Garden Clippings for May 19, 2018
The flowers have been bought. The garden beds have been weeded and we’re ready to plant. What’s next? How do I make sure the plants are off to a healthy start?
Soil preparation is key to success when planting flowers and vegetables. Adding manure, triple mix, peat moss and compost will improve soil texture and will add fertilizer value. Begin by spreading the soil amendments over the garden beds. Next till or scratch it all together to a depth of two or three inches, breaking the soil clumps as you go. Rake the planting bed level.
Harden off the new plants before putting outdoors. Whether you have grown your own seedlings or bought plants from a greenhouse, young tender plants don’t like to be shocked when brought outdoors in the wind and cold. I recommend leaving the small plants in their trays and putting them outdoors in a warm, sheltered spot for a few days before planting in the garden. Keep in mind that prior to you buying plants they have never yet been exposed to the great outdoors.
Make sure the soil is warm before planting. Cabbage family, radish, onion and lettuce like cool soil, but tomatoes and peppers need consistently warm temperatures to take off. Most flowers, especially shade loving impatience and begonias should be acclimatised for a few days before planting in warm soil.
Digging holes is when the fun begins. Every gardener has their own system, but I dig all the holes prior to planting. When planting in the vegetable garden, I recommend using a marked-up stick to ensure good spacing.
If the planting bed has been nicely worked up, I will dig the holes by hand. If the soil is firm or if the rooted pots are too big, it will be helpful to use a garden trowel.
Carefully tap the sides of the seeding pots to loosen the root clump. Turn the plants to the side and gently tug the root clump out of the container. Put the seedlings in the holes and backfill with loose soil. if your soil is clumpy, break it up into finer particles.
Water well immediately after planting. Use a gentle watering wand and soak the water over the root zone, being careful not to blast the newly planted seedlings. Watering thoroughly will accomplish two things: it will make water available to the plants, but more importantly will cause soil to settle and eliminate air pockets that may have been created at planting time.
Feeding your plants will boost their performance. If using traditional granular or water-soluble plant food, I recommend waiting a week or so after planting. My favorite plant food is the controlled release product now made by all the major fertilizer manufacturers. Originally developed for professional growers in the plant container industry, timed release plant food is now formulated for homeowner use. It can be applied immediately after planting and the fertilizer granules will slowly be released over two months. Apply again in mid summer.