Proper Soil Preparation Helps Fight Pests and Disease
Proper care of the garden bed is one of the best ways to ensure happy, healthy, carefree gardens. Since diseases and pests tend to seek out and attack weak, sickly plants, you want to make sure your soil is dug, amended, and watered properly.
A new garden bed should initially be dug to a depth of 12"-18". Work in some organic soil amendments such as compost, peat moss, or leaf mold so that at least 25% of your soil is amended with this good organic matter.
For each 100 square feet of space, add:
- 10 lbs Espoma Plant-tone, an all organic, slow release fertilizer (use Holly-tone for shade gardens)
- 10 lbs rock phosphate, which encourages flowering and root growth (use super phosphate for shade)
- 5-10 lbs Espoma Greensand, which has nutrients for disease resistance
- 5-10 lbs gypsum, a soil conditioner especially for clay soils
After planting your bed, water well and apply a 3" layer of bark mulch (pine bark mulch is best) or pine needles.
Yearly Fertilizer Applications
Each year apply 6 lbs of Plant-tone per 100 square feet of sun garden (or 4 lbs of Holly-tone to the shade garden) in the early spring and again in the fall.
Every 3 or 4 years apply Greensand and rock phosphate according to the label directions.
Good watering practices will ensure that your plants will remain well hydrated and healthy through the season. The proper watering technique simulates a gentle rain over a long period of time, putting down 1" - 1½" each time you water. This should allow the water to penetrate 12"-18" deep and will encourage the development of deep roots which will make your plants more drought resistant. Depending on the amount of rainfall, you should water for 8-12 hours every 10 days or only 3 times per month.
More about watering correctly
Check for weeds in the garden on a weekly basis and remove any that pop up. 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.
Tips for creating and maintaining your gardens