Prepare Soil for Good Yield

Flowers and vegetables require good soil to produce a good yield. Sandy loam soils are preferred. A fertile, well-drained soil allows roots to expand and produce healthy plants. Organic compost, aged manure, leaf mold and other additives improve the garden. They are the helpful standbys for gardeners. Vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight, and some need more. Leafy vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, spinach) require less sun than root vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes). Root vegetables need less sun than fruit-bearing ones (cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes). Avoid planting near roots of trees and shrubs that compete for nutrients and moisture. Plant outside the drip line of trees, to decrease plant growth and limit production of quality vegetables. A planned garden saves time, cost and space. In sandy soils, organic matter helps retain moisture and adds nutrients. In clay soils, inorganic materials break up the soil and create spaces that allow water and air to travel through the soil. Large amounts are needed; otherwise the result will resemble concrete. The following can be used: Perlite, a white, glass-like volcanic material, about one-tenth the weight of sand that is often included in potting mixes; Vermiculite, a mica mineral with spongelike kernels that are highly porous but very lightweight that is included in potting mixes; and coarse builders' sand, not fine sand, nor sand from the seashore.

Hort Shorts

  • Easily grown, tubers of tuberoses should be planted about four inches deep in a light, fertile, well-drained soil. There are two types: single and double. For earlier flowers, start some in pots inside and then plant outdoors after the weather warms. Tubers that flower this year may not bloom next year, but will flower the next season if properly grown. Single tubers flower more freely and are more likely to bloom next year. Consider planting some of each type every year. Tubers should be dug before a killing frost because they are not cold-hardy. Store in a warm, dry place.
  • For a permanent lawn of bluegrass or fescue, sow seeds now—well ahead of warm weather. It's still too cool to sow seeds of Bermuda grass.
  • Plant seeds of beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, onions, chard, kale, spinach, including New Zealand spinach, and turnips this month. Wait another month for the soil to warm up before planting seedlings of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Use a complete fertilizer on just about all plants that are part of the landscape.
  • Give camellias and azaleas acid fertilizer when they finish blooming and continue to feed monthly until hot weather arrives.
  • If Bermuda lawn was overseeded with winter grass, lower the mower and cut close so that light can penetrate and encourage the Bermuda to begin growth. When Bermuda begins to show green colors, begin a monthly feeding with high-nitrogen fertilizer.
  • After planting strawberries, pinch off any blooms that appear the first year to concentrate energy toward developing strong roots and runners. Next year, plants will be established enough to produce a quality crop.
  • Late March, April and early May plantings of chrysanthemums bring autumn beauty.
  • Bearded iris plants are usually trouble free if rhizomes are planted shallow in well-drained soil in full sun. They adapt to almost any soil type.
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