55 February 17, 2007

Gardening takes a certain amount of planningYou need to know how many shrubs will fit along the foundation of your house. When can you plant tomato plants outside. There isn’t a lot to do yet for gardening but let me give you some things to think about and hopefully plan ahead for spring.

Being in the lawn and garden business for over 30 years has taught me to ask people a lot of questions before giving people the correct information. If you are into gardening, one thing you need to know is how big is your yard. In the past few weeks, I wrote about putting lime on your lawn. The key is to put enough bags of lime down to get the Ph at the correct number. In order to do this, you need to know how much lawn area you have to lime. I wish I had a nickel for every time I asked someone how big their lawn is and the answer I get is”Oh, it’s big” Not too helpful. When the snow melts, go outside and spend some time measuring your lawn area. You need to know the area to get the right amount of lime, lawn fertilizer and even grass seed.
Another area that needs measuring is any of the flower beds that you will need to mulch in the spring. There is a formula that takes into account the number of square feet of bed area that you need to cover with mulch. Knowing how much area you have to cover allows you to buy the correct amount of mulch. You don’t need to buy a big pile if a little pile will do.

Now let me answer a few questions. People ask each spring if they need to replace the potting soil in their outdoor containers. Potting soil usually holds up for a number of years. You may need to add some organic matter to the soil to make up for any of the soil that has broken down. Adding fertilizer to the soil before planting will help the plants to grow better. Again, it is helpful to know how big the containers are if you are adding organic matter and/or fertilizer. Flower pots should be measured across the top and also you should know how deep the pot is. Window boxes can be measured by length and depth. These measurement are especially helpful if you need to replace the potting soil.

The heavy crusty snow we have had will make it tough on your plants if the snow is tossed on shrubs or if the load of the snow can break down the branches of the plant. By taking some time to carefully remove any piled up snow, you can minimize any damage to your shrubs.  Keep in mind that any rock salt that you use to melt snow and ice can damage plants if the salt settles in around the roots when the snow melts. There are other ice melting products that are less harmful to plant roots. Any of the potassium based ice melters will cause less root damage. Either way, you should apply gypsum around the base of any plant that has had any ice melter dropped near the base of the plant.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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