March 30, 2016
March is coming to an end and with any luck April will warm up enough to allow us to get outside on a daily basis. Even though it has been a relatively “nice” winter, most gardeners can’t wait to get their hands in the soil.
Late last week, we received our first shipment of pansies. We received another shipment earlier this week. Pansies are very cold tolerant. They are probably the first very colorful flowering plants that you can put into your window boxes and other planters. Pansies have been hybridized to create so many color combinations. In many cases, you may find it hard to pick a color! You can add in pots of tulips, daffodils or crocus to create a miniature garden in your window boxes.
Pansies prefer to grow in a good quality potting soil. If you have used the same potting soil in your window boxes for a few seasons, it would be advisable to remove the soil and add fresh soil. If you haven’t tried the Coast Of Maine potting soil, now would be a good time to do so. We have used it in our planters and the plants really respond well to the quality of the soil. One thing that you need to know about pansies is that they need to have their old flowers removed. Once a flower begins to go by, remove the flower and the stem that the flower is attached to. If you just pull off the flower, a seedpod will form on the stem. Once the pansies begin to produce seedpods, they are less likely to produce new flowers. Pansies also produce more flowers if you keep them fertilized on a regular basis. I have found that you will get the most growth and the maximum number of flowers if you fertilize the planters every 7 to 10 days with a “blossom booster” type of fertilizer. This type of product is mixed with water and then you apply that solution to the soil. We have that type of fertilizer at our store.
If you have the lawn raked up, you should put down lime to offset the acidity from all the acidic rain we have received. You can do a soil test to check the acidity of the soil, but if you have not applied lime in over a year, it is a pretty safe bet that you need to do so. If you have lilacs in your yard, they need an application of lime too. If the soil is too acidic, lilacs will produce far fewer flowers and their growth will be spindly. Most of your perennials will benefit from an application of lime. Ditto for your vegetable garden or your raised beds in which you grow vegetables.
If your soil is too acidic, it is very difficult for your plants to take up the fertilizer that is in the soil. This leads to weaker plants and if they are flowering plants, you will get a lot less flowers. I have found over the years that some rhododendrons will stop flowering if the soil gets too acidic. Rhododendrons are called “ acid loving “ plants but the soil can get too acidic for even those plants. Some people have found that an application of a small amount of lime can bring the rhododendrons back into flower the following year.
Your lawn can outgrow many weeds if the grass can get a good head start on producing new blades of grass. If the soil is too acidic, the grass struggles to grow and then the weeds take over your lawn. By applying the correct amount of lime to your lawn, you can get the grass to use your lawn fertilizer at an efficient rate that allows the grass to force out the weeds.
Well, that all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.