Garden Tips 101. What I learned helping at an Iowa Master Gardening Event

This last Saturday I had the opportunity to help a neighbor with Spring gardening event that she was holding at her house. The event was certified for Master Gardeners to gain credit hours if they attended.  I have to tell you up until I met this neighbor I wasn’t aware that an individual could be a master gardener but there are in fact quite a few people that are certified master gardeners and they take great pride and more importantly love to share their passion for gardening with others!   Being an amateur gardener myself it was great fun to listen in.  Here are a few of the things that I learned :

  • Dirt matters. Use new , not stuff from the previous year  especially if it’s pre-fertilized as the fertilizer has probably activated over the winter and may burn out the roots of your new plants
  • Use a dirt mix, soil,  sand, pine chips, and peat moss to allow for water retention and drainage – everything in balance!
  • 16 inch hanging pots do better that 14 inch- a few of the master gardeners swore by this  I didn’t quite understand why but their hanging basket pictures were awesome!
  • Use spinners on the hooks of hanging baskets so they can turn freely and get even sun/shade.. quick tips like this were great!
  • Don’t buy plants from big box stores. The plants will be stressed most likely from irregular care. Better to do fewer from a reputable garden center. They will most likely be healthier and do better in the long haul. Plus small garden center employees can be a great resource for you. They know the region and are generally gardeners themselves.
  • Don’t put down mulch to soon. The spring thaw allows the ground to aerate naturally and if you tromp around stomping it down you are being counter productive
  • Don’t be fooled by the plants out at Walmart making u think it is safe to plant!  If u buy early don’t plant until overnight temps average 50 deg F
  • Read the directions and water accordingly  young plants need a good foundation to thrive through the summer
  • Fertilize .. it makes a difference!  The slow release pellets may be more expensive but you need less and your plants will thank you by producing flowers like the pictures you see
  • Less is more when u treat the plants right  don’t over plant.  One plant will fill in wonderfully if you follow all these steps

I am chomping at the bit to plant this year. I will share as I go!



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