This is the time of year when we have the opportunity to go outside and do some things we enjoy. As a reminder for us who garden we need to have already fertilized, trimmed, and prepared for spring. Here is a list of the things I do for my garden and container plants.
To do or not in a garden:
-Breakup (till) the ground unless hard land planting. I have tried to work hard earth before and I have had very little luck. However, when I breakup the ground it makes it much easier to work with.
-Add lime if needed. The best way to know if you need lime is to use a ph tester (if you do not have one now would the time to invest in one) it help you determine whether or not there is too much acid in your soil.
-Remove any items that will increase acid level in soil. Examples include new cuttings from any plant, leaves, and pine needles. Essentially, if you test the earth where you are planting you will know which way to go.
-Buy, make, or cut some stakes for holding top heavy plants.
-Purchase pest control items either organic or other. I find that the more natural the product the better it will be for you and your plants.
-Clean all tools after each task to remove buildup of mud, any larvae, and other contaminants. I forgot to clean my tools last year and now some of them are rusted. Therefore, it helps to save money in the long run.
-Grease all mechanical or motorized part that require such maintenance. Which will extend the life of the equipment.
-Use recommended gas and oil in motorized equipment. When I first started gardening, I thought any gas or oil would work in whatever equipment I put it in, I was wrong!
-Use a cooler to keep cold drinks handy when working in heat. Heatstroke is real, my dad passed out and laid on the ground from such an experience. Remember to rest and wait it will be there tomorrow.
-Do not work in the heat of the day (work when it will be cooler).
-Use old clothes to work in the garden. Obviously, if you use your good clothes you only have dirty or tarnished clothes when you finish your gardening experience.
-Fertilize in fall in preparation for spring. I like a triple mix like 15 15 15, 13 13 13, or 30 30 30. If the ground has never been fertilized use the higher mix first then remember to switch to a lower number the next year.
-Remember to use caution and follow directions when using any product*
To do or not for container gardens:
-Buy, prepare, or use existing gardening soil for containers. I use the soil in my garden and add some premixed soil from local store.
-Use time released fertilize for containers. I like the pellet type small containers, which, allows a slow release of nutrients for the plants.
-If there will be a moisture problem like over/under watering try using water absorbing crystals to ensure water levels remain consistent. This was my problem when I started container gardening. I bought both water crystals and a water meter to determine if my moisture level in each pot was idea.
-Try to use the right size container for the plant. If the plant is bigger than the pot use a large pot. My rule is to use a pot at least two times larger than the plant.
If you need further information please refer to either a gardening book, magazine, or a gardening website.
As always there is more to gardening than any list or book can contain. One such example is how much one may enjoy all levels of doing such activities with plant care.
*Organic or any other pest control product may cause severe reactions, health problems, or harm animals. One must use extreme caution as well as following all manufacture instructions and directions while working with harmful materials in any state or consistency.