Preparing Spring Vegetable Planting for Gardens

spring gardeningWinter has finally concluded for the year and now is the time to start preparing your spring vegetable planting for gardens.  Some easy to steps will help you ease into planting your inside seedling and bulbs to transitioning to the outdoors when the temperatures are just right.

Spring Garden Cleaning

  • Spring is the perfect season to clean your garden beds, remove dead leaves as well as winter pruning of tree limbs or stems. If need you can use this debris for a compost pile or bin.
  • Remove old weeds by their roots to prevent their re-growth. When disposing of weeds, do not throw them into a compost bin or pile.  Weeds can germinate in the compost pile and be reintroduced to your garden.
  • Organize your tool shed so it will be easier to find the things you need readily during gardening season.

Soil Management

Testing your soil for deficient nutrients and soil type will correctly identify your soil’s need. Many cooperative extension services provide local residents with soil testing for a reasonable rate, additionally you purchase a do it your self soil test kit at your local lawn and garden store.

Nitrogen rich soils work best, but soils can be too acidic or too alkaline. For balanced soils consider amending your soil with organic materials, such as compost, worm castings or well-aged manure. For unbalanced soils you can purchased fertilizer specialized for the soil imbalance.

 

Let the Planting Begin

Begin with growing cool-season vegetables such as arugula, lettuces, peas and cabbages. Plant tomatoes and peppers from seeds indoors about two months before the last frost. Follow up and allow seedlings to adjust to outdoor conditions before planting them in the garden. Divide perennials before spring growth for best results.

Mulch

Mulching will reduce weeds, mitigate diseases, save water and keep soil temperatures constant. Water soil before applying mulch, and again water after mulching. Avoid placing mulch a few inches from the plant stems to prevent root rot.

The simple and easy steps to preparing spring vegetable planting will help jump start your garden yield and consistency.

How to Mulch Properly

A common landscaping feature is using mulch.It’s important to learn the differences between mulch materials, and how to mulch properly. Use and apply the spread mulch serves a purpose for your garden, including:

  • Insulating roots on hot days.
  • Preventing moisture from evaporating.
  • Hinders weeds from taking root.

There are two basic kinds of mulch.

mulch21. Organic materials include wood, bark, compost, grass clippings, and leaves. Organic mulch will decompose and improve the soil as they break down and decompose. Over a few years you’ll need to add more mulch, in addition, organic mulches are easy to spread, and do no harm if mixed into soil.

2. Non organic stone and plastic mulches by contrast is meant to be a more permanent mulch. Non organic mulches are applied  atop a layer of landscape fabric, and then left alone. It’s the lowest-maintenance option but not easy to work plant in. If you will be doing any gardening that requires digging and moving mulch aside to plant ornamental grasses or plants? You will want to stick with an organic mulch.

Choosing the right mulch for your garden.

Every kind of organic mulch has it’s downsides. For example, bark nuggets are can float away in heavy rain. Cocoa hulls have a distinct aroma, yet are relatively expensive, and toxic to dogs. Shredded bark or wood is the most common landscape mulch. It’s inexpensive and easy to apply, however doesn’t add many nutrients to soil compared to other mulches.

Yard debris can used as mulch.

You can also use debris from your yard as mulch, such as grass clippings, leaves, and compost. Grass clippings are effective as mulch, as long as you don’t apply too much or it will get soggy and sticky. Avoid mulch if the grass was treated with herbicides. Leaves are an excellent mulch if they’re shredded first. Pine needles are long lasting and an excellent mulch for plants like azaleas, because pine needles acidify soil.

Calculating the amount of mulch you will need depends on your area of coverage and the depth you want. The following are standard coverage rates for a 2 cubic foot bag, a 3 cubic foot bag and a cubic yard.

Choosing a Lawn Mower For Your Yard

 

How to Amend Clay Soil

Why you should amend clay soil?

It’s so hard for plants to thrive when their roots are planted in clay.  How to amend clay soil so that it’s easier to dig, easier to water, and easier for your plants? Soil is the foundation of the garden. When you have a hard clay soil in your garden it makes it more difficult for your plants to grow and thrive.

Add Organic Material to Soil

clay mixed soilUsing organic materials and mix it in well to a depth of at least 6-8 inches. Home improvement and garden centers sell large bags of soil amendment  or “soil conditioner” materials, while providing advice for what to use in the soil. Materials include:

  1. Peat moss,
  2. Chopped up green plants,
  3. Potting soil
  4. Dried Leaves and Leaf mold,
  5. Aged compost
  6. Aged manure… the list goes on.

If you’re amending a large garden area all at once, figure on adding a layer of organic material that’s a good 3-4 inches deep.  Use a rototiller if you have one, or use a spade and some sweat equity to mix it all together.     If you can find a strong able-bodied teenager who wants to earn some cash, all the better.  Spread the organic material out across the area to be worked, and use the spade to dig down, turn over, stir, chop, and repeat, until the entire bed has been worked.

For a few months after amending your soil, pay a little extra attention to the soil moisture when watering your plants.  The clay around your newly amended area can act like a bowl, holding too much water and staying too wet.

Expanded Shale

expanded shaleExpanded Shale is porous, high-temperature fired clay that never breaks down and can hold 38% of its weight in water.  It is highly recommended to use expanded shale for every planting! Its size helps produce air flow, which provides oxygen to the roots and improves water retention in sandy soils.

How to use Expanded Shale?

Flower beds in clay soil, lay down a 3 inch layer of the expanded shale with a 3 inch layer of compost, then till in 6-8 inches deep. Expanded shale must be incorporated into the soil, not added on top of the soil surface. Crown beds to further improve drainage. After planting plants, cover with a 3 inch layer of mulch. If soil is sandy or loam, expanded shale is not necessary to improve drainage although its water holding capacity may be the bonus. More info here:

Gardens and landscapes that have clay soils will be tricky to plant the types of plants you want without some soil modification.  If you have a large or small project help is just a click away with Lawn Care Flowermound. For Landscaping, Lawn Maintenance, and more Contact Us for a free estimate.

 

 

 

Drought Resistant Plant: Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon)

angeloniasA Must Have for Texas Gardens.

Landscape professionals and horticulturists are raving about Angelonia’s heat and drought tolerance, extended
bloom period and performance in the landscape. Better Homes and Gardens magazine listed it as one of the top
20annuals of 2008 and it was a Georgia Gold Medal Winner in 2009.

In addition the Angelonia is a Texas Top Performer
Angelonia is a spreading annual with upright flower spikes that resemble miniature snapdragons. The Serena™ series are the only angelonias that are grown from seed. Flower colors available include white, pink, purple, lavender and lavender pink. Angelonia can be used as a border planting, a ground cover or as a trailing plant for mixed containers.

Check out the video below and be sure to contact us for help with your landscaping maintenance and projects. We are here to help!