It seems straightforward enough, right? Water your plants and they will grow. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that, but at the same time it’s not all that complicated either. There is not a handbook for watering, but keep a few simple things in mind and you’ll get the results you are hoping for. Using the right tools: soaker hoses, lightweight hoses, sprinklers, rain barrels and irrigation timers can help make your job easier. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
The Best Way to Water
• Focus on the root zone. Daily light sprinklings encourage the roots to grow near the surface making them vulnerable to drying out instead of growing a deep, healthy root ball. Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease. There is no value in watering if the water runs down the outside of the root ball or pot leaving the roots of the plant dry. Slower watering, especially at first, will help make sure the water soaks in to the root ball.
• Water only when needed. If we are in a stretch where we are getting frequent rain, which is not the case in the Lakes Region at the moment, then it’s ok to cut back on watering. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little. Plant roots need a fairly constant supply of both air and water. Too little water and the roots die from lack of moisture. Too much water and the spaces between soil particles remain filled with water, suffocating roots. Both situations reduce a plant’s ability to deliver enough water to stems and leaves, resulting in wilting. The only way to tell if lack of water is causing wilting is to check soil moisture.
• Water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals don’t need to be watered quite as deeply as perennials, shrubs and trees. Move the soil away with your hand or a garden tool to be sure that the water is actually soaking down to the root system. Watering at the base of the plant instead of from overhead, loses less water to evaporation.
• Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
• Mulch everything. Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler.
Some of us received beautiful hanging baskets as long ago as Mother’s Day. Keeping them fresh and flowering throughout our very changeable growing season here in the Lakes Region can be a challenge. As the heat and dryness of summer bears down on us, hanging baskets can start to decline. But with these basic techniques your baskets can look great all season long.
1. Water, water, water
Baskets can dry out quickly, and should be checked twice daily and watered every day; be sure to wet the moss sides as well. If you are seriously dedicated, once a week, take the basket down and soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes to hydrate the entire root ball.
Remove spent flowers, or deadheading, on a weekly basis, prevents plants from going to seed. This will encourage more flower production. Part of the beauty of the mixed basket is its prolonged and varied display.
3. Check for pests
During your weekly deadheading, keep a watchful eye out for aphids, whiteflies and other unfortunate pests. If you see any, try a quick spray of insecticidal soap to keep them from becoming problematic.
Not every plant in the basket will be at its peak all season. Cutting plants back after a flush of bloom will tidy them up and prepare them for a fresh crop of flowers. Meanwhile, other varieties will begin putting on a show. If the entire basket seems to be “flat lining”, go ahead and give the whole thing a trim. If you fertilize it heavily, in a couple of weeks it should be full of buds again.
Daily watering means nutrients can be leached out of the soil before the plants can absorb them. We like to use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow once a week to keep plants thriving.
midsummer hanging baskets
During stretches of extreme heat, give your baskets a break and move them to a cooler, shaded spot to de-stress for a couple of days; likewise when heading on vacation. Your baskets will appreciate it.
We would like to compliment Miracle Farms for the fantastic job they did in designing and building a bluestone walkway and stairs from our house to the water, and underneath a large deck, creating a patio. Drainage issues were a concern and were carefully considered and accounted for. What was most impressive, however, was the implementation of the design. The employees consistently showed up earlier every morning, worked continually until leaving at the end of the work day for approximately a month. (It was a big project.) Aside from a lunch-time break, we never saw anyone disengaged. After each day’s work, before leaving, the grounds were cleared of debris and materials re-organized for the next day’s work.
Miracle Farms also cares for our lawn and looks after our house and dock during the winter. They have provided excellent service. They are responsive to any queries we have made regarding any concerns we have had. We are really pleased with the quality of work and care they provide.
June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Why should I care you ask? Here are some very good reasons why.
About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.
Pollinators are often keystone species, meaning that they are critical to an ecosystem. The work of pollinators ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants everywhere.
The Pollinator Partnership has a series of guides that will help gardeners around the country select plants for their area by simply putting in your zip code. It does a good job of explaining the different types of pollinators and their habitat requirements. It takes more than flowers to keep these populations healthy. There are also many shrubs listed that will also get the bees buzzing.
We want to remind you not to freak out if you see a caterpillar munching on your plants. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to see butterflies, you need to let the caterpillars eat. Don’t get terribly concerned – in most cases a few nibbles on a leaf won’t kill your plants. Relax. Someday that caterpillar will be a beautiful butterfly.
Do your part. Plant something in your garden today that will benefit pollinators. Butterflies love yellow, orange and red, while hummingbirds are attracted to red, fuschia and purple.
For several years now we have been asked by clients to send our garden services crew to “freshen up” their properties for parties or other events. A crew generally goes in just before a wedding, graduation party or summer barbecue and mows the lawn, edges beds, touches up mulch where needed, and rakes beaches.
whiskey barrel accent
We often add annuals for a pop of color in the landscape. Many clients have rented colorful containers to accent areas of the yard or to enhance an area for picture taking. Give Miracle Farms a call when you’re planning your next backyard event no matter how large or small.
Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.
thrillers, fillers, spillers
• Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination
• Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses
• Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container
• Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides
• Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side
• Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses
Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties
• Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full
• Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety
• Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety
• If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety
• Some examples are euphorbia, calibrachoa, and petunias
• Lastly, you add the Spillers
• Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter
• Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container
• If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides
• If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the front of the container
• Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine
use potting soil rich in organic matter
Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden. Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out? However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones. Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move. Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.
The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I build raised beds, or plant directly in the ground? Depending on where you live, soil conditions, sunlight, cost and time involved, your answers may vary. Let’s take a look at some of these factors to help you decide.
1. If the soil where you were hoping to plant is hard-packed, sandy, or rocky then there would be an advantage to building a raised bed and filling it with a healthy mix of topsoil and compost. Of course the cost of materials and the construction time may be enough to make you dig a little harder and amend the soil in the ground.
raised bed in early spring
2. The raised height can help to keep pets out of your garden and by putting a layer of wire mesh in the bottom, you will likely deter burrowing critters trying to come in from below. Again, this adds cost to your project.
3. The fresh soil that you would start with should by nature be cleaner and more free of weeds and a raised bed requires no edging to keep grass out. Because of the height, raised beds are generally a bit easier to weed and maintain.
4. Once you commit to raised beds you can get creative with the design and layout. Check out this article on HOUZZ that details lots of options for materials to use when constructing your raised beds.
5. Time and Cost are a disadvantage. Planning, building and maintaining season after season takes time and financial investment. Even naturally rot-resistant woods such as red cedar and cypress will eventually need replacing and can be difficult to find. Although today’s pressure treated lumber is no longer made with arsenic, many people still prefer to use untreated wood.
6. Soil temperatures in raised beds will warm sooner than soil in the ground so planting can begin a bit earlier. It is also easier to cover raised beds should you fear an early or late season frost.
There is certainly a lot to consider when making this choice. If you know you want raised beds, but don’t have the time or energy to construct them, call Miracle Farms Landscape Contractors and we will help you get the job done. 603-253-9292
Mother Nature has been teasing us with some beautiful spring like weather for a month or so now here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and here’s hoping we are headed in the right direction. With the warmer temperatures and lack of snow it’s a great time to think about what we can do to get the lush green lawns we’ve been dreaming about and there’s no room in the dream for crabgrass! Crabgrass control starts with good practices that encourage the growth and health of desirable lawn grasses, as crabgrass will not invade vigorous, healthy turf. Good management is the best means of crabgrass control, and often least expensive as it will also help control other weeds and diseases.
One of the first things on the list for a healthy lawn is an application of a pre-emergent weed control just after completing a spring clean up. If your lawn tends to be spotted with yellow dandelions and crabgrass, pre-emergent weed prevention is for you. Timing is everything however; so don’t get ahead of yourself before your lawn is ready. Pre-emergent crabgrass preventer can wear off before crabgrass actually germinates if you put it down too early. Crabgrass germinates based on soil temperatures, generally around 56 to 64 degrees at the earliest.
Many professionals watch for a colorful sign in the landscape as an indicator that soil temperatures are within an adequate range for crabgrass to germinate. The sunny golden yellow of forsythia in bloom is a sure sign to move forward with your pre-emergent crabgrass control application, as they will be in full bloom just prior to crabgrass germination. Keep in mind that the herbicide will not be effective after the crabgrass is out of the ground and actively growing so keep this window in mind.
Applied in spring along with your much needed spring fertilizer, pre-emergents work by stopping weeds and crabgrass before the plants have an opportunity to germinate and grow. They work by forming a barrier over the surface where they are applied leaving the roots of established plants (such as perennials, shrubs and trees) unaffected. Be sure to keep pre-emergents away from garden beds where you may be planting seeds. You need to activate the herbicide by watering the lawn after the application. Most products call for a half-inch of irrigation (or rain) within 21 days of application.
Your lawn will grown green and healthy if it doesn’t have to compete with weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients. Apply a pre-emergent yourself or leave your weeds in the experienced hands of the “Lawn Enforcement Officers” at Miracle Farms. Contact us to schedule a free estimate for this service and any other lawn and landscape needs we can help with.
For the Lakes Region in NH, call us at 603-253-9292
The mild weather we are experiencing here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire will surely turn your thoughts to the warmer more colorful days ahead. Forcing branches to flower indoors is a great way to get in to a spring state of mind.
A tall vase of blooming forsythia branches can chase away the winter blahs. Bring a bit of spring indoors by gathering branches of flowering deciduous shrubs and trees and forcing them to bloom or leaf out early in your home.
Early native bloomers are particularly suited for indoor early forcing such as forsythia, witchhazel, and pussy willows. The closer to the actual bloom time you prune the shrub or tree branch for forcing, the faster it will bloom indoors. In late March or early April, later bloomers such as cherry, crabapple, flowering pear and dogwoods are great choices.
Follow these easy steps for success:
Select a branch with many large, round flower buds on it. Leaf buds tend to be smaller and flatter, and lie closer to the branch. Cut the branch to about 6 to 18 inches long. Split the cut end with sharp shears or a knife. Remove any buds that would be under water.
Once indoors, recut the stems and place them in cold water overnight to take up water and acclimate.
Place the vase in a 60-65 degree room, out of direct sunlight. Once the buds start to show color, move to a sunnier spot and enjoy.