Earl May manager talks about container gardening to Noon Kiwanis

Marshalltown “Noon” Kiwanis Club president Linda Dodd Smith called the Tuesday, April 30th meeting at the American Legion to order. Those present stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Harold Cline offered the invocation.

Dorothy Rider introduced her daughter, Pat Jordan, as a guest. Deane Adams gave a happy dollar on his trip to Washington, D.C. and said the best news he could bring back to Marshall County was the congress is working together.

In club business Deb Ewoldt reported that the club will be sending two students from West Marshall School District Camp Olympia-Kiwanis. The Noon’s third campership will be for a Marshalltown student at Lenihan and the Matins Kiwanis will offer two more. The PM Kiwanis is sending three students from GMG. Matins Kiwanian Don Feld will transport all eight students to and from camp in his motor home.

Several businesses have agreed to locate Red Barrels at their stores to serve as drop off locations for non-perishable food and personal care items for the area’s needy. Recipients will be the Emergency Food Box, The Salvation Army, and House of Compassion. Members of the Noon, Matins, and PM Kiwanis Clubs; MHS Key Club; and Bobcat Aktion Club will oversee the barrels and deliver the products collected. Barrels are being secured, painted, and labeled in preparation for this new project.

Smith noted that the Kiwanis Club has a long history of spring gardening programs, once featuring ISU horticulturalist Mohammad Khan until his retirement, and then followed by club member and former ISU extension director Gene Neven. Because Neven was unable to attend the meeting he asked Lynn Rhodes, manager at Earl May Garden Center and Nursery to come and talk about container gardening.

Rhodes began her talk with the esthetics and balance used for container gardens, which have enjoyed increasing popularity each year. Containers were often used for indoor and outdoor decorating purposes and the rule of thumb was to coordinate the plant materials with the container through color, size, and texture. The template for floral designs is the geranium with the spike and alyssum. The two or three geranium plants comprise the mounding element, typically called the “wow” factor. The spike represents the vertical element which is two to three times the height of the container and can be placed off center if desired. The alyssum is the trailing or filler element. For Rhodes the trailing plant is her favorite part of the garden. Once you have those elements in place, you just need to tweek or adjust it.

Wave petunias can act as either a mound or trailing element and more varieties are available this year. One self-deadheads its old blooms and doesn’t straggle as other petunias often do. There are new colors, even uprights, and weather resistant versions.

Floral arrangements aren’t the only items benefiting from pots. Right now at Earl May there are 4×4-ft. pots with palm trees on display. These must still be placed inside during colder weather, but can acclimate to living inside. Rhodes warned that the plant needs to be hardened off when one reintroduces it to the outside. At the other end of the container gardening spectrum are fairy gardens in a bowl, similar to terrariums.

Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are also being included in the container gardening craze because of the ease of growing. Issues with moles and deer are alleviated with container and raised gardens. One quick favorite is to place a tomato plant in a five-gallon container or even a bucket. Two container products are seeing interest by gardeners. Potato tubes help get the potatoes planted on Good Friday whether the ground is ready or not and Verti-Plant bags also allow for walls to be adorned with plants.

The patio/dwarf tomato is now available in an heirloom plant grafted onto a hybrid root. Another idea is using dwarf fruit bushes like the brazelberry. Rhodes enjoys visiting the Iowa Veterans Home raised gardens and seeing the varieties and ideas with which they come up.

The garden manager also noted the importance of good fertilizer soil plus giving a diluted fertilizer with each watering for container plants. She handed out an Earl May Garden flyer to those in attendance and noted that anyone interesting in receiving this once a year only mailing can come to the store and fill out a form.

Smith ended the meeting with a report of the Underprivileged Children’s (UPC) Fund collection for the day and a quote by Steve Brown “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly—until you learn to do it well.” Check out the entire Marshalltown Kiwanis family of clubs at www.marshalltownkiwanis.org, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter.


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