Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Basic Gardening Tips for Plants

SOIL: You always want to start with good soil, you may want to purchase a testing kit from a local garden center to find out what your soil needs. You want soil that crumbles easily in your hands. Sometimes you have to add sand, clay and compost to get the type of soil that grows plants best. You may need to turn your soil with a shovel and add soil amendments in order to get the best soil. Soil that sticks together when you press it probably has a lot of clay in it. This causes problems for good drainage of water to happen. Soil that does not stick together and has much more air in it has too much sand. It does not hold the nutrients the plants need to survive well. Loam is the best kind of soil, not as sticky as clay and not too sandy. You can add compost or an organic (natural) soil amendment, such as leaves, compost, horse manure, bat guano or pre-packaged items from the local nursery that have nutrients. Always follow the directions on the package when using pre-packaged amendments. Soil amendments and different fertilizers can help the soil get better. Soil can be either alkaline or acidic, but what you want is some of each.

WATERING: Most plants need an average of 1 inch of water every week. You should try to water your plants earlier in the day, so the sun can help dry off any water left on the plant. If you see a plant drooping, be sure to water it, because some plants wilt and do not recover if they dry out.

MULCHING: Putting a mulch around the base of plants can help hold in water for the plant and keep weeds away. It is also useful for new and tender plants during the Winter months.

RESOURCES: Use an online for gathering information about your bulb. Books, local nurseries, libraries and other people who garden may have just the information you need!

STUDY: The best idea to have a good garden is to study what kind of climate you have (check the gardening links page to go to the zone map and what kind of plants and bulbs grow there). Once you know your zone, you can find out what zones the plant will grow in. Study garden books, magazines, use online gardening magazines, plant encyclopedias and garden sites to find as much information as you can about the plants you want in your garden.

MISTAKES: Trial and error is the way many gardeners (like me) learn about what to plant and where plants like to live in your garden. Sometimes it means putting a plant in the shade instead of in the sun, or pruning back some new growth even though the plant looks fine. Suddenly you will discover two plants that look good together and one blooms right after the other! Sometimes you can plan this, and sometimes it just happens. That's part of the fun of gardening, you are always learning. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or try something different...one book may say try this while another says you should try that but you have to see what works best for you and for your garden.

Basic Gardening Tips for Bulbs

BULBS ARE: A general name for "true bulbs" (such as Tulips), as well as tubers (Begonias), corms (Crocus) and rhizomes (Iris). Some of them look different but they all store up food inside themselves in the ground, kind of like their own storage place.

WHEN: Know when to plant the bulb: if it is a Spring blooming bulb, plant in the Fall; if it is a Fall blooming bulb, plant in Spring. If you purchase your bulbs from a local nursery, ask one of the garden staff if you are unsure of when to plant. Usually you can find the information on the package, planting stake or from a garden book.

PLANTING: Remember to follow directions in planting your bulbs at the right depth in the ground. Planting Iris too deeply sometimes keeps the plants from blooming. You can purchase a dauber tool in garden sections which helps to measure the depth while you plant. Otherwise, use a trowel (it's like a small hand shovel) and figure out how deep you push the end of the trowel into the ground.

WATERING: Make sure you water the bulbs even through Winter, bulbs need water just like regular plants.

LEAVES: Always keep bulb leaves on the plant until they yellow and fade back. Bulbs gather their food and fuel for next year's bloom this way. If the leaves are unsightly, tie them back or plant larger Annuals nearby to cover the fading leaves. Most bulbs do not need fertilizer. There are exceptions, such as Iris, which need to be fertilized a few times a year.

DIVIDING: After a few years you may notice less flowers from your bulbs. They may need dividing. Read about that particular plant and how you have to dig up the plant. Find out the best time to do this from a gardening book. You may be surprised at the new smaller bulbs that are growing around the bigger bulb, which means they are multiplying and can be replanted to form it's own flower when it's big enough.