Friday, May 8, 2009

Feeding Schedule Of West Coast Gardeners

By Thomas Fryd

Just because Pacific Coast gardeners live in a very favored climate, where winters are mild and the ground rarely freezes, many are under the impression that you can plant most things the year around and expect them to grow like magic. Nature has provided certain seasons for successful growth of each kind of plant.

Doing Dahlias

Dahlias demand, because of their warm Mexican background, a warm and consistently even temperature. if you start your dahlias too early because the weather is warm they may develop healthy and rapid growth but, if the weather should change and the ground become chilled, growth will be checked. This starting and stopping develops a hard woody structure and results in dahlia plants that cannot perform at their best. Dahlias must be planted late enough so that the weather is settled and be kept under even growing conditions. Tubers are usually set from late March to June.

To get the best from your dahlias, provision should also be made to afford them the right environment. Dont forget, dahlias like full sun or grow spindly. The proper supply of their seasons food must also be mixed with the soil prior to planting. Dig in a generous supply of decayed humus and bone meal or a complete plant food. These should be thoroughly mixed in the soil throughout the whole area in which you expect to plant. Follow during the blooming period with monthly feedings of liquid food. By blooming time each dahlia has sent feeding roots several feet away from the original spot of planting in quest of food.

In planting, each tuber should be laid flat, 6 inches deep and 3 feet apart with 4 feet between rows.

A stake should be placed 2 inches from the sprouted end at planting time. Cover the tuber only a few inches, allowing the sun to warm and stimulate growth. As growth progresses, fill in the hole completely.

Lawn Mowing

The height at which a lawn should be cut depends upon the type of grass grown. The bents require close mowing and should be kept at about 1/2 inch. Fescue grasses can be cut almost as close. Kentucky blue grass should be left at a height of 1-1/2 inches. Newly-sown lawns should receive their first trimming when the grass is 1-1/2 inches high. Dont wait until it shoots up 4 to 5 inches. The mower should be set so that only the grass tips are cut off and keep the mower blades set high for the first 6 to 8 cuttings. Then they can be lowered for a closer cut. Frequent mowing is important. It produces a fine-textured turf. If grass is allowed to become too tall before it is cut, growth becomes coarse and the leaves lose their healthy, deep green color.

Water Gardens

Build water gardens which include plant watering systems in April. The start of warm weather means newly set out water-liles and other plants will grow fast. The use of water in the garden dates back to pre-Bible days. The ancients knew that a pool or waterfall adds color, excitement and life. Even more important, they knew that water helps cool the air by evaporation. The old Persian and Spanish garden makers in centuries gone by wisely used this principle.

Thats probably why so many architects included water effects in the California-Spanish period homes of the mid-twenties here in the West. Nothing ties in more naturally with outdoor living than water gardens handled skillfully. Nothing can be more dramatic especially if colored under-water lights are used for dazzling night time effects.

Flowers from Seeds

Aprils warm weather makes it possible to sow virtually every annual listed in the catalogues. The Torch tithonia will respond well if planted now. It likes heat and while it may not be a traffic stopper in cool, coastal sections, it will scream with color inland and other spots with long, warm growing days.

Roses Roses Roses

Growing prize roses... are not the result of wishful dreaming but the result of action-regular feeding, irrigation and spraying. Armfuls of roses will be yours if you spray every 10 days or so with a multi-purpose spray. A spray with good residual effects means that the aphids can really be licked.

Pep Up The Garden Color

Brighten up your garden with some new chrysanthemum varieties. During the next 6 weeks western nurseries will be featuring improved kinds. Get acquainted with the improved colors now available. Dont forget, too, that cuttings can still be made from your last years clumps. They root easily.

Get Feeding on Schedule

You get more value from your plant foods if you feed while your plants are at their most active period of growth. Most plants are in full surge of growth, so fertilize now. Members of the "organic cult" of gardeners stick strictly to organic plant foods like the ever-valuable fish emulsions and natural manures. Those "on the other side of the fence" rely on chemical nutrients. Perhaps the safest system is a blend of both so that plants achieve maximum growth.

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