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Spring Is For Flowers

Don Trotter

Hello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to the colorful season of the year. Spring has sprung, and it is time for flowers. Let's take a walk outside and discuss some of the things we can do to make our gardens more colorful this year.

Flowers cheer up our outdoor spaces and make our gardens look more interesting. They certainly make our homes more attractive as well. From our rose gardens to the annual flower beds, colorful blossoms provide tons of enjoyment and help to make our personal Edens places where we can marvel at the gifts of nature.

When planting flower gardens we now have a number of choices of seedling plants at the nursery and garden center to choose from. In the past we had to resort to seed catalogs to get the flowers we wanted to grow if they weren't simple petunias, pansies, or snapdragons. Now most garden centers and local nurseries stock a wide variety of flower species and colors for us to choose from. I still like to peruse the seed catalogs for any really unusual plants that may find their way into the spring garden however.

When choosing a site for a flower garden it is a good idea to take the amount of sunlight the spot gets in order to determine what kinds of flowers will grow and bloom best under the conditions available in your garden. If you have a very sunny spot choose plants that prefer lots of sun. If you have a shady area where you want flowers choose plants that thrive in the shade. Choosing appropriate plant species for the sun exposure in your garden will ensure the highest level of success with your flower gardening projects.

The next most important thing to think of when considering a beautiful flower display in the garden is soil quality and fertility. Nothing makes your plants grow better than healthy, rich, organic soil. Soil enriched with organic matter will hold moisture longer thus eliminating many of the problems associated with water stress on your plants. It also nourishes the biology in the soil that converts organic matter into humus and plant foods. Soil preparation before you plant your flower garden certainly ensures a greater level of success. By adding organic matter, mineral supplements, and long-lasting natural/ organic fertilizers you maximize your chances for a successful growing season while you minimize maintenance.

I have a very useful recipe for proper soil preparation in flowerbeds that require only one treatment. You don't need to feed the garden again for the entire growing season and your flowers will be giant, colorful, and considerably more problem and maintenance free than they would be if you used chemical fertilizers. I have done the calculations for a ten-foot by ten-foot area (100 square feet).

8-12 cubic feet of organic compost

10-15 pounds of granulated limestone (if soils are acidic)

10-20 pounds of agricultural gypsum (if soils are alkaline)

5 pounds of Blood Meal

5 pounds of Hoof and Horn Meal or Feather Meal

10 pounds of Bone Meal or 5 pounds Soft Rock Phosphate

2.5 pounds Sul-Po-Mag (Sulfate of Potash Magnesia- also called K-Mag)

5 pounds of Kelp Meal

This soil preparation recipe will last the entire growing season providing your plants with balanced nutrients. No further fertilizer applications are necessary. Compare that to the chemical plant foods that require weekly or monthly application for time saving and money savings. This recipe also improves the quality of your soil while it feeds your plants. No chemical can do that!

I just put the granular minerals and the plant foods on top of the existing soil, rake them into the surface of the flowerbed soil, and then put the compost/ organic matter on top. Then I water it thoroughly, wait two days for everything to settle, then plant the flower garden right through the compost layer. This is something I like to refer to as "lasagna gardening". After a few seasons of this type of garden preparation you'll see a marked increase in the quality of your soil. But the really great part is that it is not very labor intensive and can be done by anyone. No roto-tilling, no digging, no blisters involved.

Using natural/ organic methods to care for your spring flower garden will also minimize water loss from runoff. Whether it is from your irrigation system or from the rain, water lost from the garden, as runoff is not a good thing. This is the way our waterways get polluted. The runoff waters carry with them nutrients from fertilizers that enter our water. This creates bacterial and algae blooms that can do harm to the overall water quality. This is one of the primary reasons why chemical fertilizers are so harmful. They do nothing to improve soil quality and have very high nutrient content that is quickly dissolved in water. This combination can be devastating to drinking water and recreational water quality. Natural gardening does not impact water quality because all of the nutrients stay in your yard to feed your plants.

Next time we will be discussing mid-spring rose gardening to ensure that your roses are happy and healthy all summer long. See you in the Garden!

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