Monthly Archives: November 2017

Preparing Healthy Soil

If you’re getting ready to go on a new garden venture, you need to prepare
your soil to ideally house your plants. The best thing you can do in the
soil preparation process is to reach the perfect mixture of sand, silt,
and clay. Preferably there would be 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and
20 percent clay. There are several tests used by experienced gardeners to
tell whether the soil has a good composition. First you can compress it in
your hand. If it doesn’t hold its shape and crumbles without any outside
force, your sand ratio is probably a little high. If you poke the
compressed ball with your finger and it doesn’t fall apart easily, your
soil contains too much clay.

If you’re still not sure about the content of your soil, you can separate
each ingredient by using this simple method. Put a cup or two of dirt into
a jar of water. Shake the water up until the soil is suspended, then let
it set until you see it separate into 3 separate layers. The top layer is
clay, the next is silt, and on the bottom is sand. You should be able to
judge the presence of each component within your dirt, and act accordingly.

After you’ve analyzed the content of your soil, if you decide that it is
low on a certain ingredient then you should definitely do something to fix
it. If dealing with too much silt or sand, it’s best to add some peat moss
or compost. If you’ve got too much clay, add a mixture of peat moss and
sand. The peat moss, when moistens, helps for the new ingredient to
infiltrate the mixture better. If you can’t seem to manage to attain a
proper mixture, just head down to your local gardening store. You should
be able to find some kind of product to aid you.

The water content of the soil is another important thing to consider when
preparing for your garden. If your garden is at the bottom of an incline,
it is most likely going to absorb too much water and drown out the plants.
If this is the case, you should probably elevate your garden a few inches
(4 or 5) over the rest of the ground. This will allow for more drainage
and less saturation.

Adding nutrients to your soil is also a vital part of the process, as most
urban soils have little to no nutrients already in them naturally. One to
two weeks prior to planting, you should add a good amount of fertilizer to
your garden. Mix it in really well and let it sit for a while. Once you
have done this, your soil will be completely ready for whatever seeds you
may plant in it.

Once your seeds are planted, you still want to pay attention to the soil.
The first few weeks, the seeds are desperately using up all the nutrients
around them to sprout into a real plant. If they run out of food, how are
they supposed to grow? About a week after planting, you should add the
same amount of fertilizer that you added before. After this you should
continue to use fertilizer, but not as often. If you add a tiny bit every
couple of weeks, that should be plenty to keep your garden thriving.

Basically, the entire process of soil care can be compressed into just
several steps… ensure the makeup of the soil is satisfactory, make sure
you have proper drainage in your garden, add fertilizer before and after
planting, then add fertilizer regularly after that. Follow these simple
steps, and you’ll have a plethora of healthy plants in no time. And if you
need any more details on an individual step, just go to your local nursery
and enquire there. Most of the employees will be more than happy to give
you advice.

Preparing Your Garden fo the Winter

Some people believe that when the weather starts getting colder and the
leaves start to fall, it is time to put away the gardening tools and wait
until next spring to work on their garden again. Wrong. Winter is an
important time to maintain your garden’s health and assure yourself a good
crop for next year. You may think that might take to long to prepare your
garden, but the truth is that it takes less than one day to prepare your
garden for the upcoming winter.

When the nighttime temperatures drop to less than forty-five degrees
Fahrenheit for more than four days in a row, or frost is forecasted for
your area (usually around late October or November) you know its time to
begin preparing your garden. You should begin by evaluating your garden
design, check which plants grew well in the past season, and which plants
did not do well. Fall is a good time to decide which plants will remain in
you garden next year, and which ones should go.

It is also a good time to decide which new plants you want to grow. To
make your garden more colorful and healthy, be sure only to plant the more
hardy plants during the fall so that they can withstand the winter. Some
plants that will do fine being planted in fall are: rudbeckia, Aster
Novi-belgii, Anemone Japonica, panicle hyandea, endive, escarole, and
Brussels sprouts. You can find all of these and more in gardening
magazines or your local nursery.

After you have finished this you should begin cleaning up your garden.
Begin by pulling out weeds that may have cropped up, and raking fallen
leaves. Weeds and rotten leaves can carry insects and diseases that might
be harmful to your garden. You should also rid your garden of spent annual
plants, and harvest your vegetables and other plants that cannot withstand
the winter weather. After fall has come and gone, the leaves will be off
your trees and you can see the rotten branches. Trimming off the unwanted
branches from your trees isn’t necessary to your gardens health, but may
help later on by not dropping branches on your plants and not blocking too
much of the sun.

If you have younger trees you should consider wrapping them and supporting
them with stakes to help them survive the winter wind and cold. Putting
mulch over your garden for the winter can be a helpful way to protect
plants from sudden temperature changes and heavy snow. For mulch you can
use about five inches of shredded bark, pine needles, or a variety of
other materials. You have to be careful not to mulch too early, because
some insects may still be alive and able to take shelter in it for the
winter.

Once you are finished with your gardening tools you should clean them and
make sure they are in a safe place where they won’t rust and you know
where they’ll be for next year. Before winter comes you should always set
out slug repellent, as slugs are one of the worst bugs to have in your
garden. If you have a pool or fountain in your garden, be sure to take out
any fish that you have in them and bring them inside. There’s nothing
sadder than a fish frozen in a block of ice.

Using Xeriscaping to Save Time and Water

While having a full fledged garden is rewarding and enjoyable, lots of
people simply don’t have the time that is required to maintain it. Whether
you have too much going on at work or too many kids to take care of, you
should never try to operate a garden if you don’t think you can handle it.

For those people who are just too busy for a normal garden, I would
suggest a somewhat recent method of gardening known as Xeriscaping. This
minimal yet stylish theory first emerged in Colorado when water levels
were at an all time low. It is a great method of having a great looking
yard or garden, without having to maintain it or water it very often at
all.

Here in Colorado, many places are offering free Xeriscaping lessons in
order to encourage the conservation of water. If your area is undergoing a
drought, you should check with the water suppliers and see if they are
offering lessons. If you attend those, you will be able to get advice
specific to your region (IE types of plants to grow, how much to water
them, etc).

To some, the name Xeriscaping conjures the image of a yard that consists
of a giant rock bed. However, this is known as “zero scaping”, and it is a
considerably different concept. It focuses on reducing your yard to
nothing that requires any maintenance whatsoever. Unfortunately this is
usually just rocks. But this shouldn’t be your goal. While keeping
maintenance at a minimum, it is still possibly to retain a nice looking
yard that won’t attract the negative attention of everyone who passes by.

This might sound like it would be hard to implement without making your
yard into a hideous mess, but this is not so at all. The theory basically
involves choosing plants which are low maintenance to begin with, then
putting them each in environments that are ideal. It is usually applied by
figuring out what side of the house to place it on to get the best amount
of shade, and figuring out how to group it with plants with similar water
needs.

To get started in your Xeriscaping renovation, you first need to pick out
all the plants you will be using. They should for the most part require a
low amount of water. This doesn’t mean you can only grow cactuses in your
yard. Just cut back on the really thirsty plants that you have to water
every day to keep alive. You’ll want to stick with local plants for the
most part, and don’t go with anything too exotic as these generally
require larger amounts of water.

The second most important principle of xeriscaping is placing the plants
in ideal areas. If you place them all together with plants that require
essentially the same amount of water, then you will end up saving lots of
water. Also place the plants in areas where they will be protected from
wind or excessive sun, depending on the needs of the plants. Xeriscaping
is almost the same thing as microclimating, just with more of a focus on
adaptation to harsh conditions rather than avoiding them. So if it sounds
good to you and you’re looking to save time and water by renovating your
garden, you should look for xeriscaping lessons.