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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Nov. 8: Fall Colors Bike and Hike at Shelby Bottoms, a bike/hike outing from the Nature Center to Stones River Farm (7 miles from the Nature Center) to enjoy fall colors, led by naturalist John Michael Cassidy. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Participants should be comfortable riding 15+ miles. Registration required for this age 12-and-up activity, 862-8539.

    Nov. 8: Beekeeping 101 at Warner Park Nature Center, a workshop and overview of hobby beekeeping and how to start your own hive, and a presentation on bee biology. 9 a.m. – noon. Call to register for this adult-level workshop, 615-352-6299.

    Nov. 15: Great Gourds at Shelby Bottoms Nature Center, to learn about this ancient, multi-purpose vegetable. 2 – 3 p.m.; registration required for this all-ages program, 615-862-8539.

    Nov. 22: ReLeafing Day with the Nashville Tree Foundation, volunteer to plant trees in the Cleveland and McFerrin Park neighborhoods in East Nashville. Tree planting is 8:30 a.m. – noon. Meet at Glenn Elementary on Cleveland Street. To learn more or to volunteer: www.nashvilletreefoundation.org.

    Nov. 28: Holiday at Cheekwood opens with a full schedule of holiday-theme events and a live poinsettia tree made up from more than 500 individual poinsettias. Holiday at Cheekwood runs through Dec. 31. The complete schedule is at www.cheekwood.org.

    Dec. 4: Organic Gardening at Warner Park Nature Center, 9 – 10:30 a.m. Naturalist Deb Beazley leads a session on how and when to begin planning, planting and growing an organic garden. 615-352-6299 to register.

    Dec. 4: Holiday at Cheekwood live greenery design workshop. Complete information at www.cheekwood.org.

    Dec. 5 – 7: Tennessee Local Food Summit with “Barefoot Farmer” Jeff Poppen at Vanderbilt University, hosted by Vanderbilt’s Health Plus. Seminar topics range from backyard gardening to nutrition, cooking and climate change. Complete details at http://tnlocalfood.com.

    Dec. 7: Holiday at Cheekwood wreath-making workshop. Complete information at www.cheekwood.org.

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For great new garden beds, start with the soil

Question: We are building a new house and would like to have flower gardens around it. How and when should we start a new garden?

soilTo start new flower beds, begin with the basics. The first step is to decide where, what shape and how large you want the beds to be, considering design elements, how you plan to use the garden and how the beds fit into your overall landscape plans. That may sound overwhelming, but if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can start small and build and expand over time.
Start with the most basic element, the soil. Investing a little effort into it at the beginning ensures that the beds will get off to a good start and get better over the years.

The ground around new construction is often packed down and littered with nails, chunks of cement, wood chips and other building detritus, so start by cleaning up as much as possible. Then take the time to have a soil test done. This will let you know what nutrients the soil contains and what amendments may need to be added for what you are planning to plant. Your county’s extension office can provide the necessary materials and instructions and will test the soil for a small fee.
You may also need to improve the soil’s texture. The best soil for growing most plants is loamy, and holds together somewhat when you squeeze a handful of it, but crumbles easily. You can improve tight-clumped clay soil or loose, sandy soil by working in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss.

The soil improvement phase can be done soon, after the ground is no longer frozen. Later, when it’s time to select plants for the beds, consider the growing conditions (how much sun or shade, whether it’s a wet or dry area, etc.) along with what you like and what fits with your overall plan, your budget, and the time commitment you want to make in terms of watering, deadheading and grooming the beds.

Become familiar with the growth requirements, expected growing height and habits of the plants you plan to use. Consider that some perennials and flowers grown from bulbs may offer shorter bloom times but grow and develop over a period of time, while annuals can offer more quick-growing color, but are gone after one season. With a little planning, you can have flowers in bloom in your beds throughout spring, summer and fall.

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One Response

  1. Thank you so much for your recommendations.

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