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March 2017 Gardening Tips - Dicentra spectabilis

MARCH 2017


    Mulch or Compost, what's the difference? Watch The Gardening Tutor's video Mulch vs. Compost, before you decide what your garden needs.

    If you have not already applied a layer of mulch to your garden, I encourage you to plan for this task in March. If the soil in your garden is saturated, it’s a good idea to wait until we have a few days break in the rain, to allow the soil to dry a bit before applying mulch. Walking on saturated soil can really compact the soil and compromise the soil structure. When applying mulch in the rainy season, it’s a good idea to use some small pieces (2’ x 2’or so) of plywood or something similar for you to step on as you spread the mulch over the soil surface. Using the boards will help to disperse your weight over the soil in order to lessen the compaction.

    Clients ask what the difference is between mulch and amendment. Basically, mulch is placing a porous blanket of mulch on top of the soil and amendment is feeding the soil by incorporating the amendment into the soil. Mulch can be just about anything that covers the soil including gravel, bark, and even cut up rubber tires but here I am talking about the benefits of compost as mulch. Compost mulch can be used as either an amendment, a top layer of mulch or both.
    Here are some of the benefits of applying a 3” layer of compost mulch (less than a thick 3" layer will allow sunlight to reach the dormant weed seeds instead of smothering them):

    • To suppress and/or control weed growth
    • Feeds the soil (which feeds your plants) so you can use less fertilizer
    • Protects the soil from erosion
    • Attracts earth worms and other beneficial soil organisms
    • Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, gives a sense of cohesion to your garden
    • Keeps soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer
    • Slows water evaporation from the soil so you can water your plants less
    • Keeps soil born disease organisms from splashing up onto your plants

    We are so fortunate in this area that we have local suppliers who mix their own mulch so that we can buy in bulk and save money. A 10’ by 10’ area of your garden spread with a 3” layer of mulch takes approximately one cubic yard of material. There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard of material. When you buy your compost by the 1.5 cubic feet bag that means you need to buy 18 bags to equal a cubic yard. If the compost is $10.00 a bag you will spend $180.00 for a yard of compost compared to buying in bulk.

    March 2017
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Early blooming vines - Hardenbergia, Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine), Clematis armandii, Jasminum polyanthum.
    Checkbox Early blooming shrubs - Lilac, Forsythia, Flowering quince, Rhododendrons, Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'.
    Checkbox Bulbs in pots - Freesia, Anemone, Ranunculus.
    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Prune - Salvias, Clematis Hybrids, Teucrium fruticans, Teucrium chamaedrys.
    Checkbox Check your irrigation systems - Before you apply a layer of mulch to your garden, it's best to do an audit on your irrigation system. Flush all the lines, check that all emitters are working well and fix any leaks. Mary can teach you how to do your spring system check-make your appointment today by calling 707.545.6863
    Checkbox Pest Management - Yellowjacket queens are going to start coming out of hybernation soon. It's time to put up wasp traps if you plan to be entertaining in your garden this summer. Otherwise, wasps can be benificial in the garden. Continue to bait for slugs, snails, earwigs and sowbugs. For aphids on your roses, you can use a strong spray of water to blow them off (hold your hand behind the foliage so it doesn't get shredded by the forceful spray of water).
    Checkbox Trapping - Continue to trap for gophers and moles where needed. Watch The Gardening Tutor video How to Trap Gophers and Moles.
    Checkbox Summer Veggie Garden - If you are planning a summer vegetable garden, work a few inches of compost into the soil once the soil is workable (moist but not soggy). If your compost is not aged allow some time to pass before planting in the amended area.
    Checkbox Fertilize - Roses with E B Stone's Rose and Flower Food. Once we get close to the end of frost season (mid to late April here in Zone 9), fertilize with MaxSea all purpose fertilizer. Continue to fertilize winter annual plants and remove their spent flowers.
    Checkbox Weeding - Pulling weeds takes top priority this month! Make a point to get outside and weed before the weeds go to seed. If time is limited, at least pull the weeds that are growing close to your desired plants; weeds compete (and usually win) for nutrients and water that your plants need.
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.

    The Gardening Tutor February 2017 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.

*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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