruf is great at protecting live evergreens from winter weather but it is also perfect for keeping fresh-cut holiday greens looking beautiful.
Seriously, Wilt-Pruf is great. It’s an anti-transpirant or anti-desiccant. What this means is that it keeps your planted and cut evergreens from drying out. It works really well and is so easy to use. Even better, it is made locally in Essex, CT. Best yet, it never expires!
In the winter, evergreens, in particular, suffer from drying winds, frozen ground, and hot sun. Plants that hold their leaves (needles) suffer the worst. The ground is frozen, so the roots cannot take up the water the plant needs to keep the needles plump with moisture. The drying winds suck all the water right out of the needles and to add insult to injury, the sun comes out and bakes the already drying needles.
Wilt-Pruf is best applied starting around Thanksgiving for outside plants and any time for your cut greens. Coat your evergreen trees and shrubs, spray down your wreaths, door swags, mantelpieces, and kissing balls. Do the first coat before temperatures are consistently in the freezing zone. Then reapply when temperatures peak back up to the ’40s.
Get the most out of your holiday decorations from Van Wilgen’s and protect your precious, evergreen investments. It’s simple…Wilt-Pruf them.
Hint: To protect more than just your evergreens, try using Wilt-Pruf on Hydrangeas and Rose canes to get them through the harsh winter months.
As we head into the fall, and as temperatures start to drop, it means closing up those beautiful outdoor spaces we’ve spent all spring and summer creating. (Raise your hand if you’ve had your own staycation in your personal patio paradise.) One silver lining to this situation is that any houseplants which had been relocated outdoors (to perfect those tropical getaway vibes) will soon need to come back in. If you tend to collect houseplants like a lot of us here do, that means the inside of your home is about to get a LOT cozier with houseplants. You still have a little time, but once the temperature starts to drop into the 50’s you’re going to want to start transitioning your leafy friends indoors. To keep your plants happy, we’ve compiled a few easy tips you can follow when bringing them inside.
Before you bring any plants in, spray them down from top to bottom with horticultural oil or Neem oil to suffocate stowaway insects (and their eggs) including mealybug, scale, and aphids.
You’ll also want to treat the soil for fungus gnats which won’t harm the plant but can be a huge nuisance to people. Punch holes in the soil with a pencil and sprinkle Mosquito Bits on top of the soil to stop them in their tracks! You can also use Sticky Stakes to catch some of the adults and stop them from mating. If Mosquito Bits don’t work, you can apply Diatomaceous Earth in the same way to get rid of other soil-dwelling critters from mealybugs to ants to sow bugs.
Give all your plants an appropriate fertilizer as a last hoorah for the season. Just remember most houseplants can take a little break from fertilizer through the coldest winter months, so you won’t need to fertilize again until the spring.
If possible, bring plants in slowly over a week’s time. If the pot isn’t too heavy for you to move around, bring your houseplants in during the cold nights and back out during the day. Once daytime temperatures reach 50 degrees, bring them in full time. If one of your houseplants is used to the full sun, slowly get them used to a little shade before bringing them right inside. The light inside is quite different from the sun outside. In other words, don’t shock your houseplants!
Wash Your Windows
Do a little fall cleaning and clean up the dirt and dust on your windows. In this case, a little dirt can hurt. For those houseplants that need a brightly lit space, like succulents, you would be surprised how dusty windows can really reduce sunlight inside.
There are some plants that are really fond of lots of moisture and sometimes they need a little extra care. For plants such as Easter lily and Gardenia, place a saucer filled with pebbles and water underneath the pot so they can soak up the evaporating water.
Too much water is a common cause of the demise of houseplants, so water on the side of caution. For most plants, allow the soil to dry out a little bit before watering it all the way through again. ZZ, Ponytail Palms, and Begonias would greatly benefit from this practice.
Now is the time of year where those pesky insects are showing up to ruin all your hard work in the garden. This year both aphids and scale are especially tenacious. But not to worry! With the right product, you can stop unwanted bugs in their tracks!
Aphids, aphids everywhere! From black to orange to green to gray. Aphids are very commonly seen feeding on the new, beautiful growth of many plants, from climbing honeysuckle to roses to boxwood and peppers. They don’t discriminate and cause twisted-looking leaves, buds that don’t open, and plants that look generally unhappy. The good news is that with the right products they are easy to eliminate:
-Bayer Rose & Flower Insect Killer
-Eight by BonideOrganic
-All Seasons Horticultural Oil by Bonide
-Neem by Bonide
-End All by Safer
Scale is a sneaky, almost undetectable insect unless you know what to look for. They can be found on indoor and outdoor plants such as Citrus, Holly, Pachysandra, and more. It is usually flat in appearance and sometimes cottony and white. They hide out typically on the underside of leaves making discovery even more difficult until they reveal themselves by noticeable leaf drop, sticky leaves or floors, and black Sooty Mold.
Scale is best eliminated by either:
-All Seasons Horticultural Oil by Bonide or
Just remember, it’s important to spray the top sides of the leaves, the undersides of the leaves, and stems. Thoroughly coat all parts of the plant. Allow one week and reapply. Then one week after that you can apply a third time for good measure!
You’ve probably seen it: Nature’s Yellow Flag.
When the yellow Forsythia bush blooms you’ve been given the best indicator that it’s time to get out and get working in the yard. The soil temperature is now warm enough that things are actively starting to grow.
The blooming of the yellow forsythia can vary from town to town, but if you see it starting to bloom in your neighborhood, it’s time for you to do your first really good lawn application of fertilizer and crabgrass control. Crabgrass control, in particular, has to be well-timed, so this sign from nature is helpful.
At Van Wilgen’s, we offer both a synthetic and an organic choice – GreenView Crabgrass Control Plus Lawn Food and Espoma Organic Weed Preventer, respectively. Try to apply this application a little before it rains or instead you can water it in for best results.
This is also a good time to put down Preen – a granular weed control for flower gardens that can be put around your plants. This product will suppress weed germination and keep them under control a bit more.
Ideally, when your plants are three inches up above the ground is a good time to mulch and put Preen on top of the mulch. If you’re not mulching, put Preen right on the soil. The sooner you get a jump on weeds the better off you’ll be. Those weeds are busy germinating so don’t delay.
For people who are focusing this season, not on weed control but on seeding the lawn, the blooming yellow Forsythia is also a sign that it is warm enough for grass seed to germinate.
We do a lot with lawns here at Van Wilgen’s and offer our own custom Van Wilgen’s grass seed, which is locally sourced in small batches. The ideal course of action to grow the best lawn is to put down Van Wilgen’s grass seed, starter fertilizer, and then put down a straw cover.
Although the window is a bit forgiving, the few-week period when Nature’s Yellow Flag is in bloom – roughly a solid three weeks – is the best window to get started. Seeding can continue long afterward, but crabgrass pre-emergent is best to get down from when the yellow forsythia blooms to when the lilac blooms.
The yellow Forsythia will wave that yellow flag for several weeks, giving you plenty of time to get outside, get some fresh air, and get started!
T’WAS THE LAST TIP BEFORE CHRISTMAS, WHEN ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE,
SOME CREATURES WERE STIRRING (MAYBE A MOUSE?)
THE FRUIT FLY TRAPS WERE SET BY THE FRUIT BOWL WITH CARE,
IN HOPES THAT THE FRUIT FLIES SOON WOULDN’T BE THERE.
THE MOUSE BAIT WAS PLACED, JUST STRATEGICALLY SO,
TO ENSURE THE MICE NESTING ALL WOULD GO,
WE WANT THEM ALL TO HEAD BACK OUT INTO THE SNOW!
HOUSEPLANTS WERE ALL NESTLED INTO BED
WITH ALL SEASONS OIL TREATMENT (NO SCALE OR MEALYBUGS TO DREAD!)
WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, IN THE CUPBOARD I HEAR A FLITTER FLATTER
AND I WITH MY PANTRY PEST TRAP SPRANG TO THE KITCHEN TO SEE WHAT WAS THE MATTER
WHAT WAS THAT RUSTLING OUT IN THE SNOW
IT WAS THOSE DEER EATING MY ARBORVITAE
THAT’S WHY THEY NEVER GROW!
OUT THE DOOR, I FLEW LIKE A FLASH
TO QUICKLY APPLY MY DEER SCRAM IN A DASH
THE MOON ON THE BREAST OF THE NEW-FALLEN SNOW,
GAVE THE LUSTER OF TUNNELS FROM MOLES AND VOLES BELOW
WITH A LITTLE RED BAG OF MOLE & VOLE REPELLENT I RAN
TO APPLY THAT MINTY SMELL THAT CRITTERS CAN’T STAND
AND THEN WITH A HAMMERING, I HEARD ON THE ROOF,
A WOODPECKER USING HIS BEAK LIKE A TOOTH
TO GET MY REFLECTOR TAPE, I TURNED AROUND
AND UP THE LADDER, I WENT WITH A BOUND
NOW, WHAT WAS THAT AGAIN, THOSE PESKY OLD DEER
“NOW ELAINE, NOW DARLENE, NOW RYAN, BILL, WILL, AND JASON!
TO THE EDGE OF THE GARDEN! TO OVER THE STONE WALL!
NOW DASH AWAY! DASH AWAY! DASH AWAY ALL!
TWAS A GREAT 2019 WITH ALL OF MY FELLOW EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS
WE CAME UP WITH MANY SOLUTIONS AND DID LOTS OF WORK,
TOOK LOTS OF BUG SAMPLES (THEY REALLY ARE SUCK JERKS!)
YOU PICKED UP LOTS, FROM FERTILIZER TO PRUNERS, TO MAYBE EVEN A HOSE
DON’T FORGET TO PLEASE JOIN US NEXT YEAR (TO PICK OUT THAT PERFECT ROSE)
FOR NOW, I SPRING TO MY LITTLE RED ELEMENT AND TO MY VAN WILGEN’S TEAM GIVE A WHISTLE
AS I DRIVE OUT OF SIGHT, THEY’RE SO RELIEVED THEY DODGED A KISS UNDER THE MISTLE (TOE)
BUT THEY HEARD ME EXCLAIM, AS I DROVE OUT OF SIGHT,
“MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!”