Master Gardeners can advise at Smithfield market

Published 1:57 pm Monday, August 5, 2019

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By Mark C. Carroll

On the warm, sunny Saturday morning of July 27, three Master Gardeners hosted a plant clinic to answer gardening questions. Each visit we have a theme and for July, water was selected. More specifically, how much water do your plants need, is water quality important, and how can I test my water? Despite a good plan, we hardly spoke about water, as it is more important to discuss solutions to your gardening challenges. So, here are some of the topics we did discuss:

  • A homeowner had an issue with his Japanese Maple losing its leaves. This seemed like a strange time of the year for these trees to lose their leaves, but further discussion revealed that it is planted in a container. With an abnormally dry summer it was suggested that it may require more watering in a container than it would in the ground. Also, we suggested that it might be time to consider planting the tree in the soil directly, where it can access water more regularly.
  • A young lady mentioned that the grass that used to grow under a tree in her front yard died when she decided not to rake the leaves up one fall. Despite subsequent raking and lawn maintenance, she has not been able to get the grass to grow back. She even had some fill dirt delivered in the hopes that the grass would get a fresh start. We suggested she start with a soil test. Adding soil from an external location and fill dirt in particular, can really be a difficult challenge because you don’t really know what you are dealing with or where it came from. We explained how to collect the soil sample and that when filling out the form she should state specifically what (and what type) of plant she wants to grow and the sample will be returned with specific recommendations for growing that plant, in this case grass.
  • One visitor was curious about how to properly prune or remove branches from a tree that may be shading a neighbor’s tree. We discussed the 3-cut method and why it is important to get the weight off the limb before making the final cut.
  • We also discussed upcoming training opportunities and since I previously did a whole article on that I will just say, for more information contact us via the WTMG group on Facebook or contact the extension office for more information.

Our next Plant Clinic at the Farmer’s Market will be Aug. 31, since we did not talk enough about water, we plan to hold that theme over until then. Ultimately, you decide what we discuss based on your questions and we always enjoy, helping your thumb grow greener.

MARK C. CARROLL is a Western Tidewater Master Gardener.