Gardening Q&A: Fruit Trees, Vegetable Gardens, Fertilizing Flower Beds and More

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the 70s by Sunday. Time to pull out the gardening tools and get to work.

In this month’s Gardening Q&A, the experts at Greenstreet Gardens provide us with helpful advice on:

  • When to plant a vegetable garden;
  • How to get rid of weeds in the yard;
  • Different types of fertilizers to add to flower beds; and much more

Enjoy the warm weather and happy gardening!

Q. When is the best time to start planting a vegetable garden?

A. Now! Except for tomatoes…hold off on them until the soil warms up, by the end of the month (Mother Nature willing!). Don’t forget to amend the garden soil with nutrient rich compost. We love “Bumper Crop” and “Lobster Compost” – both products are loaded with all the good stuff plants need for healthy roots. And healthy roots mean healthy plants. And healthy plants produce the most!

Q. What is the best way to get rid of weeds in the yard?

A. Your choices are chemical weed killers or, sorry to tell you, good old fashioned hand pulling. Make sure you pull up the entire plant, roots or all. For spot weeding, my grandmother always used regular vinegar. She put it in a spray bottle and coated the weeds. They didn’t die as quickly as they would with a commercial weed killer like Round-Up but they eventually wilted and passed on. For weeds growing between bricks and stones, you can purchase a “flame tool” – a wand connected to a small can of camp-stove fuel. The flame will burn the weeds. Be careful and don’t try this next to structures…you are playing with fire!

Q. Is one brand or type of mulch more beneficial than another?

A.  Natural cedar chips are tops because it deters termites, but it is the most expensive mulch, about double the cost of other types. The colored mulches now available bleed color when rained or watered on. We like the standard, old fashioned shredded hardwood mulch. Whichever you choose, be careful to not over apply. Never pile mulch up to a tree truck or base of plant; this is a bad habit we see all around. Mulch piled up against the base of a plant encourages insects, not good. Rule of thumb is no more than 2 inches of mulch and stop at least an inch away from the plant’s base or trunk.

Q. Are there fruit trees that are easier to take care of than others?350px-Apples_on_tree_2011_G12

A. Peach and pear trees thrive in our area. It’s recommended to “fruit prune” – when the fruit appears, it is in clusters of 2, 3 or more. Remove all but one of the fruit (yikes! I know that’s hard to do) but doing this will prevent fungus and rot from taking the fruit, in the end, give you a bumper crop of pretty, sweet fruit. Apples do well, but they perform best when pruned when dormant.  All berries…blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries do very well with a minimum of fuss.

Q. What type of fertilizer is recommended for flower beds?

A. You can use a commercial fertilizer like Flower Trust; just keep the fertilizer numbers below “10” – so a fertilizer labeled 10-10-10 is the highest you should go. I like to use compost as fertilizer for an entire bed. Simply spread a 2” layer of a good compost – I love Bumper Crop – over the entire bed. As water passes through, the nutrients flow into the soil.  For container gardens, I like a slow release fertilizers like Osmocote, sprinkled on the surface twice during the growing season, then a bi-weekly dose of liquid fertilizer to boost blooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Cynthia Giorgio

I'm Cynthia Giorgio, co-founding editor of South River Source. I love to write about the people, places, news and events in South County. Send story ideas to cynthia@southriversource.com or call me at 301-906-4767.

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