Satomi Dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Satomi’)

‘Satomi’ Dogwood is a pink-flowered variety of the Korean Dogwood.

This slow growing deciduous tree has a rounded form with beautiful horizontal branching. Deep pink bracts surround inconspicuous flowers and emerge in late spring, often later than other dogwood varieties and are followed by large red fruit. Fall color is orange-red. The deep green leaves often have a purplish tinge and are resistant to anthracnose.

Dirt on  Hand

How to Collect a Soil Sample

A soil sample can help you best determine if your soils are deficient or in excess of several essential nutrients. With that knowledge you can determine if any fertilization is necessary and exactly what you need to apply. This helps over fertilizing, one of the largest causes of water pollution. Soil samples can be used to tell if the soil is unfit for planting, due to the presence of contaminants.

Representative Sample

A soil sample must represent the area being sampled. Using a soil probe, spade or trowel, collect 10-12 samples in a random or zigzag pattern. If soil texture or sites have been treated differently (i.e. on area has been fertilized) collect a separate sample.

Sampling Depth

Depth varies according to the crop. Turfgrass samples should be taken to a depth of 3 inches; others to a depth of 6-8 inches. Discard plant material, thatch and stones. Do not sample areas that have been treated with fertilizer or lime within the last 4 weeks.


Collect Cores or slices in a clean plastic bucket and mix well. (Do not use a metal bucket) Transfer 1 to 2 cups of soil to labeled soil bags. Two cups of soil is required for nutrient and texture analysis.

Bag & Label

An approved soil sample bag must be used, most labs provide pre-printed bags. Be sure to completely fill out the entire label including city and state. Be sure to label plant and turf species on the label as well. Place soil bag in a zippered plastic bag to prevent soil spillage in transport.

Frequency of Sampling

A soil nutrient analysis should be performed on sites every 3 to 4 years or more frequently where plants are in poor health.


Soil samples do not degrade and can be sent via mail. No need to overnight the sample.

Soil Tests Vary

Sample analysis can vary from one lab to another. Here are a few examples

  • Basic soil nutrients: pH, organic matter, P, K, Ca, Mg, CEC
  • Basic + Micronutrients: Basic information plus Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu
  • Complete: Basic and micronutrients plus Nitrate N, Na, S, B, and soluble salts
  • Soluble salts (conductivity)
  • Soil Texture – % sand, silt, and clay

Special Tests

Most agriculture soil testing facilities do not routinely test for heavy metals, herbicides or other soil contaminants. Those test are specialized and can be expensive. If you suspect there could be contamination issues I would recommend asking for the special testing to be done.
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Pruning Hibiscus

When to Prune Hibiscus
Hibiscus pruning generally occurs during spring. Hibiscus plants can be lightly pruned in late summer or early fall, take caution to not prune hibiscus in late fall or winter. Late season pruning will affect the amount of new growth, hibiscus bloom on new wood this late pruning will limit blossoms the following spring. Spring should be the only time for complete rejuvenation pruning. Pruning hibiscus plants entirely in the growing season helps promote summer blooming. Branch tips can be pinched, or tip pruned, throughout the season to encourage a more dense growth habit.

Hibiscus Pruning, How To:
Before pruning hibiscus, make sure your pruning shears are sharp and clean. When pruning hibiscus plants, they should be pruned to about a third of their size, leaving at least two to three nodes on the branches for emergence f new growth and subsequent flower blossoms. These cuts should be made just above the nodes, leaving about a quarter inch. Remove any weak, diseased, or dead growth, as well as crossing or leggy branches. To improve overall airflow with in the canopy, branches that are growing toward the center of the plant should also be removed.

Green Giant Arborvitae

The Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja standishii x plicata) is a fast growing evergreen tree. At maturity this narrow, pyramidal growing conifer will reach 40-50 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide. Often utilized as a screening tree, to block unwanted views, dampen sound and serve as a windbreak. Green Giant Arborvitae is widely adaptable to varying soil types, performs best in well drained locations. Plant in full sun to part shade, avoid planting near or under utility lines.

Hardy in zones 4-8 the Green Giant Arborvitae has rapidly become a viable substitution for the Leyland Cypress, which has been used in similar situations but has more susceptibility to disease. Once the root system becomes established in the first growing season rapid growth will be the result in subsequent seasons. In some cases you can expect 24″ inches of growth in a single season and in some cases even more. Deer resistant.

Green Giant is propagated by cuttings with relative ease, and is regularly available in the nursery trade. Follow recommended planting instructions to ensure the success of your new planting.

Purchase a Green Giant Arborvitae from Nature Hills Nursery.

Muscadine Grape

The Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) is a species native to the southeast region of the United States. Muscadines have been under cultivation for hundreds of years. Being native to the southeast they are adapted to warm and rather humid climates, making them ideal for planting where the climate does not produce favorable chilling hours required by other varieties of grape. Hardy in zones 5-9 they perform best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Of their notable characteristics is the tough outer skin which ripen in a wide range of colors: bronze to black and even purple. A rather versatile variety of grape it is grown to produce wine, juice, jellies and even eaten fresh.

There are hundreds of muscacdine grape cultivars, all requiring a pollenizer in order to set fruit. Muscadines grow best in fertile sandy loam and alluvial soils. Rather resistant to pests and diseases, including Pierce’s disease, which is a major contributor to the death of many grape species.
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Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Commonly known as the Blanket Flower, Gaillardia x grandiflora is a great summer blooming perennial border plant. Gaillardia will suffer in heavy clay soils, plant in well-drained sunny locations. Gaillardia flowers continuously with out the need to dead head.

Susceptible to leaf spot, powdery mildew and leafhoppers to minor degrees. Growing 2-3′ tall this perennial has an impressive 3-4″ flower head and is hardy in Zones 3-10. A great choice for areas that have high summer temps and dry soils.

A few notable cultivars:

  • ‘Baby Cole’ – Dwarf. Less than 8″. Red flowers with yellow margins.
  • ‘Burgundy’ – Large 24-30″. Burgundy red flowers.
  • ‘Dazzler’ – 24-36″, Yellow flowers with maroon centers.
  • ‘Kobold’ – also referred to as ‘Goblin’. 9-12″. Red flowers with yellow margins.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-21

Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening

My first exposure to vegetable gardening was by my parents. While living in the Delta region of Mississippi, in my early teens, my parents grew a rather large garden. As memory serves me the garden seemed to spontaneously produce vegetables without much effort. The soil was rich and the sun plentiful. I remember working side by side with my dad and enjoying the produce as prepared by my mother. Looking back now, I am sure that garden helped spark my interest in plants.

Today I live in a suburb of Seattle and have a garden of my own. Comprised mostly of raised beds and containers I enjoy the harvest as much as the planting and maintenance. My raised beds are made from 2″ x 10″ untreated boards and are 4′ x 8′ in size. This year with help from my brother we built and installed six more beds. I have chosen to garden in raised beds for a number of reasons. Raised beds can provide higher yields, better soil conditions, less labor and even a better approach to pest control.

Better Yields

Traditional in ground gardening on the home scale level can produce on average 0.5 pounds yield per square foot. Research has shown that raised bed gardening yields on average 1.25 pounds per square foot, more than double the conventional method. Most of my experience in raised bed gardening has proved that research to be accurate.

Plants are planted closer together in the raised bed situation. Elimination of pathways allows for rows to be placed closer together, additionally plants growing closer together will help shade the soil surface and reduce competition of weeds adding to the plants ability to achieve a higher yield. Avoid the temptation to over plant as that will reduce the plants ability to produce a good yield. Continue reading