Start by taking a leisurely stroll through your gardens after work or with your morning coffee on the weekend. After all, who doesn't enjoy wandering through their beautiful flower beds? That's why you planted them - right?
Weeds are an ever-present challenge for all gardeners. Pluck a few weeds as you walk around! Be on the lookout for problem areas. By keeping up a diligent "weed patrol" during your garden walks, you can cut down on the amount of time you will spend weeding later. When you do get ready to do some serious weeding, try Andre's favorite weeding tool - the Swiss-made swing-head hoe. What a great tool for quickly weeding your beds without disturbing your carefully spread garden mulch!
One of the best things you can do for your flower beds is to put down a 2-3" layer of a good quality mulch. This will go a long way to reducing the number of weeds that pop up in your gardens. However, mulching does a lot more than just keep weeds down. It also reduces water loss from the soil, helps maintain a constant soil temperature, and gives your gardens a neat and finished look.
Most gardens consist of many different kinds of plants; annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, and each of these may have different water requirements. In addition, a plant's need for water varies with the weather and the time of year. So what do you do? Follow Andre's rule of watering. Water slowly and deeply over an 8-12 hour period to put down
1-1½" of water. This type of watering allows the water to penetrate deeply with very little runoff and encourages deep root systems which allow your plants to better survive periods of drought. If you water like this every 10 days through the summer (unless Mother Nature does it for you) your plants should have just the right amount of water. Try Andre's special sprinkler or investigate the possibility of having a drip irrigation system installed!
As you wander around on your morning or evening constitutional, watch for signs of disease and insect damage. Catching problems early can make a big difference in being able to control pests and diseases before they have a chance to cause major destruction. Since insects and disease seem to be drawn to weak or stressed plants, the best way to reduce your chances of infestation is to promote healthy, happy plants. Give your plants a "shot in the roots" with a drench of Nature's Creation Quick Dissolve Plant Food enriched with 11 beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi consist of fine threads that attach to your plants' root systems and spread into the surrounding soil absorbing water and nutrients and transferring them back to the plants. These fungi also stimulate your plants to produce additional roots. The more extensive the root system, the healthier your plants will be and the more resistant they will be to insects, diseases, and other sources of stress.
If you find that you do have a pest or disease problem, it is important to correctly identify the cause so you can choose the right course of action. There are many environmentally friendly pesticides for plant diseases and insect control. There are even some home-made remedies that you can try.