A Few Gardening Pitfalls

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Problem #1: Planting too deepSolution: Always plant all plants a little high. It is all relative to ball size. A 1 gal should be a half inch above grade. A 25 gal can should be two to three inches above grade. Ideally your plants settle in at grade or a little higher.

Problem #2:Not fertilizing at all, fertilizing sick, injured, or neglected plants. Solution:Everyone has their way of dealing with plants in crisis. First fertilizer is not medicine and cannot correct fungal problems with roots and foliage. Use the appropriate chemicals, always read the instructions on chemicals and make sure they treat what the actual problem is. This being said if something appeared to be going down hill back in the day my Dad would mix up miracle grow at half strength and conservatively watered plants in with this mixture and had great success bringing things around to good health. You can also kill things by doing this. Sometimes you get lucky sometimes you do not.

Problem #3: Using anything and everything for mulch, no strategy.Solution:Many times people think I mulched the plant, why is it not doing well. The fact of the matter is the mulch industry inundates us all with 500 choices of mulch with no recommendations on what to use them on generally. They just want you to buy something regardless of what it is. I always use pine bark mulch, unless a home owner specifies something else and they do not give in during the discussion phase of their project with me. Think of it this way. Do you put whatever kind of oil in your car and expect it to run properly. Whatever you use, have a strategy and have it figured out in a systems approach of how your mulch, soil, water and everything else are going to work together.

Problem #4: Digging holes that are barely larger than the plants root ballSolution: Always dig holes 2-3 times the width of the plants root ball and a little shallower to prevent the plant from settling low. This problem and problem 1 often go together.

Problem #5:Extreme watering practices.Solution:In the beginning of the season when temps are low and you are ideally getting a couple inches of rain a week you do not need to subsidize the water too much, but do not ignore it either. As temps rise and rain decreases increase your watering amounts and frequency of watering. In the Fall as temps go down and you start getting rain again decrease the amount of water you give and spread out the frequency. Water until everything freezes up around Thanksgiving generally. However just a FYI the ground is not frozen right now. It is not always the same year to year. Last year it froze up Jan 3. Check out the article on winter watering on the planting tips page.

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