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Atchison County

Lawn and Garden

The Atchison County K-State Research and Extension office is your front door to the resources of Kansas State University. Through our office you can obtain information on trees, turf, shrubs, insects, gardens, and other related topics.

We also provide services such as insect identification, plant identification, and soil tests with fertilizer recommendations.

Lawn and Garden picture


tomato cage
Tomato cages sold for home gardeners are often too wimpy for Kansas conditions. Fortunately, you can make your own cages from concrete reinforcing mesh (wire). This material is normally 5' high with the “mesh” forming 6" squares. The shortest rolls are usually 50' long, but some lumber yards will cut off just the amount you need.  Cages can be made in different sizes but I like a 2 foot diameter cage so I can space my tomatoes at 2 feet and then use a T-post to in between each pair to stabilize them in the wind.  Figure 6.5 feet of mesh to complete one cage that is 2 feet in diameter. You will need to cut the mesh in order to make the cages. Small bolt cutters work well for this. Be careful when cutting as the mesh comes in rolls that will spring back into a cylinder as the last cut is made. 

Count off 13 squares but cut each horizontal wire at the end of the 13 square. This will leave a series of 12 complete squares horizontally with prongs left on the 13th square. Use these prongs to make a cylinder by bending the prongs over the vertical wire on the first square. Tomatoes with large, rangy vines need all five feet of the mesh, but those with shorter, semi-determinate vines can get by with a shorter cage. 

Also, cut off the bottom horizontal wire to leave prongs that can be pushed into the ground to help with stability. As mentioned above, a T-post will likely need to be driven near the cage. Tying the cage to the T-post can help prevent the cage from toppling in windy conditions. 

These cages will last for years, but do take up a great deal of storage space when not in use.  If you don’t have room for storage, there are heavy-duty  tomato cages that will either fold flat or disassemble to make storage easier such as Texas Tomato Cages, Titan Tomato Cages and various others.  Regardless, they may need to be staked if your garden is in a windy location. (Ward Upham)

Video of the Week: Planting a Garden


fertilizing Lawn

June is the time to fertilize warm-season lawn grasses such as bermudagrass, buffalograss, and zoysiagrass. These species all thrive in warmer summer weather, so this is the time they respond best to fertilization. The most important nutrient is nitrogen (N), and these three species need it in varying amounts.

Bermudagrass requires the most nitrogen. High-quality bermuda stands need about 4 lbs. nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. during the season (low maintenance areas can get by on 2 lbs.). Apply this as four separate applications, about 4 weeks apart, of 1 lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. starting in early May. It is already too late for the May application, but the June application is just around the corner. The nitrogen can come from either a quick- or slow-release source. So any lawn fertilizer will work. Plan the last application for no later than August 15. This helps ensure the bermudagrass is not overstimulated, making it susceptible to winter-kill. 

Zoysiagrass grows more slowly than bermudagrass and is prone to develop thatch. 
Consequently, it does not need as much nitrogen. In fact, too much is worse than too little. One and one-half to 2 pounds N per 1,000 sq. ft. during the season is sufficient. Split the total in two and apply once in early June and again around mid-July. Slow-release nitrogen is preferable but quick-release is acceptable. Slow-release nitrogen is sometimes listed as “slowly available” or “water insoluble.”

Buffalograss requires the least nitrogen of all lawn species commonly grown in Kansas. It will survive and persist with no supplemental nitrogen, but giving it one lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. will improve color and density. This application should be made in early June. For a little darker color, fertilize it as described for zoysiagrass in the previous paragraph, but do not apply more than a total of 2 lb. N per 1,000 sq. ft. in one season.  As with zoysia, slow-release nitrogen is preferable, but fast-release is also OK. As for all turfgrasses, phosphorus and potassium are best applied according to soil test results because many soils already have adequate amounts of these nutrients for turfgrass growth. If you need to apply phosphorus or potassium, it is best to core aerate beforehand to ensure the nutrients reach the roots. (Ward Upham)