May 9, 2012
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. It is the day we honor our Mother. Yet for many gardeners, it is also the unofficial start to the planting season. Along with purchasing plants for Mom, many will be planting annual flowers, perennials, trees, shrubs and vegetable plants. Many years, Mother’s Day is a bit later in the month. This does lead to a little bit of confusion as to whether it is too early to plant. The answer can be simple, yet it can also be complicated. The simple part is that trees, shrubs, perennials and some vegetable plants and some annuals can be safely planted. The complicated part is in knowing if we will have a frost that can affect the tender annuals and vegetables. The old gardening adage is that it is safe to plant all plants after the full moon in May. The full moon was last week. Yet there have been frosts after the full moon in previous years. Another adage is that you plant tomato and pepper plants on Memorial Day weekend. So, if you are looking for concrete answers, there isn’t any answer. If you are playing the odds, than it’s time to plant everything. I hope that cleared up that question!
Since it is planting season, let’s take some time to talk about how to plant. It can be a bit more complicated than digging a hole and dropping in a plant. Let’s start with planting trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs need a certain environment for good growth. Along with the proper amount of sun or shade, these plants also need a certain type of soil for optimum growth. Most plants need to be in a soil that holds moisture, yet they don’t want to sit in water all the time. The old planting adage for trees and shrubs is that you dig a $50 hole for a $5 plant. What this means is that the preparation of the soil is very important. You will need to dig a hole that is wider than the root ball of the plant. I usually recommend two to three times wider than the container the plant grew in. You then have this pile of soil. You then will mix a planting mix with that soil and use that mixture to fill back in around and under the root ball of the plant. To get the roots growing on the plant, you should use a plant starter fertilizer to help to get the new roots to grow. This is usually a liquid fertilizer that you mix with water and then use that mixture to initially water the plant.
Perennials can be a bit more complicated in that they can have different soil requirements. The plant tag will tell you what type of soil conditions the plant needs. You may or may not have to add a planting mix if the soil in your garden unless the soil is of a poor quality. Just like with trees and shrubs, you should use a plant starter fertilizer to get the plants roots to grow quickly.
Annual flowers and vegetable plants that are grown in the ground may need to have planting mix added to the soil. Just like with the perennials, it depends on the requirements of the plant. If you are growing the annuals or vegetable plants in containers, you must use potting soil to fill the containers. If you use soil from your yard or if you use topsoil, the soil will tend to pack down, making it harder for the proper development of the roots. Poor root growth equals poor plant growth. Just like all the other plants, the use of a plant starter fertilizer will help to get those plants off to a good start. For those of you who garden organically, there is an organic plant starter fertilizer.
Hopefully that has answered your questions about planting your gardens. If not, stop by the store and we will be glad to help.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next