I'm typing this post with dirt under my fingernails, and it makes me soooo happy. In NC our warm days start early, but the risk of a freeze isn't over until April 13th (I think---but my mom remembers it by the tax deadline. Taxes finished and plants in the ground---ahhh!) Every year I have to fight the urge to plant flowers before the last freeze. Some years that last freeze comes much earlier, but we actually had temps in the low 30s this week. Dicey!
Today was beautiful, though, and I was somewhat caught up with the list, so I headed to the nursery. I took in a $20 bill with the intent of staying on budget. I have to confess that I had to return to the car before checkout for just a little more. That's ok. If I had walked in with my debit card, there's no telling where the story would end!
I don't have a big flower garden. It's just a small area that surrounds the sidewalk that leads to my front door. I just love that little piece of earth! The first year I only had enough money for a couple of packets of zinnias, and they brought me so much joy. I'm still a fairly novice gardener, but I have puttered at it for a couple of years and thought I'd share some tips for beginners.
- It's such a temptation to dig a hole and poke plants into the ground, but a little preparation will give much better results. In my part of NC, we have red clay. It's absolutely horrible stuff. It stains your clothes and turns hard as a rock during dry spells. This red clay needs lots of help. For the last 3 years, I've tilled in (I do it with a little hand tiller) peat moss and composed manure. Tonight, I got a reward. I could dig in my garden without breaking the trowel. I love it, and the plants love it, too. Even the first year, my zinnias were taller than me when they bloomed. Glorious! Do a little reading about your area and soil type to maximize your garden.
- I always add composed manure in the bottom of a new hole along with a shake of Osmicote time-release fertilizer. My next door neighbors once did an experiment. She used cow manure and he used chicken manure. His garden won! I'll use the cheapest!!
- Make sure that you check the roots when you take the plant out of the pot. If they are very compact, just take your fingers and gently loosen and tear them apart. If the roots remain "root bound", the plan won't grow. I won't elaborate, but use your imagination to make some spiritual applications here. Selah!
For those of you who are seasoned gardeners, you may be laughing at my simple tips. Somebody had to tell me when I first started, though, so I thought I'd do a gardener primer.
Each year, I've added a couple more perrenials and some annuals. The irises are almost done blooming. The peony buds will pop open soon. My daylillies are going crazy, and I will delight to see their first cheerful blooms. Happiness! If you haven't dug in the dirt yet this spring, I highly recommend plant therapy. Don't have a yard or a garden? Plant a container. There's just something about dirt under your fingernails in the spring that chases away remnants of the winter blahs.