Weather puts gardening in high gear

The weather has been downright gorgeous the last couple of weeks and has allowed us to get more evening and weekend time out in the yard. My wife, Dona, and I have planted more this season than we have in many years and we are having a great time doing it, even though we have been getting a little sore from time to time. I know these physical workouts are good for us. We have really enjoyed gardening together, visiting about all the family, church and world issues in between digging, planting, weeding and arguing over what should go where. She keeps planting more squash, melons, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetable crops while I keep planting more annuals, perennials and tropical foliage for color. This year we have ended up with lots of mixed plantings of vegetables and flowers. It will be interesting to see how it all works out. The plants we got planted earlier are really bursting out with new growth. If you were not able to get most things fertilized before the mild rains this last week you should fertilize now. We are still planting and have a couple more flowerbeds to update and Dona has a bunch more container gardens planned. Some people act like if you aren’t planted by Memorial Day you might as well skip the season but with container grown transplants, shrubs and trees you can plant all summer as long as you will commit to watering the new plants a little more often until they are well established. We are about 2 months into the growing season and have almost 5 months to go until our first hard freeze so well over 2/3 of the growing season is still ahead of us.

If you have not mulched your container gardens and flowerbeds that should be your highest priority. A 1 ½” to 3” layer of cottonseed hulls, pecan hulls, pine straw or one of the many choices in bark mulches will dramatically reduce your watering.  A layer of mulch will reduce weed germination and competition and result in a more consistent soil temperature and produces bigger, healthier plants. Mulching is an organic or sustainable practice that really makes sense.

Be ready to start helping Mother Nature with the watering responsibilities. Most of our plants need regular watering and if you notice crops starting to wilt, turn a dullish grey-green or look stressed you need to start soaking with drip irrigation, sprinklers or with a good old fashioned waterhose.

Enjoy your time in the garden as you plant, fertilize, mulch and then sit back to enjoy the view and eat the fresh harvest.

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