5 Reasons to Mulch Your Garden This Spring

5 Reasons to Mulch Your Garden, the Next Step to Protecting Your Investment:

After you finish planting this spring, be sure to mulch everything with 3 inches of shredded bark mulch.  So you ask, “Why mulch?”  Here’s why:

  1. Mulching reduces erosion. Don’t let the wind or rain blow or wash away all the lovely top soil you just spent your hard earned dollars on to make your garden grow!
  2. Mulching reduces plant disease.
  3. Mulching reduces the amount of watering you will have to do.
  4. Mulching reduces weed populations.
  5. Mulch looks a heck of a lot nicer than bare soil, and is much easier to work with if you want to rearrange plants later on.
  6. Mulch prevents soil from splattering up on your siding during a hard rain.

Find out if your city has a compost facility. You can usually get great deals on mulch and compost. In Davenport, Iowa, we can get a truckload of shredded bark mulch for $30! Lots cheaper than spending $3 to $4 per bag, eh? Compost only costs us about $15 per truckload. We are even able to have it delivered to our home, for a fee. So don’t forget to find out. You could save a ton of money.

Ultimate Guide for How to Acclimate Your Seedlings to the Outdoors

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Set your trays out in a protected area where you won’t forget about them.

Why is it important for seedlings to be exposed to the outdoors?

  • The air movement and light is important for development of strong stems, promoting leaf growth, and healthy root growth
  • Also important for preventing root rot, disease, and mold
  • If weather does not allow for setting your seedlings outside, you can also set them in a sunny window with a circulating fan set on low about 5 feet away from the trays.
  • Remember to rotate the trays so your seedlings will not grow crookedly as they reach for sunlight.

Why is it important to move seedlings outside gradually?

  • Young seedlings that have been started indoors, are very sensitive to extremes in light, temperature, moisture, and wind.
  • Too much shock early on can cause your seedlings to be stressed, which makes them more prone to diseases, and vulnerable to insects, all of which can cause stunting, rot, or death.
  • Introducing seedlings for limited amounts of time to the outdoors during gentle conditions will prepare them for the tougher days ahead, without killing them before they are big enough to fend for themselves.

Important things to remember

We water our seedlings FIRST THING in the morning right when we set them out.
  • Water seedlings before you set them outside for a few hours
  • Why? Pouring cold water on hot seedlings will shock and damage their delicate leaves.
  • DO NOT expose seedlings to extremes of any kind…temps, winds, water pressure, etc.
  • DO NOT set seedlings outside with a clear dome or lid on them if in any sunshine….they will literally, cook if it gets too warm! Believe me, I killed a whole tray of tomato seedlings once, because I forgot to take the dome off! I cried. A LOT.
  • DO NOT set seedling trays under a gutter or roof area where water will come crashing down as it runs off. It will blast your seedlings and …be very bad.

How Long Should Seedlings be Outside?

  • Day 1 for 1-2 hours
  • Day 2 -5 for up to 3 hours if it’s calm out
  • Try to continue every day if weather allows until your area is past it’s frost free date.

The Location: Where should I put my seedlings?

  • Find a sunny spot that is a place you pass by often.
  • Make sure your seedlings will be protected from harsh winds, but still get nice gentle air movement.
  • If wind is above 10 mph, you could place your seedling trays in a plastic tub NO LID to block the wind.

What is the best Temperature for seedlings to grow at?

  • Wait until temps are at least 50 degrees before placing tender seedlings outside for the first time.
  • Ideal temperatures for your seedlings would be 60-70 degrees depending on plant species.
How to make your own plant labels. Recycle a plastic cup by cutting into tapered strips that you can stick into the soil.

The Light: How much light do my seedlings need?

  • Bright, indirect sunlight (for seedlings that take full sun) (shade or part shade for shade plants)
  • Our seedling trays are sitting on our south facing front stoop in full sun with a little breeze.
  • It is south facing and on a warm day, this spot might be too hot
  • Since it’s only 48 degrees and there is a slight breeze, the bright sunshine and breeze will even out the temperature to one that will work well for our seedlings.

How Much Wind Should My Seedlings Get?

  • Less than 10 miles per hour
  • Think of it this way….just enough to make them wiggle back and forth a little bit!
  • It’s best to have a fan on them after they germinate while they are inside
  • This will make their first trip outdoors less of a shock!

How Long Should Seedlings be Outside?

  • Day 1 for 1-2 hours
  • Day 2 -5 for up to 3 hours if it’s calm out
  • Try to continue every day if weather allows

Why is it important for seedlings to be exposed to the outdoors?

  • The air movement and light is important for development of strong stems, promoting leaf growth, and healthy root growth
  • Also important for preventing root rot and disease
  • If weather does not allow for setting your seedlings outside, you can also set them in a sunny window with a circulating fan set on low about 5 feet away from the trays.
  • Remember to rotate the trays so your seedlings will not grow crookedly as they reach for sunlight.

When is the Best Time to Put Down Crab Grass Preventer?

Photo by LExie Blessing on Pexels.com

According to my horticulturist husband, the answer is…..”When the Forsythias are in bloom!”

What is a Forsythia Bush?

Phenology is the study of recurring events in the life cycle of different species and learning how such events are interrelated throughout that species and other species.

Forsythias reach full bloom when soil temps get up to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Coincidentally, Crab Grass seeds also germinate when the soil temps are at 55degrees Fahrenheit!

Therefore, those yellow flowers blooming on forsythia bushes as a phenological symbol, or nature signal, telling you, “Hey! It’s time to throw down some Crab Grass preventer!”

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How to Design and Prepare Your Own Garden For Planting

Zone 4 Annuals and Perennials in a Boarder Garden
Zone 4 Annuals and Perennials in a Boarder Garden

Creating a Garden Border:

When should I start in the spring?

  1. You can start planning indoors on paper in January
  2. Outdoor work can begin as early as March in the Midwest, or as soon as the ground is thawed.  The layout work can be done as long as there’s no snow on the ground so you can see what you are doing.
  3. Planting is best to be done in the spring for Herbaceous Perennials.  Trees and shrubs can be planted in the spring, or fall for the best success rate.  You can still plant in the summer, but you have to be religious about remembering to water to protect your green investments!

10 Steps to Getting That Garden Started:

  1. Be sure to have all your utility lines flagged before you start!
  2. Lay out the flower bed with a garden hose to achieve the shape.
  3. Then spray Roundup on the grass now to kill it off. Or, if you don’t want to mess w/Roundup, lay out the bed w/garden hose…spraypaint the border,
  4. Rent a sod cutter from Home Depot and cut the sod.   It only costs about $50 for the whole day, and will save you a lot of time from picking up little chunks of sod out of the flower bed later on.
  5.  Roll sod into rolls.
  6.  Get a tiller and break up the soil.  Till down 6-8 inches deep.
  7. Add the 4 inches of black compost.
  8. Add Turfus if you have poorly drained soil.  If it is really poorly drained, you may want to consider adding a drainage tile.
  9. Till it in compost down 6-8 inches.
  10.  If you are doing this in the fall, plant any fall bulbs you would like, and let your new garden over winter, and you will be totally ready to plant in April!

How to Dry Sage from Your Garden: Part III.

How to dry sage from your garden.
How to dry sage from your garden.
Learn how and where to make the proper cuts when harvesting sage to dry for bouquets or bundles.

Harvesting Sage for Dried Herb Bouquets Part I.

How to dry sage from your garden.
How to dry sage from your garden.
Learn how and where to make the proper cuts when harvesting sage to dry for bouquets or bundles.

 

In this short tutorial, learn how  and where to cut stems for making herb bundles and bouquets for drying, that you can later use this winter in the kitchen! Sage leaves can be used fresh or dried in the kitchen, and add a lovely savory flavor to roasted chicken, pork chops, and sausage.

Dried sage can be a beautiful addition to dried herb bouquets, and…to correct myself, from what I stated in the video, it could also be used in fresh bouquets, as long as the lower leaves are removed from the parts of the stem that will be under water in the vase.

How to Make a Dried Herb Bouquet Using Sage from Your Garden: Part II.

How to dry sage from your garden.
How to dry sage from your garden.
Learn how and where to make the proper cuts when harvesting sage to dry for bouquets or bundles.

This short video demonstrates how to bundle sage stems into a bouquet that can be hung to dry and later used in dried arrangements, wreaths, or for cooking savory meals.

 

Houseplants: 8 Things to Remember When Bringing Them Indoors For the Winter