Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

As we begin to transition from summer to fall, now is prime time to plant trees and shrubs. If planted now, trees and shrubs will put all their trees and shrubsenergy into root growth.  Roots will grow throughout the winter months to store nutrients for next season. Trees and shrubs need less water during winter, because shorter and cooler days decrease the rate of photosynthesis. Trees planted in the fall are better able to withstand the heat and drought of the next summer. Soil is warmer now than it was in the spring, and it will remain warm even after air temperatures start dropping.

Pick a good location for your tree or shrub that will provide it with the appropriate amount of sun or shade and meet its moisture requirements. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and no deeper (the top of the root ball should be above soil level). The root ball will lower a bit as the soil settles, and you don’t want it to end up too low in the ground. If planted too deeply in the ground, the plant can suffocate because not enough air will reach the root system. Break apart and loosen the roots if they are pot bound, so that they can more easily spread out once in the ground.

Once your hole is dug, use the shovel a few times in the bottom to loosen the soil and make it a little easier for the roots to expand outward. Amend the soil with composted cow manure, soil conditioner and organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizer is good to use in the fall because it contains a healthy dose of good bacteria and micro-nutrients, so it isn’t going to drive a lot of foliage growth, but will help the root system immensely. The mixture should end up being composed of a third of the existing soil, a third cow manure and a third soil conditioner. In addition to that mixture, we suggest using Espoma Bio-Tone. This is a starter fertilizer that contains myccorhizae (a type of fungi that roots rely on to help them gather nutrients) and other beneficial micro-nutrients that will help the plant establish a bigger and healthier root ball.

 

Spread a couple inches of mulch over the area to protect the roots and water well. Trees and shrubs have high water needs as they attempt to establish a strong root system.

Any tree or shrub that has been grown in a container or has burlap around its root ball can be planted in the fall. Do you have more questions? Stop in and see one of our friendly staff members who would be glad to assist you with your fall planting needs!

Planting a Cool Season Vegetable Garden

We’re heading into the homestretch of summer, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to plant cool season vegetables! Here in North Carolina, spring temperatures can climb quickly, which makes vegetables such as lettuce or spinach develop a bitter flavor. Those veggies, along with others such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, generate the best flavor when they mature during cooler weather. Planting these crops now means you’ll have a harvest of produce that will carry you well into the fall and winter.

ThFall veggies to plant - beautiful red leavesere are a number of cold-hardy crops that prefer the cooler temps and higher moisture levels that come at this time of year. Late planted vegetables usually have less competition from weeds and there are fewer pests around to bother them. Some of these plants can grow very quickly from seeds and be ready to eat in a little over a month. Arugula, mustard, spinach, turnips and radishes all germinate from seeds and are ready to harvest in about 40 days.

To ensure success of late harvests, make sure seedlings have enough time to create well-established root systems before the first frost hits. It’s best to plant cool season vegetables in raised beds or mounded rows, and seeds should be planted deeper because the moisture level of the soil is lower and the surface temp is higher. The planting depth may be as much as twice as deep as for spring planting of the same crop. Give your plants a layer of manure or compost that is several inches thick to help the plants establish strong roots, provide adequate drainage, and supply the necessary nutrients for proper plant growth. Sprinkle fertilizer over top of your plantings for extra nutrients and continue to fertilize them regularly in the early growth stages.

Most vegetables need about an inch of water per week. For cool season veggies, it is best to do a single watering that seeps deep into the ground, rather than several applications that soak more shallowly. Young seedlings, germinating seeds, and transplants may require some light watering between the weekly soak.

Most cool weather vegetables can tolerate a light frost, but if a harsh frost hits, you will want to cover your beds with burlap, tarp or a blanket to protect plants.

Below are some suggestions of cool season vegetables to plant:

  • AsparagusSalad greens to plant for fall harvest
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

If you’re thinking about starting a cool season vegetable garden, stop in and see us! Our friendly staff is on-hand seven days a week and can help you with all of your gardening needs.

Tips for Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Did you know that a high number of pollinators equates to a very healthy ecosystem? The more pollinators, the more biodiversity of plants there is. In fact, some plants are entirely dependent on the help of pollinators to pollinate and reproduce. The term pollinator describes an animal that moves pollen between parts of a flower and includes butterflies, bees, birds, bats, and other insects and mammals. It’s certainly worthwhile to create a garden which is pollinator-friendly. Not only will you get to see increased wildlife activity, but you will also be doing a favor for the environment.

A bumble bee dangles from a flowerPollinators are attracted to flowers by their color or scent, and flowers bloom at different times of the day depending on what type of pollinators they want to attract. Flowers that bloom during the day are generally bright colors and trying to attract bees, butterflies, or other insects. Flowers that bloom at night are usually sweet smelling with a pale color to attract moths and bats.

To create a garden for pollinators, try to have plants that bloom at various times of the year, so that there is always something for them to snack on. Different types of pollinators have different habits and need pollen or nectar at different times of the year. Plant in clumps as opposed to a single plant, and consider using species native to your area. Native plants are more likely to survive and thrive, plus, they are best suited to nourish your local pollinator population. Old-fashioned flower varieties are best for pollinators. Avoid using modern hybrids because many have been bred to have double-flowers, and don’t have the pollen or nectar that pollinating species are looking for. Gardens with a wide variety of plants are most attractive to pollinating species.

Other garden features can make your garden more livable for pollinators. Just like any living being, they need food, shelter, and water. A butterfly house is a good way to invite butterflies into your garden. If you decide to install a butterfly house, consider growing plants which their larvae can eat (and be prepared to see some munched-on leaves). Plants such as milkweeds, dogwoods, and verbena are all excellent choices. Having a shallow dish of water helps pollinators, especially those in the midst of a long migration. Keep in mind: butterflies cannot drink open water and, instead, must drink from wet soil or sand.

It’s important to carefully consider the use of pesticides when planting for pollinators. The chemicals can be harmful to them if ingested or if they land on a plant surface that has been sprayed. Fast-acting, short-residual options are best if you must use pesticides, and try to find the least toxic pesticides possible. Also, spray at night, when pollinators like bees are least likely to be active. Your safest bet is to steer clear of these chemicals altogether.

In summary, here are our tips for starting a pollinator-friendly garden:

  • Plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the year
  • Stick to old-fashioned plants
  • Plant in clumps
  • Use native speciesTwo bees exploring a coneflower
  • Add elements which provide water and shelter
  • Avoid pesticides when possible

Here are some suggestions for pollinator-friendly plants:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Bee balm
  • Coneflower
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnia
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Geranium
  • Shasta daisy
  • Milkweed
  • Spider wort
  • Catmint
  • Anise hyssop
  • Passion flower
  • Hydrangea
  • Azalea
  • Mountain mint
  • Goldenrod
  • Joe-Pye weed
  • Butterfly bush
  • Salvia
  • Dogwood
  • Violet

Beauty in Chaos: The Basics of Cottage Gardening

A cottage garden is a colorful tangle of tumbling flowers and plants that provides a cheerful welcome for visitors. This gardening style is an exercise in creativity and an expression of individuality, with each garden being completely unique. If you’ve ever thought about starting a cottage garden, here are some tips to get you started:

The basics

  • Invest in your soil: Soil quality directly affects plant quality, so make sure soil amendment is one of your first undertakings.
    Soil is filled with organisms that are essential to healthy plant growth, and adding manure or compost is a perfect way to ensure plants have the nutrients they need.IMG_20140802_112704403_1 (1)
  • Consider light conditions: Keep in mind that plants in their ideal conditions are going to thrive and require less upkeep. In general, flowering plants need more sunlight than foliage plants. Have a good idea of how much sun your garden area gets and at what times of the day: is it morning or afternoon sun? Some plants may prefer one or the other.
  • Start with a small area: This allows you to experiment with various plants and slowly build a more intricate garden. You can always move things later if you change your mind.
  • Tall in the back, short in the front: Be sure to position plants with regard to their height so that there is visual interest to pull the eye up and down. Also, take spacing needs into account so that full-grown plants don’t end up crowding each other.

Plant considerations

There are no right or wrong plant choices for this type of garden. Cottage gardens have a soft, romantic feel, which comes from classic flowers. Some traditional cottage garden plant examples are: hollyhocks, daisies, phlox, foxglove, roses and lavender. Don’t overlook fruits, herbs and vegetables as options: not only are they ornamental, but they are a return to the original purpose of cottage gardens, which was to produce food and flowers for a family.

beautifulflowersIt’s important to consider plant textures and shapes. Part of what makes a cottage garden exciting is the artful mixture of a variety of plant shapes and hues. Varying textures and colors give a cottage garden depth and, while at first glance things may seem chaotic, viewers quickly realize that there is a flow and balance in these gardens. Repeating plants or colors is a good way to create harmony and avoid a garden that appears jumbled.

Incorporate objects and barriers

Dress up your cottage garden by creatively using decorative objects, as well as fences and barricades. Fences or barriers can neaten the look of rambling plants and provide support for tall vegetation. When it comes to sculptures or decorations, the more offbeat, the better! Twig structures, lattices, sundials, birdbaths, and fountains are some objects to consider. Natural or worn materials look right at home in cottage gardens, but don’t overdo it: the plants should steal the show.

And the biggest tip for cottage gardening is to just have fun with it! These gardens are ever-evolving, so it’s perfectly okay to keep tweaking plants, placement and objects until you find the combination that speaks to you. Above all: take time to relax and enjoy your garden!

For more gardening tips, be sure to visit the garden center. Our friendly staff is on-hand seven days a week with answers to all your gardening needs.

Residential and Commerical Curb Appeal

The Time to Fertilize is Now!

FEED ME!!!

This is what all of your plants are screaming right now! If you are not on a regular fertilizing schedule, now is an opportune time to start. As we approach the warm weather plants are begging for food because they are about to take off.

WHAT IS N-P-K you say… ?

  • Nitrogen, or Nitrates, are essential components necessary to produce the protein in plants. As a result, plants grown with nitrogen added to the soil are stronger, healthier and bigger.
  • Phosphorus functions as one of the major players in the process of photosynthesis, nutrient transport, and energy transfer. It supports robust and brightly colored blooms.
  • Potassium in most fertilizers is water soluble otherwise can’t be absorbed by the plant roots. Potassium controls the plant cells that use water. Without enough potassium, the cells don’t efficiently use water and the plant is unhealthy. It then becomes vulnerable to disease and heat stress. Potassium also aids the enzymes promoting plant life. Without potassium, the plant cannot cycle the nutrients to feed roots, leaves and fruits.

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