Tuesday, July 7, 2009 4:57 PM EDT
Question: "If I put in a garden now what will I still be able to grow? Also, the gardens have to be built from scratch (we are reseeding the entire lawn). So where do I start? Soil? Fertilizer? Mulch?"
Answer: Poor soil is the major reason that plants don’t thrive and usually the one thing that gardeners overlook when planting a new garden. Plants generally like loam-y soil that is rich in organic material and doesn’t drain too quickly. Your first priority should be to either amend the soil you have or invest in a load of “triple mix” (1/3 loam, 1/3 peat, 1/3 sand).
You’ll need to figure out how much sun your garden will receive in order to choose the right plants. Annual bedding plants are a good bet to get lots of colour the first year. The garden centres should still have a good selection in June. Plant some perennials too and you can count on bloom year-after-year. The best approach is to create a backbone for your garden with perennials you like and augment them each year with new and interesting annuals.
Keeping weeds down is a gardener’s scourge. But, to get a good return on your investment in time and money, you have to eliminate the weeds. Mulch is the gardener’s best friend and is by far your best defense against weeds. Once you have done your planting spread a mulch of some type between your plants. And, get the weeds while they are young! Pull them out, scratch them out. Don’t let weeds go to seed. Water when needed. There is no magic formula. It all depends on the weather.
A weekly rainfall of about 25 mm (1 inch) is ideal. You can measure the rainfall, but putting a rain gauge in your garden. If it is less than an inch, then you should water. But, avoid frequent shallow waterings. This encourages roots to stay near the surface instead of reaching deep into the soil for moisture. Water your garden early in the morning and early in the evening.
This column was originally posted on the Foodtv.ca Eating Well site.
Gardening Advice is featured on Style Sheet on Tuesdays.