Find out how to care for your flowers, plants and garden, both indoor and outdoor, in all types of weather. In addition to providing you with finest plants and flower arrangements to keep or to send, Danielle writes a column (Diary of a Green Thumb) for a weekly publication called The Wave. Here are her published articles, where you'll find lots of answers, ideas and inspirations!
May 12, 2006
The planting season has snuck up on us once again, and we are enjoying increasingly warmer weather and steady temperatures.
Your soil is one of the most important factors in successful landscaping and gardening.
You need to know what makes up your soil to prevent problems.
Some gardens consist of loam, which is considered the ideal planting soil because it has an even amount of large and small particles. This helps to retain and drain the proper amounts of nutrients and water.
Clay has tiny particles that bind together and prevent drainage, and sandy soils lose moisture and nutrients fairly quickly. A soil-testing lab can tell you what kind of soil you have, but there's a simple test that you can do at home. When your soil is wet, shape a small amount into a ball. Loam will form a clump when you squeeze it, and crumble easily. Hard clay forms a ball that won't break up, and sandy soil won't hold together at all.
Many of us find gardening difficult because the sandy beaches that we crave all winter lend the same elements to our soil and make it hard for our "investments" to grow. This limits the amount of plants that can thrive in our gardens.
Rockaway gardeners must learn which plants live well in sandy soil, or we must learn to better our soil for planting.
Sandy soil allows iron, humus and clay to be washed down over time by rain and water. The material hardens and creates a waterproof layer from the deposits called a pan. This barrier is about 12"-15" underground and should be broken down to allow proper drainage, and room for the roots to grow.
Sandy soil with fine granules has the ability to hold water in greater measures than those with coarse particles. Large granules create the inability to hold nutrients such as potash and nitrogen, which promote strong leaf, root and stem growth and encourage flower development.
This is why sandy soil is often infertile. To increase the moisture holding capacity of soil, you should add some topsoil and organic material such as peat, leaf mold or compost. Sandy soil can only be dramatically improved by adding large amounts of organic material year after year because the aerated conditions lead the organic matter to break down rapidly. This is recommended for small to medium size flowerbeds. It can become quite costly to complete an entire yard.
Preparing you soil can become an investment of your money, and more of your time. Adding long-term amendments to your soil will have long-term benefits. The first few years you may not see much of a difference, but over time, the soil should become darker, easier to work with, and require less watering.
A garden should get regular doses of fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are longer lasting than chemical fertilizers, and you can use smaller amounts in the years to come. Chemical fertilizers are less expensive, and work faster, but can actually kill your garden if applied incorrectly. It is best to have a professional fertilize your lawn so that they can calculate the correct measure of nutrients to supplement the deficiencies in your soil.
After trial and error of planting some of your favorite shrubs and flowering plants, you may unexpectedly find some that adapt and thrive in these conditions. The best way to ensure successful planting on sandy soil is to choose plants that naturally grow in sandy soil.
Please feel free to write to us with gardening questions or tips for our readers at: Danielle's Rockaway Florist, 436 Beach 129 Street, Rockaway Park, NY 11694
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