Most of you know that 2020 was a heroic year in the gardening world. Many new friends joined us in the garden to learn new ways to provide for families, as well as taking a break from isolating ourselves because of the pandemic.
This seems a good time to revisit some garden basics as we enjoy the lovely month of May. [For more details on gardening, kindly see my website: www.ptsgarden.com.]
Study the light patterns in your garden at different times throughout the day. Where are the shady spots? Sunny spots? Where does the morning light show first? Choose plants whose light requirements fit those spots. For example, because a hosta requires shade, the hosta will do fine with morning light. However, strong afternoon sunlight might quickly burn the leaves of the plant. Follow Mother Nature’s light patterns, and you will do fine.
Part of the beauty of plants is the variation in their leaf patterns. Delphiniums are one of my favorites. Not only do delphiniums have various shades of blue, purple and white, they also have different leaves, which creates interest in the bed. I showcase my cosmos plants in my cottage garden, largely because their feathery leaves and enchanting flowers make one want to linger.
“It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a plant!” Take a look above the trees and bushes in your yard. Notice the different heights of the trees, which makes for a lovely silhouette. Pay attention to the heights of flowers. It seems obvious, but put your tallest plants in the back of the bed, then second tallest, and so on. Put your shortest plants in front. This will allow you to enjoy all of the plants as well as make for a more interesting garden.
You know you’ve become a gardener when you call dirt by its proper name, ‘soil’. Soil is the gardening god and nothing will change that part. Depending on where you live, your soil may be sandy, or clay-like, rocky or deep black. And that soil (along with which planting zone you reside in) will determine what plants will fit for you, and what time of year you can plant. If you have heavy clay soil, add compost to it to make it more workable. The key is this:
Good drainage = good soil = healthy root systems = healthy plants
If your plant’s directions say ‘average water’, then don’t wait for it to dry out before watering again. Plants that are over watered my show wilted leaves or brown-edged leaves.
One of my favorite looks in a flower garden is to ‘crowd’ the flowers enough to make them look even fuller and richer. A cottage garden, which often has masses of different flowers where there is no beginning or end. This is part of their charm. Crowded flowers are not haphazardly placed, rather, carefully orchestrated, so there is no interruption in the beauty.
Giving Plants a ‘Haircut’
Many perennials and shrubs love to be cut back. Directions on how much to cut back and the time to cut back will be given on the plant tag. Cutting back, or giving them a ‘haircut’, helps to ensure that plants will not grow ‘out of control’ and also forces the plant to put out new growth.
Want your annuals and perennials to look as good at the end of the season as they do at the beginning of the season? Remove or cut back the spent blooms, which keeps the plant looking pretty and encourages them to bloom over a longer period of time.
Weeding flower beds is one of the grunge jobs of the garden. But it is necessary to keep the weeds under control. I have found a handy dandy tool that helps to retrieve the root of the weed and pull it out of the ground. It is very easy to have the weeds overtake a flower bed, in essence, suffocating the flowers out. Do weeding a little bit at a time, and think of this each time a weed is removed “now my flowers can breathe easier”.
Protect your plants.
There is no shortage of rabbits, raccoons, and deer in Iowa. The best way to protect your plants from critters is with the Plant Patron®, the nontoxic, humane way to deter animals. Buy your Plant Patron® at www.ptsgarden.com
Visit your Garden every day…if only for a short while.
Use the garden as a reflective time, setting aside your cares and worries…to enjoy the flowers. You may see little surprises in the garden: a plant you thought dead is springing to life; a spider has constructed a beautiful web; the butterflies are happily moving from one flower to another. And you may just see a hummingbird.
Let’s Plant On together.
Tips for Starting Your Spring Garden Off Strong
Iowa is Zone 5
Cloudy, cold, or snowy days seem endless in Iowa sometimes. We live in a garden planning zone of 5, which means our final freeze date may be as late as May 15. The weather will warm and soon grass will turn green, and bulbs will pop with color. And the rhubarb will sprout.
Research: The ‘Dirt’ on Gardening
The spring and summer of 2020 saw homeowners gardening in record numbers. A new survey released in December 2020 shows gardeners of all ages will be back digging in the dirt in 2021. The research, conducted by Axiom Marketing, a Minneapolis based firm, found that 86 percent of homeowners plan to continue gardening in 2021. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed say they will plant about the same as last year, with 47 percent saying they will be planting more and expanding their garden spaces next season.
Spring Has Arrived
As we anticipate 2021 gardens, keep in mind that the pandemic saw new gardeners joining the ranks, as people became interested in growing more of their own food. Buy your seedings and seeds early so to not miss out on your favorite bulbs, seeds, or transplants.
Early Spring Garden Tasks
While we wait for nature to warm up, there are many tasks one can do which will make your 2021 gardening season more productive and fruitful.
-Prep your tools. Make sure your trowels, garden spades and other garden tools are ‘at the ready’. Remove all signs of soil from the tool (without using water). Apply a light coat of protective oil on them, then wipe off gently with a paper towel. For an added touch, smooth a bit of baby oil on the wooden handles. This will nourish and moisturize the wood, making them softer to the touch.
-Plan out your garden. Consider the height and width of the plants you are planning to add. Much of the interest in gardens is not only the beauty of the flowers, but also the difference in leaves and heights of the plants.
-Gently clean winter leaves and debris out of flower beds with a leaf rake. Take caution to not disturb the surface root systems/leaves of the newly emerging plants.
-Cut back ornamental grasses and perennial plants. This will allow the energy of the plant to go to the root system, resulting in a stronger plant.
-Prepare the soil. Always work the soil when it is not wet. A good soil is loamy, slightly moist and falls apart when held in your hand. I always add a good bit of rich compost when planting new plants.
-Buy healthy transplants. The root systems of your new plants should look strong and healthy. If it is going to be a few days before you can plant, set the plants in a bucket of water that completely covers the root system. Even with that, try to plant within a week.
-Organize your seed packets. This seems like a mundane task, but it is exciting to plan which seeds will go in which beds. This task also makes the planting easier because you’ll know where the seed need to go.
The Well-Mannered Workhorse of the Garden
-Protect your plants. There is no shortage of rabbits, raccoons, and deer in Iowa. The best way to protect your plants from critters is with the Plant Patron®, the nontoxic, humane way to deter animals. Buy your Plant Patron® at www.ptsgarden.com
Critter Woes and a Way to Solve Them Humanely
The Plant Patron®:
-Protects your plant from the beginning, saving time, energy, money, frustration (re: re-planting or cost of replacing)
-While working hard, the device is like a piece of artwork for your garden
-Instant protection: low tech, high maintenance, high effectiveness
I like to call the Plant Patron® the ‘well-mannered workhorse of the garden’. It works for you quietly, consistently, effectively and securely, in a very nice way. To see the Plant Patron® in action, please visit the website: www.ptsgarden.com.
We once safely caught a forty-pound raccoon who was damaging my plants with wild abandon. The raccoon was transported to a new home some fifteen miles away. I hope the raccoon is happy in his new home. My plants, now protected by the Plant Patron®, are extremely happy. Which makes me happy.
Let’s Plant On together.
View video here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=plant+patron
Prepare to plant by digging a hole in the soil roughly twice the size of the new plant’s root system. You can set you new plant (with seedling pot still on it) into the hole to do a rough practice measure. The completed hole should be 3-4 inches wider than the pot, and 2-3 inches from the top soil surface.
Once your new hole is dug, place a root system enhancer in the bottom of the hole.
Remove your new plant from its grow pot by gently tapping the sides of the pot. Gently, yet firmly remove the plant, taking care to not damage any new growth on the plant.
If the plant appears to be root bound (the root system will appear tightly enmeshed), gently loosen or cut away the bottom part of the roots. A fresh cut on the roots will provide motivation and a ‘fresh start’ for the root system, resulting in a stronger plant.
Place the plant into the prepared hole, gently spreading out the root system in all directions so that none of the roots are bent or crossing over one another.
Place soil (or a nice composting material) into the hole to fill it. Spread the soil evenly around the root system of the plant. Be sure to take every effort to eliminate any air holes around the individual roots. Think of this as a nice blanket for the roots.
Fill the hole with soil until the soil amount is ground level. Mound a bit of extra soil in a ‘rim’ circling the plant. This will allow the water to distribute evenly to the full circumference of the newly planted root system.
A good, healthy root system means beautiful flowers are on their way.
Give your new plant a soft sprinkling of water. Give a good soak, but don’t drown. The soil should absorb the water, but no water should be standing on top of the soil.
Keep the new planted evenly watered for the first 2-3 weeks. Be consistent and calculated about your watering: if you water at 9 AM on Tuesdays and Fridays, then always water at those same times. Your new plant is paying attention.
Protect all of your hard work and your investment in the plant by placing a Plant Patron™ over your newly planted flower. The Plant Patron™ will protect your plant from critters in a humane and effective way. Your new plant will not be dug up, chewed off, or otherwise harmed with the Plant Patron™ protecting it. The most important time for the new plant is the first 2-3 weeks, while the root system is getting established in its new home.
You may water your new plant through the fun opening at the top of the Plant Patron™. Hold the sprinkler hose over the opening of the Plant Patron™. The gentle water will distribute directly to the root system of the plant, ensuring proper hydration of the plant in its new life.
When the new plant shoots a new growth, you will know that your careful planting and watering has paid off.
Let’s #planton together.
The spring and summer of 2020 saw homeowners gardening in record numbers. A new survey released today shows gardeners of all ages will be back digging in the dirt in 2021. The research, conducted by Axiom Marketing, a Minneapolis based firm, found that 86 percent of homeowners plan to continue gardening in 2021. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed say they will plant about the same as last year, with 47 percent saying they will be planting more and expanding their garden spaces next season.
Source: Axiom Marketing news release
Hope you are doing well and that your garden has given you much joy this year.
Welcome to my garden blog. Within the blog, I’ll be writing about my seven gardens and how I take care of them. As a master gardener of 35 years, I’m exacting and particular about the gardens I tend. I’m hoping there will be some good ideas within the blog that you can incorporate within your own garden.
The first big news from PT’s Garden: I have discovered a secret to protecting my flowers from critters who want to damage the plants. Now it is time to share the exciting news with you:
Drum roll, please.
The official launch of the Plant Patron®: 15 November 2020
If you are reading this blog, then the new website has launched successfully…introducing The Plant Patron™.
The Plant Patron®: the new environmentally safe and humane way to protect your flowers, bushes and other valuable plants.
I invented the Plant Patron® because I grew tired of having my precious plants damaged by rabbits and other wild critters. We all know a big part of the success of a plant is the hole in which the plant is placed. After painstakingly digging a nice hole to fit the plant, applying root care solution, then finally placing the plant into the new hole, it is an amazing feeling to place the soil around the new plant roots, then giving the plant a good drink of water. (Make sure there are no air pockets around you root system.)
The following morning, there are few things more frustrating and angering, than checking on your new planting, only to discover the plant has been dug up by a wild animal. The roots you have carefully placed…are upside down, facing the sky. The hole you spent so much time and effort digging out…is empty.
Make no mistake. When a newly plant is forcefully disturbed in this way, it places stress on the young root system. If you can replant within hours, often the plant can be saved. If you cannot get to the plant right away, it places the plant under more stress. If you cannot replant for a few days, place the plant in a bucket of water. Be sure that only the root system is covered with tepid water. The plant should be fine this way for a few days. As soon as you can get the plant back to the soil, the better it is for the survival of the plant.
Unfortunately, I’ve had this very thing happen many times. I grew so frustrated with having to replant over and over again, that something different had to be done.
The answer: Plant Patron®.
Our brand is the only plant protection device that humanely protects plants, while allowing them to grow through and withstand environmental elements for many years.
An early version of the Plant Patron® has been used in my gardens for thirty-five years. After moving to the country in 2013, we learned the reality of living within nature. Living the country life brings with it all of the wild animals that also live in the rural setting: rabbits, skunks, deer, raccoons. We even spotted a rare fisher this past summer.
One caveat of living in the country is respecting the animals who were here before us. I didn’t want to harm the wild animals, but I also did not want them damaging my plants and flowers.
Hence, Plant Patron® was born. Since testing the Plant Patron® throughout my gardens, I’ve not had one plant damaged by wild animals. I have different colors of Plant Patron® in different beds, which helps to remind me of where different plants are bedded.
With the Plant Patron™ in place, I have peace of mind that my plants will live safely in their new home in the soil until morning, allowing the root system to begin to establish itself, resulting in a strong, beautiful plant. Each additional day the root system is protected in the soil…adds to the overall strength and longevity of the plant.
Throughout this website (www.ptsgarden.com), you will see how the Plant Patron™ works. All of the flowers pictured on the website are my own gardens. Many of the flowers look the way they do because they were protected from the beginning by the early version of The Plant Patron®.
My precious hubby will tell you that he is relieved to see me come in from gardening and not be upset that my plants were damaged.
The Plant Patron® is a new version of plant protection—in a word, a new ‘mousetrap for the garden’.
I like to call the Plant Patron® the ‘well-mannered workhorse of the garden’. It works for you quietly, consistently, effectively and securely, in a very nice way.
Want to surprise the special gardener on your list? The Plant Patron® is a perfect gift, in their favorite color(s).
Click ‘Order Now’ at the top of the website page to place your order today.
The Plant Patron® is proudly made in the USA of heavy gauge steel, powdered coated in your favorite color for long lasting service to your garden.
You are invited to send us photos of your garden using the Plant Patron® for possible use on the website. Send photos to: email@example.com
Critter Woes and a Way to Solve Them Humanely
Thank you very much. Happy Gardening to you.
Garden tasks: Fall
We live in the Midwest, where the weather can turn on a dime. We had Deracho in August (which flattened many of my beds and destroyed our patio furniture), record snow in October, then November dawned with 70-degree temperatures.
With the variability in weather, tending the gardens becomes a test of patience and perseverance. I always winterize my gardens in the fall, which makes them easier to open up in the spring. If one is lucky enough to catch a warm, later summer day, this is even better.
Following are some Fall Garden Tasks for you to consider:
Cut back your perennials. This will allow more of the energy of the plant to go to the root system, strengthening the plant overall. I cut back my coneflowers to about four inches, then place the seeded heads in the meadow. Over the years the seed heads in the meadow have naturalized and bloomed the following spring. Seeing the coneflowers swaying in the breeze of the meadow is a wonderful sight.
Becky Daisies: trim back to 5-6 inches. The Becky’s sturdy stems are very attractive with a snow covering. By trimming them back, the root system will allow the Becky to spread out in its growth, looking towards a cheerful daisy bouquet in summer.
Roses: trim back roses to the main canes. Cover with a Plant Patron® to give the rose an artful look for winter.
Daylilies: remove the spent stems of the daylily. When it is time, the stem will be brown and should pull easily out of the flower. If the stem does not pull out easily, then it needs more time to do its work before being removed. Let the leaves of the daylily die down naturally. Leave them in place, providing a nice ‘blanket’ for the plant over the winter months.
Hostas: once the beautiful hosta flowers have completed their blooming, the sturdy stem is still in place. For fall cleanup, cut the stem below the line of the hosta leaves. Leave the hosta leaves in place for winter. The leaves will die down, providing a lovely winter coat for the cold months.
Keep a garden notebook. Make note of changes you want to make for next year’s garden, plants you need to order, etc. Are there any empty spots in your beds that need to be filled? Plants that need to be replaced? Write it down.
Cover your Plant Patron® with holiday lights. Attach the lights to a timer so the lights go on at dusk and turn on at dawn. Then you never have to go out in the cold once the lights are set up. This makes a cheerful statement during dark winter evenings. [And how cheerful it must be for the plant inside. 😊]
We’ve taken a photo of our Plant Patron® with holiday lights. See the photo on the website.
Clean your garden tools. Many of my garden tools are old and very special to me. I prefer a strong, balanced tool, and most of my tools are balanced, making them easier to use.
Until next time, happy gardening to you.
Let’s plant on together. 😊
With kind regards,