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It's Planting Time!

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous lately and we are all excited to get our container gardens started. My planting schedule starts May 14. Just as you wouldn't remove a baby chick from the incubator early, you don't want to remove your young plants from the nursery too soon either. A couple more weeks of growing time in the nursery can make all the difference. Please be patient as we wait for the plants to mature and the weather to be more certain.

"Thank you" to everyone who has called to schedule your spring planting! If you still need to get scheduled, 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:

  • Plant and divide perennials. The soil has warmed up and spring is a great time for planting perennials and shrubs.
  • Refresh mulch. New mulch not only makes the area look pretty, it also helps conserve moisture over the summer and controls weeds.
  • Control weeds. As with all sorts of pests, try to remove them when they are small and before they spread.
  • Turn and water the compost pile.
  • Remove spent tulip and daffodil flowers, but allow the leaves to turn yellow before removing.
  • Transplant your vegetable seedlings after the 15th. Plant seeds for beans, cucumbers and summer squash directly in the garden. 

"Every summer I spent a LOT of money decorating my frequently used back porch with plants. They looked great...for a few weeks. Last summer I discovered Stephanie and her wonderful automatic drip irrigation system. What a beautiful porch I had ALL summer long.

Stephanie's porch designs are a work of art!!! I can't wait for her to replant my pots this spring."


--Margy,
Loveland

What's in Your Soil?

In the gardening realm, we spend a lot of time discussing plant choices, pests, diseases and other horticultural practices, but an experienced gardener knows the foundation to a good garden is good soil. The soil is so important it has become its own science - you can even get a Ph.D. in Soil Science! This is a brief, VERY SIMPLIFIED discussion on soil classification, texture, structure and fertility. 

Soil Tilth is the soil's general suitability to support plant life. Soil tilth is described with the not-so-technical terms "good" or "poor" or something in between. Tilth is the how the texture, structure, fertility and living soil organisms work together in the ecosystem.

Soil Texture refers to the particles in the soil and their relative concentration. The particles are described as sand, silt or clay, sand being the largest particles and clay the smallest. When you have a nice cross-section of all particle types, its called loam. Depending on the percentage of each type of particle, the soil will be described as "sandy clay" or "silt loam" or even "silty clay loam." Here in Northern Colorado, our soil is generally described as clay or heavy clay.

Soil Structure describes how the various particles fit together. 
Sand, silt, and clay particles bond together creating aggregates (clusters of particles) which then creates pore spaces (open space) of various sizes. Ideally, soil should have a combination of large and small pore space - the small pore space will hold water and the larger pore space allows for good water movement and air flow. In fine-textured clay and/or compacted soils, a lack of large pore spaces restricts water and air movement. On the other hand, sandy soils which lack small pore space do not hold water and nutrients well. In this area, our clay soil retains water well but limited air space makes it difficult for plant roots to expand.

Soil Fertility is determined by the amount of plant-available nutrients and minerals. This includes elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and minerals such as iron, zinc and copper. Soil which is fertile for plants is also fertile to many soil organisms including earth worms, sowbugs (a.k.a. roly-polies), millipedes and thousands of bacteria and fungi. Sometimes soil that is fertile will still have poor tilth because of texture and structure. Soil fertility varies greatly from one location to another. This is where soil tests are especially helpful.

Now that you have this background in soil science, what can you do with it? The most important lesson to be learned here is that just adding fertilizer may not improve your garden or lawn. Soil texture and structure can only be altered by routinely adding compost or organic matter to the soil. Improvement may not be obvious for several years. A single large application of organic matter will not be enough.  As the organic content increases, earthworms and soil microorganisms become more active, which over time improves soil tilth. Each spring and possibly in the fall as well, you can turn 2"-3" of well aged compost into your soil.

If you're really interested and would like more detailed information, check out this GardenNotes publication from the CSU Extension Office. 

I am often frustrated with this area's heavy clay soil and I delight in container gardening. I bring in high quality potting soil for all my container gardens. In fact, the potting soil I use is not soil at all -- it is a "soil-less growing medium." If that term confuses you, watch for my next newsletter when I'll explain it in further detail!
 


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As always, if there is anything I can do to make your patio more enjoyable, please let me know!

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808
Stephanie@patioplantsunlimited.com
www.patioplantsunlimited.com