GARDENS FOR NATURE AND YOU
Jody’s Garden Services
Finally, water your garden & then grab a handful of soil & squeeze it. If it sticks together in a solid lump, you've got clay soil, which retains moisture & nutrients. Pick plants that can tolerate damp conditions in winter and dry in summer.
If the soil crumbles, that's sandy soil, which drains well & often lacks essential nutrients, so choose plants that prefer their roots in dry conditions.
If your soil is somewhere between lumpy & crumbly, you're looking at loam, which is a happy medium that most plants will be very content with.
All these factors will impact on which plants will thrive in your garden. It's important to assess all the conditions & pick the right plants for the right location. Failure to do so will result in hard work, poorly plants & ultimately a garden not looking its best. Pick the right plants & nature will be working with you all the way.
Don't give up hope if you really want a plant that doesn't suit your garden, you can always grow them in pots where you can control the soil type.
Work that can be done in the garden this month:
Keep hedges trimmed that have not been done already.
Potatoes that are growing should be earthed up.
Begins regular sowings of vegetables and salad crops
Treat established lawns with moss killer.
Plant out beans and peas and transplant brassicas.
Ponds will need clearing of winter debris. Duck weed and blue/green algae will be growing fast and need removing.
Plant out dahlia tubers.
Sow hardy annuals in prepared beds where they are to flower.
Weed and mulch established borders.
Prune hedges and shrubs that have finished flowering.
Understanding your soil is fundamental to growing the right plants in your garden & potentially saving you a lot of money, time & effort over the coming years. All plants have evolved in their niches & specialising to be as successful as possible in a certain type of habitat. It's what's enabled them to survive. It's not rocket science to understand that a tropical plant won't last long in a baked dry, desert, or that a lovely Alpine plant will not survive in a bog garden. Take them out of their preferred environment & they quickly feel the effects, at best struggling other times dying very quickly.
Your garden too has it's own climate & conditions, not to mention soil type, so picking the wrong plants will only lead to a poor looking garden. So, what to do?
Firstly, pick up a soil testing kit from the garden centre - they're only a couple of pounds & need no scientific experience. Simply mix up some rain water with a sample of soil, add a drop from the supplied dropper of chemical reactor & shake. Within a few moments you'll be able to see the water colour change & you just need to match the colour to the colour chart supplied with the testing kit. It will tell you instantly if your soil is acidic, alkaline or somewhere in between. This is invaluable. If you're looking at an alkaline soil, save your money on and don't buy acid loving plants - you can easily tell as garden centres label plants as acid lovers or alkaline suitable.
Next, you should assess your gardens local climate - not the weather forecast, just what impacts on your garden.
Which direction does it face? - North, East, South or West? This will indicate the amount of sunlight your garden (or sections of it) receive.
Does it get strong winds? From which angle?
Are parts of the garden in constant shade?
Do areas suffer from excess dampness, or dry out quickly?
This is the month when many gardeners feel the warmth of the sun and hear the call to start work in their garden. But before you all get digging, take a moment to get to know what kind of garden you have. So here is the technical bit.