Garden Tips

Garden Tips

If you have some garden tips and you would like to share them with the community, just send them to the Web Master.

The 411 on Planting Flower Bulbs

Knowing when to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils can be confusing to some gardeners.  Here are some handy bulb planting pointers to ensure that your spring bulbs are planted in good time to come up beautifully every year.
When can bulbs be planted?
Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils should be planted in the late fall or early winter in order to bloom in spring as they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower.  If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, your bulbs need to be planted in the ground before the ground freezes so that they can have time to develop strong roots.
If you forget to plant the bulbs in the fall, try chilling them in the refrigerator for use indoors as forced bulbs or somehow get them into the ground outside.  Because bulbs are so tough and contain a full storehouse of food, your bulbs will try their best to bloom no matter how late it is in the season.  Chances are you may still get some results, even if you plant them late.
Where is the best spot to plant flower bulbs?
Bulbs like tulips, daffodils and crocuses will grow in shade as well as a sunny location.  For bulbs that continue to thrive and multiply year after year however, they do need four to six hours of sunlight each day.
Even if your garden is shady in summer though, there is usually more sun in a spring garden as many of the trees and shrubs haven't grown their summer leaves back yet.
Be sure to plant bulbs in an area that the soil drains well so that your bulbs aren't sitting in water which could cause them to rot, but do water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.

Understanding Fertilizers

With so many different types of fertilizers available, gardeners are often confused as to what they need.  There are fertilizing liquids, crystals, powders, spikes and granules as well as a variety of organic fertilizers too.  Each type promises to give lush vigorous growth and boasts a list of (hard to understand!) vital ingredients and nutrients essential to your plant's health.
Fertilizers have two basic ways to deliver the nutrients to your lawn or garden…instant or a slow, controlled release.  Instant would be a liquid or quick dissolving powder or granule.  These are water soluble and reach the roots immediately giving your plants and lawn an immediate boost.  The benefit of this is that you can fertilize with this method a week or so before your garden party knowing that it will quickly green up your lawn.  The drawback is that the results will fade quickly leaving you to have to fertilize again.
Slow or controlled release fertilizers are usually granules or spikes that give up their nutrients more slowly over a period of time.  This means that you will only fertilize once and your plants have a constant source of nutrients over a longer growing period. This is more costly, but if you want a green lawn and well fed garden all summer it will save you money since you only need one application.
Once you’ve decided if you want the immediate or slow release type fertilizer, you need to know what specific type each plant needs.  Manufacturers are required by law to list the essential plant nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) on their product.  For instance, 10-15-10 would mean that product has 10% nitrogen, 15% phosphorus and 10% potassium.  Thankfully though, they also list what their fertilizer mixture is for, such as 'bigger tomatoes" or "extra green leaves".
Organic fertilizers include things like bloodmeal, bonemeal, manures, composts and fish emulsions.  They are often preferred by gardeners as they are less likely to burn the roots of plants and seedlings, they are environmentally friendly and won't damage the soil, and best of all organic fertilizers improve the quality and consistency of the soil itself.