Summer Garden Prep
Hard Work Now = Summer Fun Later
BY Morgan R. Buckert
May 27, 2014 - 09:57 AM
1. FERTILIZE YOUR PERENNIALSThe smell of MiracleGro makes me think fondly of my childhood, but I would never dare use anything blue on any plants at my house. For a really long time I didn’t fertilize my flowers at all, because our vegetable gardens are spaced around our house. A couple of years ago I discovered Bloom Kaboom (available at Webb Nursery and Sun Valley Garden Center) and changed my tune. It’s basically a natural compost tea that you dilute and water your plants with.
A two-week wild rose bloom turned into a three-month bloom; a two-bloom peony turned into a 10-bloom peony. I normally do a round of fertilizing in May and then again in June to ensure maximum blooms. It is safe to fertilize your annuals again in July, August, and even a warm September to keep things happy until fall.
2. MULCH-TIMESmall Western Bark (available at all local garden centers) is something I always splurge on. As my flowerbeds have expanded over the last six years in my house, it gets more expensive every year, but besides aesthetics, mulch keeps the ground moist and the weeds down. Mulch will slowly break down and add more nutrients to the soil. I always wait until all of my plants are up before I lay mulch down so I don’t smother them.
3. SET UP THE SPRINKLERSWhen we set up our sprinklers for spring, we check for any leaks (there are always new leaks) and replace any pipes or heads. Maintaining your sprinkler system reduces water waste and keeps the water pressure up for all those hard to reach corners of the yard. We set up our sprinklers for 30 minutes at 10:00 p.m. every other day. Watering at night and for long periods of time conserves water and reduces the frequency of watering. We have been participants of Trout Friendly Lawns since it’s inception. They can provide you with more information on water conservation and help you set up conservative watering.
4. PULL OUT & CLEAN THE PATIO FURNITUREYears of summer sun and winter cold can really wear on your patio furniture. I store my furniture in a shed over the winter. When I take it out in the spring, I clean it all off with a hose, then I wax all of my metal furniture. It sounds ridiculous, but the wax keeps the furniture clean and protects the color. I just use Turtle Wax or any other car wax—it reminds me of washing the car as a kid. I normally hit up my cruiser bike while I’m at it (then I look good cruising to work or the store).
5. SPLIT, MOVE AND/OR ACQUIRE NEW PERENNIALSPerennials are amazing. They are an investment, but over time they will expand and can be split or moved. It’s great to trade your extra plants or establish new beds with additional plants. Iris and daisies are some of the most prolific perennials—they are great to fill-in some empty spaces. Check with a local nursery for the correct time and method to split your perennials. Last year I put in a new shady perennial bed with Hosta, Lily of the Valley and Bleeding Heart, which is looking great after a little Bloom Kaboom. This year, I’m going small and have just bought some Astilbe to fill-in a few spots and add color to my front flowerbed. It’s difficult to pass up a new peony, though.
5. PLAN AND PURCHASE NEW ANNUALSThe best part of spring gardening is planning, purchasing and planting all of my annual containers. I make a list of all the containers I need to fill, explore Pinterest for new ideas and start the shopping! An important thing to consider when planning is any parties you might be having throughout the summer and fall. A few years ago my house was on the Hailey Garden Tour, so I wanted my flowers to be at their best in July and planned accordingly. Last year I got married in September so I planned some fall colored accent plants and replaced my summer flowers with fall mums, pansies and kale. It saved some money planning in advance and looked great. The world is your oyster when you’re planning your annuals—go crazy!
6. COMPLETE YOUR VEGETABLE GARDENThis is a whole different can of worms. Our vegetable gardens are almost an acre, require a whole year of planning and provide us with food for most of the year. The most important thing about planting vegetable gardens in the Wood River Valley is that our last frost date is May 28. We plant June 1, but in the last few years we have had frosts until late June in Hailey. Watch the weather and your plants will thrive.
You can buy the heirloom vegetable plants straight from our garden at all three Wood River Valley Webb Nursery locations! Look for vegetables labled Crazy Guy Tomatoes or check out our Facebook page.
Now it’s time to sit, have a cocktail, and enjoy all the hard work!