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It's Not Too Late!

Sometimes people feel like they missed the proper planting time and decide it's not worth bothering because they're late. When plants are well cared for, they will easily last through the end of September. Why pass up on having a beautiful patio for the rest of the summer just because you are running a little bit late?  

If you still need plants, I'm still planting! (In fact, I'm still working on the planters at my own house.) Contact me today! 

Tell Your Friends

When your guests admire your lovely container gardens, please refer them to Patio Plants Unlimited. You can earn $25 off your planting service for each referral.

Get Out!

Here's a check-list of yard work to do now:

  • Deadhead flowers as they fade to promote continuous bloom.
  • It's not too late to sow seeds of fast-growing, heat-loving annuals. If you have a spring- flowering bed of tulips or daffodils which is now barren but get lots of sun, you can sow seeds of coreopsis, cosmos, portulaca, zinnia and sunflower directly in the soil. Be sure to keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate
  • Control weeds but avoid using herbicide on hot or windy days. The chemicals in many herbicides volatize at high temperatures and in the sunlight so they should be applied in the early morning or in the evening.
  • Fertilize your roses. After the first flush of flowers has started to fade, use a fertilizer labeled for roses - a good mix would read 5-10-5 on the label. Sprinkle the recommended amount on the soil, gently rake it in and then water thoroughly.

"We both work a lot and we travel a lot so letting Patio Plants Unlimited do the "creating" for us is the perfect solution.  We don't have the time to go to the nursery, select the plants, plant them and care for them - at least not well!!!  In the past, our plants in this dry climate just died from our neglect or because we chose the wrong plants.

With Stephanie's help and the self-watering and automatic fertilizing system, we have colorful, healthy and beautiful plants all summer long!"

Mike & Candace,

Soil in Raised Beds

The last two newsletters have been on the subject of soils - in early May it was an overview of Soil Science and a couple of weeks ago I explained soil-less potting soil. There is just one more topic I feel I must address: soil in the raised bed. Because our Colorado soils are such heavy clay which can be hard to amend, we often turn to container gardening and gardening with raised beds. Raised beds offer many benefits including the ability to import some good top soil.

Building a new raised bed can be quite a project. The first step is to remove the existing turf grass (or other plants) and turn up the soil. Sometimes we are tempted to skip this step - "free" advice I read on the internet suggests placing layers of newspapers or cardboard over the grass then piling new topsoil on top and you're ready to start your new garden in less than an hour.

This is not good advice in our area! Although the newspaper or cardboard will kill the grass (a good herbicide-free method) and it will decompose relatively quickly, this method creates a watering problem.

Let's simplify... when you were a kid playing in the sandbox, you knew wet sand makes better sand castles! Remember how when you would pour a bucket of water on the sand, the sand absorbs the water in just a few minutes - but the sand in the sandbox dried out almost everyday. It was also fun to play in the mud puddles! Around here, a good mud puddle would be wet and muddy for days. Unlike the sand, when you pour a bucket of water on the ground, the water sits on top and doesn't absorb down quickly. 

This explains how water and soil structure interact. The sand has large pore space so water moves through and out of the sand quickly. The native soil in our area has a lot of clay which has very small pore space - water moves through it slowly.

When you build a raised bed by layering up the cardboard or newspaper without turning the existing soil, you've created a soil texture interface - a line in the soil where there is an abrupt change in the soil pore space. So the water will move down through the top soil layer (primarily large pore space) then when it gets to the undisturbed clay and/or compacted soil layer (primarily small pore space) the water accumulates in the soil just above the interface. This is called a perched water table and it drowns your plants.

It seems like more work, but when constructing a raised bed it is important to turn the existing soil 8-10 inches deep. Then add a layer of your new topsoil, turn the soil under again and then build up your new bed. This helps avoid the perched water table problem and gives your plants good, deep soil for growth.

If you missed the previous two newsletters on the subject of soil, they’re available on my website.
If you'd like to read more about soil science, check out this GardenNotes publication from the CSU Extension Office.

Which is Better?

I am often asked if it wouldn't be better to just get hanging baskets from  the local nursery or discount store. My response is that the full-grown baskets will not last as long as the baskets I plant. To prove my point, this year follow along with the pictures of my unscientific experiment: 
Big Box Logo
As you can see in the picture below, the baskets are hanging side-by-side so there will be no difference in sun or wind exposure. The baskets are exactly the same - 12" diameter plastic pots. Both are plugged into my drip irrigation and I am trying to treat them equally. My basket is filled with the some color scheme: red, white and purple. The "big-box store" plant is on the left and the Patio Plants Unlimited basket is on the right.
June Baskets
Right now, both baskets are pretty - the plants in the big-box store basket on the left are longer and they are still blooming - although it's only red and white - no purple. Also, the leaves are turning yellow. The plants in my basket on the right have many more flowers and are greener even if they are shorter.

I'm quite proud of my basket it performing, but I'll let you be the judge of which is better this month.

If you have any questions about your plants or irrigation system, please contact me. I sincerely hope your patio is your own special haven.

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808