Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Hurry up spring! Photo courtesy SCC
Well spring is within reach, and all the weather forecasters and meteorologists are giving their famous “Long Range” forecasts for the coming months. I thought; why not go out on a limb and just talk a little about what we are doing here in the grounds department, some things coming up, and what we see for the future. So here it is, my heavily opinionated Long Range Grounds Forecast for SCC 2012!
We are currently up to our eyeballs in mulch. Mulch is a great aesthetic addition to the winter landscape. It also helps reduce weeds and help with moisture control in some soils. We start early in the winter because we have over two thousand trees and shrubs to mulch! Our yards may be a one or two day project, but here at SCC it takes quite a bit more time and planning. We also have a lot of pests your yard should be void of, like a haphazard weed-eater, students swinging from your trees, and even more unimaginable challenges that we face here at SCC. Mulch helps as a natural barrier to some of those… challenges. We are using sustainable mulch again from Missouri Mulch, which derives their products from the wine barrel making industry.
I really think mulch, and any weed preventative, is going to be helpful this year. I think the warming temperatures are going to give us a headache when it comes to weeds this year. Heck, we have had weeds growing in some of our flower beds all winter! I know everyone is concerned about insects this year, but I think a couple of cold snaps in March are really going to help us out. I am more worried that with the increase of insects this year is really going to have an effect on us next year, because of the higher breeding populations this year. Also, keep in mind, many of the invasive species, such as Japanese beetles, originate from a place that is used to cold winters, so winter does very little to control populations in most insect species.
Soon we will be preparing turf for its green up. Over seeding, fertilizing, weed control, and the like. We are expecting some below average temperatures in March, so we are not moving our seeding time window around, but we are going to try and have our entire seed down prior to Easter. This may be a little early for someone with a small yard, but we need the last three weeks in April to start working on our perennials and flower beds.
The warm weather is good news for our athletic teams. They often have a hard time with the challenges of winter, but it looks like the weather may be on their side this season and have few games rescheduled. It looks like they have quite a few games this year, and Soccer Season is also just around the corner. The athletic fields are a real challenge to our department this year considering how much work it takes to maintain those particular assets, especially with rising costs for supplies and materials. We are also seeing an increase in home games and outside events, but we are lucky to have some very skilled groundskeepers here at SCC that can take on the challenge and keep the athletic fields in great playing condition.
There is so much to talk about, and get excited about in the coming spring I am going to divide this Blog post into two parts. Of course I saved the best stuff for part two, some green and sustainable projects, and some flowers and trees! There are a lot of special things about this coming season and some challenges we face here in the SCC Grounds Department, as well as in the green industry itself. Until then, thanks for reading, and stay rooted!
Posted by Dan Porter at 11:25 AM
Monday, February 13, 2012
Dumb Cane Dieffenbachia seguine. Detail leaves. © Dan Porter
I don't care if that pesky groundhog saw its shadow, I am ready for spring! Spring is my favorite time to go on the hunt for flowering trees, take some photos, and learn new things about those trees, or discover new plants or animals I never knew existed before. Winter is full of discoveries as well, but the darn cold just makes it such a brisk task some times.
So today I discovered a few thriving specimens... indoors! Lately I have been getting a lot of e-mails and phone calls about house plants. "What kind of plant is this?" or "What is wrong with my plant?" To be honest I know very little about house plants, so in normal Dan fashion, I scoured the corners of the Internet, I flipped through books at the library, I went head first into the wonderful world of houseplants, and let me tell you, it is almost as expansive as the outdoor profession.
Then it hit me, I usually do a "Tree of the Month" Blog through the warmer months, why not do a "House Plant of the Month Blog!" So I went out on campus to find specimens, camera in hand. To my surprise I have found many plants around campus, so I have a lot of research to do! I hope I can take what I learn, and discuss it here so we can enjoy the journey and conversation together.
One great specimen I found was this Dumb Cane, or Dieffenbachia seguine. This particular specimen was in a medium light location with little foot traffic, but seemed to be very healthy. Although I think the owner talks to this plant a little more often than most people would have time for. Yes, that is right, there have been studies on plant growth and sound pollution! Books have even been written how rock music makes plants unhealthy!
Dumb Cane Dieffenbachia seguine.
Dumb Cane is native to South America, so it wouldn't tolerate our Missouri Winters, but does well indoors. They prefer to dry out a little between watering, and will benefit from a little humidity as well, although not entirely dependent upon it. These plants can reach upwards of ten feet tall and almost as wide, so give them plenty of room. They typically grow pretty slow, and every specimen I have seen thus far is in the three to six foot range.
Another point to keep in mind is this plant is slightly toxic. It has been known to cause skin irritation and should not be kept where small children or pets may ingest this plant. I have not found much or witnessed any insect or disease issues as of yet, but like all house plants, they could benefit from a shower from time to time, as the leaves collect dust. Many houseplants are native to rain forest conditions and are used to shallow roots and rain, so a bath every so often will make them... "happy."
Stay rooted, there are many indoor specimens around campus to explore! Let me know if you see any beautiful specimens around campus to discover.
Posted by Dan Porter at 11:56 AM