source: Walter Reeves
FALL IS FABULOUS FOR MOST PLANTS There are several reasons why it is better to plant in fall. The most important is soil temperature. Roots grow best when the soil is warm, between 55 and 75 degrees F. A fall-installed tree, shrub or perennial receives several weeks of vigorous root growth to ready itself for winter and for years of healthy growth.
September and October provide ideal temperatures to get perennial plants off to a good start.
Spring planting is usually successful but root growth is limited by cold soil. In years with a long, cool spring, like the one just past, soil didn’t warm to 55 degrees until May! If we had experienced a dry summer, the inadequate root system of spring-planted shrubs and trees might have lead to their death.
SOIL CONDITIONER IS IMPORTANT In the previous column, I made the point that research does not support adding soil conditioner to the area around a single tree or shrub. They might enjoy the rich soil so much that their roots never explore the harder soil outside the initial planting area.
Research is unequivocal about adding soil conditioner to plant beds, though. It is absolutely imperative!
Imagine going through life wearing a thick belt around your ankles, underwear two sizes too small and a towel wrapped over your mouth and nose. How vigorously would you be able to move each day?
Our clay soil is the plant equivalent of a human straitjacket. Clay resists root penetration, excludes oxygen and holds too much water. The cause of most perennial plant problems is a poor soil environment.
ADD LOTS OF IT I have been landscaping around a new water feature in the back yard. The soil around it is pure clay, yet I want ferns, hardy begonia and seasonal annuals to thrive there. I spade up a section, loosening the clumps of clay, and add a two inch thick layer of soil conditioner on top of the mound. I have a little 2-cycle tiller that makes short work of mixing the clay and the conditioner eight inches deep but you can accomplish the same with a shovel. The newly enriched soil assures me that the plants will prosper for years to come.
Like most efforts, the quality of your preparation determines your outcome. Whether you have in mind landscape renovation, transplanting a few shrubs or installing a bed of pansies, prepare now to give your plants the soil environment they deserve.
FoxFarm Potting Soils, Fertilizers & Conditioners:
OCEAN FOREST® POTTING SOIL
Our most popular potting soil, Ocean Forest® is a powerhouse blend of aged forest products, sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish emulsion, and crab meal.
Aged forest products, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat moss give Ocean Forest® its light, aerated texture. Start with Ocean Forest® and watch your plants come alive.
Ready to use right out of the bag. There’s no need for nitrogen fertilizers at first; instead try FoxFarm Big Bloom® Liquid Plant Food to get things started.
FOXFARM BIG BLOOM® FERTILIZER
Our Big Bloom® Liquid Plant Food is formulated for use on all plants and can be used every time you water. OMRI Listed® and Registered CDFA Organic Input Material.
OMRI Listed® and Registered CDFA Organic Input Material.
Our Big Bloom® Liquid Plant Food is a carefully selected blend of fertilizers formulated to support multiple blooms and seed formations. This liquid plant food supplies nutrients that your plants can access immediately.
Big Bloom® contains bat guano and earthworm castings. Bat guano has been used for centuries as a fertilizer for all kinds of plants. Combined with earthworm castings they create a nutrient-rich mix that can help your plants thrive.
Garden tip: Big Bloom® is formulated for all fruiting and flowering plants, and it can be used during all stages of plant growth.
HAPPY FROG® SOIL CONDITIONER
Don’t Treat Your Soil Like Dirt!®
Happy Frog® Soil Conditioner is a nutrient-rich soil amendment. In every bag, you’ll find finely screened aged forest products, earthworm castings, and bat guano, not to mention soil microbes and humic acid. Bring home a bale of our Happy Frog® Soil Conditioner, and your plants will thank you.
In every bag of Happy Frog® Soil Conditioner you’ll find finely-screened aged forest products, earthworm castings, and bat guano, not to mention soil microbes to help increase root efficiency and encourage nutrient uptake. We also add humic acids, which may increase the uptake of important micronutrients.
Who is Walter Reeves:
Garden expert, writer, radio and television host Walter Reeves grew up on a small Georgia farm in Fayette County, where his family raised chickens and cows. Walter and his four younger siblings were all expected to tend a large garden for family sustenance. After eighteen years of farm life, he swore that if delivered from tending animals and plants, he would never garden again. Yet, for a guy who longed to see the family farm recede in the rearview mirror as he headed to college, Walter admits that the unrelenting lure of gardening was stronger than he ever anticipated!
Oddly enough, Walter is now the most respected garden guru in the Southeast and the author or co-author of nine books on gardening. For 26 years, Reeves hosted “The Lawn and Garden Show with Walter Reeves” Saturday mornings on Atlanta’s WSB radio. It was one of the most listened-to radio shows in Atlanta among all 30 competing stations each weekend. He also writes a weekly column for the Thursday Atlanta Journal-Constitution and distributes a bi-weekly e-mail garden newsletter.