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HomeHomes
Published: Thursday, 4/12/2007

Keeping Your Garden Growing: Common Mistakes to Avoid

You come from a long line of green thumbs, and this year, you re planning to take your own stab at gardening. Like any first-time gardener and even some pros, you re bound to make some mistakes.

Eileen Creque, the co-owner with her husband, Jeff, of Creque s Greenhouse on Sylvania Avenue, says that one of the most common mistakes she has seen is a very simple one: people don t fertilize enough.

People don t feed their plants, she says. If you feed your plants, they ll get more flowers.

All our plants are fertilizer-addicted. We re giving them a small amount all the time, she says. When you get a plant from a greenhouse, the plant is pretty well fed and he s happy. That will last them about three weeks, but then it s all going to be gone from the soil.

She says that slow-release fertilizers often don t provide enough for the plants.

All these new super petunias are fertilizer hogs, Mrs. Creque says. They take more than you re used to. They take more than we re used to.

Another mistake to avoid is not watering plants enough, particularly hanging baskets.

Buy your hanging basket in a bigger pot, she says. If they even went to a 12-inch basket, instead of a 10-inch basket, they would be buying a little more soil insurance.

She says that most baskets have a large percentage of peat mixed with the soil. When the peat dries out, it turns waxy and rolls away from the sides of the basket. When you water, the peat doesn t absorb it and the water pours straight through.

Give it some water, let it sit, and then go back and hit the hanging basket again, Mrs. Creque recommends. You broke the water barrier and that peat will absorb the water like a sponge.

Finally, she says, be sure to mulch after you ve planted not before.

Some people, they put down mulch and then they re planting in it. I m scared that sometimes they re planting in the mulch and not in the soil.

Other factors to consider: The best gardens are located where soil and light conditions are ideal. For some gardeners, this site is on the edge of their landscape; for others, it is in the center.

The best gardens consist of plants that complement rather than compete with each other. The plants vary in color, texture and height, but look like they belong together.

The best gardens look good from all angles, inside and out. Walk through your home and make sure that you can see your garden from key vantage points.

The best gardens contain well-pruned plants. If your plants experience a period of rapid growth, don t go overboard and shear them mercilessly. If some of your plants get too large for the space they are in, move them to a more appropriate location rather than destroying them with shearing.

The best gardens are not littered with statuary, garden globes and stepping-stones. The more ornaments in the garden, the less the focus on the garden. If you have several garden ornaments, consider rotating them to keep your garden uncluttered.



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