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Learn to make a wreath

November 15, 2008|By BOB KESSLER

A holiday door wreath adds a great touch to decorating your home. To make your own wreath, attend the two-part wreath workshop of the Penn State master gardeners of Franklin County on Monday, Dec. 1, and Wednesday, Dec. 3.

The wreath will be based on a straw frame. In the first session, participants will create the frame and go over ideas for decorating it. Participants will bring materials for completing the wreath to the second session and finish the project. The master gardeners will provide some material for participants to use.

Cost of the workshop is $25. The workshops will be 10 a.m. to noon on both days and will be held at the new Ag Heritage Building, 181 Franklin Farm Lane.

The Penn State Master Gardeners of Franklin County are holding a workshop to make a fresh holiday centerpiece from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6.

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Participants will create a holiday centerpiece using a variety of evergreens and other natural materials. We will provide the materials, but you should bring any personal things you would like to include and a pair of shears. The workshop cost is $20, which covers materials costs.

Class sizes for both workshops are limited, so register early by calling 717-263-9226.

Plant fall bulbs

If you brought some tulips or daffodils and you haven't planted them yet, you need to do so now. Each year we get calls from people who put them aside and think they can plant them in the spring. That won't work. The bulbs need a chilling period to break dormancy and they will use up a lot of their stored food trying to survive in your home.

If you have a good place to put them in your yard, get them into the ground as soon as possible. This will allow them to develop a root system before the ground freezes. Mulch over the bulbs to moderate the soil temperature, reduce the impact of freezing and thawing and get more root growth this fall.

Fall fertilizer

If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, the late fall fertilizer application is a very important one. It should be applied around Thanksgiving, when you no longer need to mow, yet the turf is still green. This timing can vary due to weather conditions.

Fall is when cool-season grasses recover from the stress of the summer drought and the disease we had this year.

The late-fall application also helps keep your turf green into early winter and speeds green-up in the spring. This eliminates the need for the early spring fertilizer application, which can sometimes encourage too much top growth.

Generally we recommend that homeowners use a turf-type fertilizer, which has slow-release nitrogen.

However, the late-fall application can be either soluble nitrogen or slow release.

If you use a fertilizer that is soluble nitrogen (which goes by the chemical name N), then use one and one-half pounds of N per 1,000 square feet. It is best to use a complete fertilizer that has phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) because these can benefit turf at this time of the year, too.

The best guideline to use to determine how much fertilizer you should apply is a soil test done every three years. Without a soil test, you can use a winterizing fertilizer or any other fertilizer that has a high N and K number.

Fertilizer is always sold as percentages of N-P-K, labeled 10-10-10 or 22-3-12 or whatever. If you buy a bag of fertilizer that weighs 30 pounds and it is a 22-3-12, what are you getting? Multiply 30 pounds by 22 percent (the N percentage) and you find the bag contains 7.2 pounds of N. Multiply 30 pounds by 3 percent (for phosphorus) and you see the bag contains .9 pounds of P. Twelve percent of 30 pounds shows that the bag contains 3.6 pounds of K.

If you apply 1.5 pounds of N per 1,000 square feet, then your 30-pound bag will cover slightly less than 5,000 square feet. Make sure you know how many square feet of turf you have.

Pick up your fertilizer soon, and when you know you mowed for the last time, go ahead and apply it.

Plants are good therapy

People love to go to parks and other places that are well landscapes and provide a calming place to walk and relax. Some people love to dig in the soil and plant the seeds, bulbs or transplants and then watch things develop. Others they need to have plants in their house or apartment, so they have something green and growing around them.

The Penn State Master Gardeners in Franklin County provide all types of classes throughout the year for people who want to grow plants. The group has also created a wildlife area on Franklin Farm Lane that anyone can visit and walk through to enjoy the variety of local wildlife.

We have also created a garden many years ago at the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; so that residents can get outside in a garden if they are able. It is also visible from their dining room.

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