Make this your best gardening season yet. Melinda Myers, nationally known horticulturist and gardening expert, suggests you “Invest a bit of time now to insure a bountiful harvest and beautiful landscape throughout the season”.
Start by caring for spring flowering bulbs. Water thoroughly, if needed, and fertilize established plantings as the leaves appear. “I like to use Milorganite. This low nitrogen slow release fertilizer will give your bulbs a blooming boost. Apply two pounds per one hundred square feet for best results,” says Myers.
Remove spent flowers on tulips and hyacinths to direct the energy back into the bulbs instead of setting seeds. Do the same to improve the appearance of daffodils. And, if you are overrun with grape hyacinths and squills, a little deadheading will help slow them down.
Keep the leaves on your bulbs until they naturally yellow and dry. The leaves produce energy needed for beautiful blooms next spring. The longer you have the leaves intact the more energy and better bloom for next season.
Hide the declining bulb leaves by planting annuals between the bulbs. “I like to add some perennials to bulb displays for a more permanent solution. As the bulbs decline the perennials will grow and mask the declining foliage,” says Myers. She likes to mix with spring blooming perennials for double the impact or combine with summer and fall bloomers to extend bloom time.
Now that your bulbs are cared for you can start preparing a strong foundation for new plantings. Properly prepared soil can help new plantings survive the heat, drought and pest attacks of summer. Myers advises gardeners, “Add several inches of organic matter to the top 6 to 12˝ of soil. Compost, peat moss, aged manure and other organic materials improve drainage in heavy clay soil and increase the water holding capacity of sandy and rocky soils.”
Incorporate a slow release low nitrogen fertilizer like Milorganite before planting flowers and vegetables. The low nitrogen formula makes it goof proof so you will not harm young tender plants. The slow release formula provides small amounts of fertilizer over time. This encourages overall growth without preventing flowering and fruit production that can occur when too much nitrogen is applied.
Myers recommends homeowners “improve the health of trees and shrubs with proper watering and mulch”. Water new plantings whenever the top 4 to 6˝ of soil are crumbly and slightly moist. And she reminds owners to “care for those established plantings as well. These need a helping hand during extended periods of drought. Always water thoroughly to encourage deep drought resistant roots.”
Maintain a 2˝ to 3˝ layer of mulch around trees and shrubs. Woodchips, shredded bark and other organic materials help conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose. Keep mulch away from the trunk of trees and crowns of other plants to reduce the risk of disease.
Use Milorganite to give existing trees, shrubs and perennials a nutrient boost. The low nitrogen slow release formula encourages moderate growth that needs less pruning and is less susceptible to certain pests. The iron is non-staining and gives the plants a green boost.
And best of all Milorganite is kind to the environment. This eco-friendly product has been around for more than 80 years. The organic nitrogen and non-leaching phosphorus make it a good choice in any planting. Plus, recent research has found when Milorganite is used the existing phosphorous and potassium in the soil is available for the plants to use.
So warm up those gardening muscles, break out your tools, and get started gardening.
Melinda Myers LLC.
P.O. Box 370331
Milwaukee, WI 53237-0331