Author Linda Cobb
Master Gardener Linda Cobb

Linda Cobb is a garden writer and certified Master Gardener who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is the author of My Gardener's Guide: Easy Steps to a Better Garden.

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Our Garden by Linda Cobb

Our Garden in Spring

Sweep away those winter blues, throw open the windows and welcome spring into the garden!

This is the most important time of year.  It the time when you prepare the garden for the growing season ahead.  It is also the time of year when you ammend your soil, feed the perennials, and the annuals.  So let’s begin.  The soil is the most important thing in your garden.  Good garden soil is prepared by first removing all of the grass.  You can dig it up or rent a grass removal machine, just get rid of it.  I like to mix in one third peat moss, one third sand (any kind), and one third existing soil. If you have a sandy soil, mix together leaf mold and mushroom compost.  Use a tiller to mix it up down to about eight to ten inches.  You will have perfect garden soil, ideal for vegetable gardens or flower gardens. 

After cleaning up the garden from winter, trimming away all of the dead foliage, apply two inches of soil conditioner to all of the garden beds.  Soil conditioner is a product that is meant to mix into the soil to improve it, but I like to use it as mulch.  No piece is any bigger than my littlest fingernail.  Over the course of the year, it will break down and go into my soil, improving it.  Every year my soil gets better and better.  Things like pine needles cannot improve your soil, so I only use what will.

Remember to feed your perennials.  Every spring I mix up my perennial feed formula and apply it to all of my perennials, flowering shrubs, clematis vines, hydrangeas, and peonies.  I do this in early spring when everything is just coming up out of the ground.  I mix up in a big wheel barrel the following:  one third peat moss, one third 10-10-10 with trace elements, and one cottonseed meal.  I apply anywhere from one third of a cup to a full cup, depending on how big the plant is.  Remember, do not get any of this on the leaves of your plants.  It is a very strong formula, used only once a year.  But it makes a big difference.

Finally, feed the annuals once a month with a little 10-10-10 with trace elements.  Using fertilizer with trace elements is important.  What are trace elements and why do you care?  They are micro-nutrients like copper, iron, or boron.  They normally come down out of heaven in the rainfall, and that is why the garden looks so good after a rain.  If you add them in a fertilizer it really makes a difference.  Trace element 10-10-10 costs a little more, but it is well worth it.  I use the cheap stuff on the grass and the expensive stuff on my garden beds.

Posted by Linda on Mar 31, 2008

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