On a recent Wednesday at the Gardening at Lunch Series, I did a program on the dos and don'ts of gardening.
I spent a couple of weeks thinking about what I would cover at this program. Then, it hit me; why not do my top 10 list of dos and don'ts? It works for David Letterman.
So here are my top 10 dos and don'ts of gardening. Most of these will be familiar to you, but you might wonder how others got on the list.
Remember, these are my thoughts on the top 10, but you might have others that would fit into your top 10. So, let's get started:
No. 10: Plant at the right time. This seems elementary, but it's surprising how often plants are put in at the wrong time. The first thing that comes to mind is when I recently planted my tomatoes earlier than I normally plant them, and had to replant them because of the freeze.
The best time to plant shrubs and trees are in the fall and early winter, so they can establish a root system before the heat of the summer.
Plant summer annuals after the last chance of frost. Warm-season turf grasses, such as Bermuda and centipede, need to be planted in early May. Cool season grasses, such as rye grass, need to be planted in October.
No. 9: Plant properly. When planting a shrub or a tree, be sure to dig a planting hole that is two times to four times larger than the root ball of the plant. Don't plant too deep. The root ball of the plant needs to be level with the top of the soil or slightly above it.
When planting bare root plants, look for the soil line on the plant and plant at that depth.
When planting trees, make an earthen berm around them to hold water around the root system. After four to six weeks this berm should be removed. Pull the dirt away from the tree so soil isn't added on top of the root system.
No. 8: Proper plant selection. Choose plants that adapt to our area. A good plant book will show the plant zone you live in. We are in plant zone 7A or 8B.
Choose the plant for the conditions in which it will be placed. Is the area in full sun, partial shade, full shade, a wet area or a dry area?
When choosing plants, put items that have the same water needs in the same irrigation zone.
No. 7: Don't overfertilize. Overfertilization can harm plants by increasing the salt levels around the roots. This will damage the root system and cause the plant to die. When applying foliar fertilizers make sure that the concentration of fertilizer isn't too strong or it can burn the leaves.
Slow release and organic fertilizers are better choices for most plants. They give the plants the nutrients they need during a longer period and don't stress the plants as much.
Young plants need to be fertilized more than older plants. Younger plants that are growing fast need more nutrients. They will fill in the area faster.
Older plants that have reached full size can be fertilized less often. It reduces the amount of maintenance, such as pruning, when they are fertilized less. There are plants in my yard that have reached the size that I want them to be, and I fertilize them every two years.
No. 6: Proper pruning. There is a right time and a wrong time to prune plants. Evergreen shrubs can be pruned during the growing season. Severe pruning should be done during the last of February to early March, but the shrubs can be trimmed any time during the growing season. All pruning should be finished by the end of August. This will give the growth that will emerge time to harden off for the winter.
Another pruning rule for flowering plants is that if it blooms in the spring, the plant should be pruned after it finishes flowering. An example of this is azaleas. If the plant flowers in the summer, it should be pruned in early spring. Crape myrtle is an example of this type of plant.
There are exceptions to this rule.
Well, I ran out of space for all 10 of the dos and don'ts. So you will need to read next week for Nos. 1-5.
Columbia County Extension Agent Charles Phillips can be reached at (706) 868-3413 or by e-mail at email@example.com. The Extension Web address is www.ugaextension.com/columbia.
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