PLANTING GUIDE FOR ANNUALS
When planting your annuals in the ground it is always best to remove all debris and weeds from the area. For best results choose plants that are most appropriate for the exposure of the area. In simplest terms this is either sun or shade. Impatiens for shade and marigolds or petunias for sun are the most common suggestions. All of the plants we grow have descriptive signs describing whether they will do best in sun or shade or if they will tolerate some of each. Each pot or pack also has a label with the information you need to decide. These labels will tell you the different heights and growth conditions for each variety, as well as how far apart they should be planted. You are surrounded by information that will help you be successful with your plants.
Now, how to plant them; After selecting your plants and cleaning the area, prepare the soil by mixing in a good garden soil to improve the bed, Let’s face it, our soils tend to be very sandy and plants will grow best with the addition of some rich soil, Use about one bag for about 10 square feet and mix in with the existing soil. You don’t have to dig it in a foot down; you just want to start to enrich the soil. Just mix it in completely as you plant. The addition of fertilizer, organic or inorganic, is also necessary at this point. I do it two ways, I spread garden tone over the area, about one pound for every 20 square feet, and then I place about a tablespoon of osmocote directly in the hole and mix it thoroughly before placing it in the hole. This can all be done with a simple hand trowel and I don’t measure exact amounts. Just estimate it’s simpler. Plant your annuals in a checkerboard pattern according to the label spacing guide, don’t plant them too closely and don’t plant them too deeply. Remember, you’re going to add mulch later so keep them above the soil line. One flat of impatiens can cover, depending on how far apart you plant them, up to 120 square feet. If you want those 3 foot impatiens just fertilize every 3 weeks after the first month with a water soluble fertilizer. I use Jacks. I know it sounds complicated but with a little practice you can plant a flat of annuals in about a half hour.
And then, I consider this the most important step. MULCH THOSE PLANTS. Unless you want to be on your knees for the rest of the summer, cover the ground with a layer of mulch 2 inches deep. One 3 cubic foot bag will cover 20-25 square feet. I use shredded hardwood. Now water in well with the hose and enjoy all summer.
PLANTING YOUR NEW TREES, SHRUBS AND PERENNIALS
Dig a hole in your spot which is twice as big as the root ball of your new plant. Make sure to add some organic matter such as peat moss, garden soil or compost to the soil you remove from the hole. Place the plant in the center of the hole and make sure the top soil line of the pot is even or slightly higher than the existing soil. If you are planting a ball and burlap plant cut the strings after it is in the hole and fold the burlap down in the hole, do not remove the burlap. Fill in the hole with the amended soil and pack the soil around the roots. Add some fertilizer to the top layer of soil and scratch into the soil. A low nitrogen fertilizer like gardentone or osmocote is best because it is low in nitrogen and it will provide nutrition throughout the entire growing season. After all your plants are finished add a two to four inch layer of mulch such as hardwood or cedar mulch. We use the hardwood because it is dark brown and breaks down well to improve the soil. This is probably the most important step because it will keep the weeds from sprouting and help keep the soil moist. In terms of watering , it’s hard to say whether to water every day because over watering can be just as bad as under watering. The best way to decide is by touch. Feel the soil the plant came in and if it feels dry you should water. The plants in the nursery are watered every night during the hot months unless we get a heavy rain. Proper planting care with soil amendments and fertilizer is essential for successful establishment of your new plant in the landscape. Now step back and enjoy for years to come.
PLANTING GUIDE FOR CONTAINERS
To me, this couldn’t be simpler. Choose a container, choose the appropriate plants for sun or shade, fill the container to the level that will accommodate the size of the plant with a good potting soil like Laemberts, add an appropriate amount of Osmocote (it’s on the label) and mix in, take the plant out of the pot and arrange in the container, fill in spaces left around the plants with soil, water thoroughly, enjoy.
I guess the tricky part is the plant selection. How many per pot, what kind, how big will it get, which ones will hang over the sides, how much will I have to water it. First of all the pot, the bigger the better. If you choose a larger pot you will have more options of the different kind of plants you can put together. A 12” pot will hold 4 to 6, four inch plants. For plant selection the choices are limitless. Read the signs and labels and make sure none of them will become gigantic and take over the whole pot, my suggestion is if you like it and it will grow in your conditions, get it. There are no gardening rules, try it. Most of the annuals will bloom all summer and if you want to use perennials pick the ones with the colored leaves, and interesting textures because none of the perennials bloom all summer. Definitely choose some plants that will hang over the sides. Remember, if you stick one plant in the middle of a big pot you’ll be waiting awhile for that to fill the pot. I use osmocote in all the pots I grow which are over 6”. You should too, unless you diligently go out every week with the watering can, mix up some water soluble fertilizer and feed them. Container plants need fertilizer. Osmocote is a time release fertilizer which will continue feeding all summer. If you use it you can get away with the water soluble fertilizer, I use Jacks, once a month. One more trick, don’t overfill the container. Leave 1” space at the top of the pot as a water reservoir so you can water completely and less often. Let’s face it; if it’s in a pot you’re going to have to water it often.
HOW TO PLANT VEGETABLES
Choose the site on your property with the most sun. Vegetables do not grow well in the shade. If you have grass in the area it should be cut out and piled out of the way until it composts and can be returned to the garden in the fall. You do need to plan the size of your garden. Make sure you have enough room for what you want to grow. Each tomato needs an area about two foot by three foot, peppers, eggplant, squash, broccoli, and bush cucumbers need at least two foot by two foot . Remember to leave aisles between the plants about three feet wide so you can move around in and weed the garden. Consider putting up a strong fence to tie your tomatoes to and to grow some beans or cucumbers. I hate to say this but, don’t buy too much for the size of your garden.
Prepare the soil by adding lots of organic material. Peat moss, or garden soil are both organic and are a good idea for the vegetable garden. Mix the organic material in with a shovel to the depth of 4” to 6”. It’s going to be hard and you will sweat but it gets easier after the first year if you keep the weeds out. Spread some garden fertilizer and lime over the entire area. Read the directions on the bag it will tell you how much to use, same with the lime. Rake everything over and you’re ready to plant. The soil should be moist before you start. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Perfect is for the SAT’s.
If you’re still confused about how far apart you should plant, read the label or seed pack, lots of info on those things. Tomatoes should be planted deeply. Leave only six to ten inches sticking above ground, roots will grow along the stem and make it more stable. Everything else should be level with the soil, don’t plant deep, it will make them rot. Seeds go underground (look on seed pack). Always stake or support tomatoes, if you’re doing it right they will get big. Whenever I plant anything I add some more fertilizer like gardentone to the bottom of the hole and mix it up well. Don’t just let it sit there, it will burn the roots. It’s not good to burn the roots. I like to water everything with the hose, individually. Water the soil not the leaves. Wet leaves lead to problems. And then, start weeding. Just kidding, but it’s best to weed as soon as you see them.
Pests!! Deer; fence, Rabbits; fence, Pilfering neighbors; move. But seriously, some common insects are Colorado potato beetles and tomato hornworms I just pick off. Just squish the little red Colorado potato beetle larvae and the little orange egg clusters with your fingers (use gloves for the squeamish). Other problems: caterpillars;dipel dust and bean beetles; Neem oil. If a vegetable has too many pest problems, I just don’t grow it. I go to the store to buy it.
Just enjoy yourself and don’t be overly ambitious when first starting out but do try everything you like. If your garden is a burden rather than a relaxation you’ll get tired of it and that’s not good for me. Farmer Jim
GROWING FIGS IN SOUTH JERSEY
Fig trees are a hardy, easy to grow, pest free addition to any garden. Our sandy soils are perfect for establishing hardy figs. Figs are also very drought tolerant once established in the garden. They do require some work to produce abundant amounts of figs, but the bounty is well worth the effort.
Plant Figs in a sunny spot in the garden. The sunnier the spot the more figs you will get. Add some fresh soil or compost to the soil as you would with any new plant. Figs produce best if grown on a single stem, or trunk. Remove all lower branches until the fig gets to about 5 feet, this will make it easier to pick the figs. Make sure to remove the suckers at the base of the plant, as these will only sap the strength and won’t produce fruit. Once the tree reaches 5 feet, top the tree (cut the main growing stem off) and allow side branches to form at the top of the tree. Fertilize the fig in mid-spring, to encourage fruit production, with a good granular fertilizer.
Throughout the summer continue removing all new growth from the trunk. Figs will start forming on your tree quite early but, will not ripen until the end of the summer. Your figs are ripe when they swell, become soft, turn color and begin to split at the bottom. Then just pick and enjoy a tasty treat.
Pruning and Wrapping Your Fig Trees for Winter
Throughout the growing season try to select two to three stems without branches for the next seasons fruit production. The branches which bore this seasons figs will be cut off before you wrap the tree for the winter. It is best to tie these selected branches to each other to get them to grow straight up instead of horizontally. Prune and wrap after the leaves have fallen off completely and the weather has become cold but not too cold and windy, usually around Thanksgiving. Select the three or four stems you have chosen for next year’s fruit. They should be larger than a pencil but smaller than a broomstick. These are the branches you don’t want to cut off. With a large lopper or pruning saw carefully remove the large branched stems that had this year’s fruit. Be especially careful that you don’t strip off the bark from the trunk. Remove all other branches except the next years fruiting branches. Now, wrap the remaining branches starting just below the branches, as tightly as possible, being very careful to not break them. Use a soft rope and try to get the branches as close together as possible. Now, loosely wrap the entire tree, bottom to top in a soft light colored blanket. Next, wrap the tree, bottom to top with a white or clear piece of plastic (black plastic absorbs too much heat) Tie the plastic to the tree as tightly as possible. The goal is to keep the blanket as dry as possible so it will insulate better, and the plastic is to keep the cold winter wind away from the trunk. It doesn’t look great but it does work. Uncover and untie the tree in early to mid-April depending on the weather and how cold it is. Fertilize and enjoy another year of delicious Figs.
First of all there are two main types of raspberries, summer bearing and fall bearing. If you are unsure right now, which ones you have, treat them as summer bearing until they finish next year, and at least if they turn out to be fall bearing you won't have had a year without any berries.
Fall bearing bushes are the easiest to prune, as you do not need to decide what to keep and what to not, but you shoul always remove the past seasons fruiting branches because they will not fruit again. After the berries have all been harvested, cut or mow the whole row down to ground level. They will grow back up the next year, and bear again in the fall. Summer bearing raspberries take two years to complete their cycle, and therefore, if you were to cut all of yours to the ground now, without knowing if they were summer or fall, you could end up without any berries for a year.
Always remember to fertilize and mulch you raspberries every spring. The young, green canes poke out of the ground, and grow over the summer to quite a height (these are called floricanes). In the summer, some people let these branches continue growing as high as they want, and others top them at a more manageable height (as we do) so that it is easier picking. Topping them also encourages bilateral branches from the sides of the canes, giving you a higher yield of berries. In the spring, your canes that grew nice and tall over the past summer, but did not bear any berries should be left in the garden. They will now bloom this year, and bear lots of berries for you.
Then in the fall, you will see that you now have two types of canes. (if you just moved in and the raspberries haven't been taken care of, you probably have this stage now). Some are the nice new green canes that have not had berries this year, and some may already be dying or dead, but even if they are not yet, their stem will be brown or a grayish color. These old canes need to be cut out right to the ground. They are finished and will not bear fruit again. You should just be left with green canes (floricanes) again.
Your raspberries will continue this ongoing cycle, year after year,just remember to fertilize every spring. The best way to prune any of the compound berry fruits (raspberry, blackberry, etc.) is in the early winter, always remember to remove all the old wood (branches that have already made fruit, you'll see all the dried fruit stems on the branch) these will not bear any more berries and will just sap strength from the bush.