Spring : Three Spring Tips for a Happier Healthier Garden
Step 1: Weeding
Many annual and perennial weeds are showing their ugly heads. Prior to mulching it is important to remove all weeds from your beds. Many annual weeds are shallow rooted and easily removed. Some perennial weeds are deep rooted (tap roots). Care should be taken to try to get the entire root system out. If small sections of the root are left in the ground there is a good chance the weed will re-grow.
Step 2: Feeding
After weeding is complete consider fertilizing your garden prior to applying mulch. A variety of fertilizers are available to help feed your plants. Products that are not decomposed (such as bark mulch, leaves, grass clippings) will leach Nitrogen from the soil as they break down. Typically our soils on the island are deficient in Nitrogen to begin with. Therefore it is important to compensate for this loss. This can be accomplished by using any of the following materials:
- Chemical fertilizer (6-8-6)
- Organic fertilizer (Milorganite)
- Fish Compost
- Soil Amender
It is important to provide plants with a regular source of nutrition in order to maintain plant health.
Step 3: Mulching
Mulches by definition are any product that provides a protective covering. Mulches reduce evaporation, maintain a more even soil temperature, prevent erosion, help inhibit weed growth and may feed or provide nutrients to plants. In order for mulches to be effective they should be 3"-4" deep. Care should be taken to not put too much mulch within the drip line. Covering the crown of a plant is the same as planting too deep. Planting too deep is one factor that can lead to plant health decline. Bark mulches are used extensively on the island because they are readily available. When using bark mulches be sure to compensate for the Nitrogen loss by applying a Nitrogen rich fertilizer prior to applying your mulch (see point #2). As a general rule one yard of mulch will cover 100sq. ft, 3" deep. With organic mulches such as bark mulch allow for some compaction, so order approximately 15-20% more than you think you need.