Hi Y'all! We have all been enjoying the warmer temps the last few days & spring is just around the corner! At the end of February & early March, it is time to begin prepping for spring (pull out those gardening boots!). Today I have Carolyn here with me to help explain what you can do now to get ready for spring at your house, in your gardening beds!
Me: So, Carolyn, what is the first spring cleaning "chore" that homeowners need to know can be done now?
Carolyn: Cleaning up! Clean out/ rake beds of all mulch & plant debris which may be harboring disease or insects. Pull out any annuals left from last season. If you haven't cut spent perennials down yet, now is the time.
Me: Great! Now, what about Ornamental Grasses? I know we always trim ours back in late Winter here at the Nursery.
Carolyn: Yes, Ornamental Grasses should be cut down before the new spring growth emerges. The reason for this is to avoid removing the pointed tip from new shoots. Blunted grass tips do not have a graceful appearance in your landscape. Trim grasses to 12" or so from the ground.
Me: And they will grow back quickly this year, won't they. I know homeowners sometimes question if they will grow back fast.
Carolyn: Oh yes, definitely. Ornamental grasses grow rapidly, so they will grow back the same season.
Me: So, we've cleaned up around/in our gardening beds, what should we do next?
Carolyn: If not done in the fall, now is the time to enrich and rebuild the soil before the new growing season. It will make ALL the difference. Loamy soil is the best for gardening because it has equal parts clay, silt, sand, & organic material. There is very little loamy soil in our area; we are blessed with an abundance of clay, so amending is very much worth the time & money spent.
Me: There is a lot of clay in our area! How would you suggest to amend our soils?
Carolyn: Amendments provide two basic functions: enrichment & improving the physical structure of soil which allows roots to "take-up" nutrients & move through the soil. In our heavy clays we must chop up the clay to make smaller particles. To keep those smaller particles apart, add soil conditioner. Soil conditioner is barky & when mixed in with the clay it keeps the clay from reforming large clods which in turn allows water to drain. Usually a ratio of 1/3 soil conditioner to 2/3 original soil is adequate.
Me: I have used soil conditioner for years in my own gardening beds & find it helps so much with drainage & clay soil. When digging a hole for a new tree (for example), chop up the clay soil in the base of the hole & add the ratio Carolyn was mentioning & work it all in. Your roots will be so happy you did!
Carolyn: Yes they will!
3. Enrichment Products
Carolyn: There are several different products you can use to enrich your soil.
*Compost: decayed organic matter
*Manure: cow or chicken (always use composted manure)
*Mushroom: the soil used in commercial mushroom production contains mycorrhizal fungi.
*Worm castings: also known as vermicast. Provides conversion mechanisms so plants can access needed nutrients. Worms introduce uncountable numbers of beneficial microbes & bacteria into the finished product. In addition, castings contain humic acid which help roots absorb nutrients- in short, they are the super food of the garden.
Me: It sounds like we all need worm castings in our gardening beds!
Carolyn: Add a slow-release organic fertilizer now to perennials, shrubs, & trees. Always use according to product directions.
Me: I've made a video on how to understand fertilizer bags better, along with a few other tips- watch below, & we hope these tips have helped you prepare for spring! We are fully stocked with the best lines of organic fertilizers, worm castings, composts, & more at the Nursery. We look forward to seeing you soon! Thank you, Carolyn, for taking the time to share all these great tips with us today!
Carolyn: It has been my pleasure. We are ready for you all this spring & we have all products mentioned on hand now, so no excuses!