Gardening with Laurie: It's time to start preparing for spring gardens

Jan. 5, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 4, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.

Now is the time to plan the spring landscape, so ask yourself some questions. Are there landscape changes you wish to make this season? Are their existing plants that need to be relocated to better suited areas? Are there areas in the landscape that do not drain well? Are some trees growing larger than anticipated? Are you ready for more flowerbeds or other gardens? Are you ready to do away with some of your water hogging grass lawn? All of these and possible lots more questions should be considered at this time. Hot dry summer weather sure does have a way of creeping up on us gardeners quickly. Now is the time to address these issues while the temperatures are cool.

During cooler times of the year, microbial life in the soil slows down. Nutrients will not be as readily available to plants. This means it will benefit plants to be fed more often during cooler temps. I like to start plants or seeds off when first planted using one of the organic dry fertilizers then alternating every week or two with a liquid organic fertilizer. Many gardeners are often leery to use an organic fertilizer when first planting something. They have read or been told by synthetic chemical gardeners not to feed newly planted plants because it could burn the young plants. Not so with natural fertilizers.

Lawn grasses are still pretty much dormant because of cold temperatures, but it won't be long before they are actively growing again. Even while things above the ground seem dormant, the roots below the ground are very actively "doing their thing." That's why it is important to make sure the lawn has all the nutrients and sunlight it can get now. Feeding with an organic fertilizer and periodically removing leaves from the lawn is a very good thing to be doing. Now is also the best time to top dress the lawn with a thin layer of some good compost. Just a 1/4 inch layer of compost is needed so you don't smother the grass. If you have trees that shed leaves on the lawn it's best to keep them raked up to allow a good amount of sunlight to get to the grass. Grass lawns need the sunlight to help produce carbohydrates and fertilizer to add nutrients. After the past summer there are many lawns that are in need of as much help as you can afford to provide.

To help keep all those Christmas poinsettias growing well, be sure to keep the soil moist, not soggy. Keep in a bright location where they are not near a heating vent. Feed them every couple of weeks. Check the soil moisture every couple of days, and water as needed. Having the heater running in your home can quickly dry out the soil in potted plants.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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