ResearchToo often plants are purchased before any thought has been given to the soil, sunlight, and drainage conditions of the patch. It is advisable to check what will grow in various sections of the land.
Soil CompositionSoil is made up of a combination of sand, silt and clay - sand having the largest particles and clay having the smallest (heaviest). The ideal proportions would be 40% Sand, 40% Silt and 20% Clay. By now you must be wondering how you will ever be able to find out what proportion your soil is made up of. Mr McGregor has this easy test. Dig a few holes and test the various soils by taking a fistful of soil. Squeeze the soil into a ball. If the soil is unable to hold its shape it is probably too high in sand. If it holds its shape, try pressing on it with your thumb. The ideal soil will break apart easily. If your soil doesn't do this, then it is probably too high in clay content. Solving inadequate soil composition is easy. Just add organic matter like egg shells, vegetable and fruit skins from your kitchen waste. If your soil is too high in sand or silt, you need to add a combination of compost, topsoil and peat moss. If your soil is too high in clay, add peat moss, compost and some sand (too much sand will spoil the soil). Sand used in addition to organic matter has the effect of breaking down clay soils allowing better drainage.
Sunlight:We can control the quality of the soil and its moisture to a certain degree, however we can't influence the sunlight in certain sections of your garden. A garden on the south side of a building will remain in shade all year round, but luckily there are many great plants that will survive in such conditions. Choose carefully the suitable plants for the amount of sunlight reaching your patch. Plants that live under large deciduous trees only receive sparse sunlight. There are McGregor's seeds to suit any area. McGregor's Forget Me Not seeds will survive in conditions ranging from part shade to full sun. The packets will also display the correct season to plant - usually late spring, summer and early autumn. Seeds/Seedlings that require 'full sun' will require at least six hours of direct sunlight throughout the day. Look out for McGregor's vibrant marigolds and sunflowers which will grow wonderfully in these conditions and will add vibrant colour to your yard. Having a good idea of what sunlight reaches your garden is very important. Soil Moisture within a garden patch will depend on the climate, the area of the patch (e.g. bottom of a hill), and even within a patch there can be deviations in moisture levels. If an area of your section is wet you can make a raised plant box or you can fill the area with plants that thrive in wet areas. On the other hand, if there is a particularly dry area, select plants that will survive and thrive in those areas. A bad idea is to assume you will be able to compensate with frequent watering. Follow all the Garden Guru guides and you will find your new found hobby to be much more rewarding.
WateringRain water is great for the garden but during dry periods you will have to make sure you keep your garden well watered as water stress can quickly affect the health of your plants making them more susceptible to attacks by insect pests and diseases. Knowing when your garden needs watering can be a bit of an art, but generally if the top 15 -30mm of soil is dry then it is time to water. Avoid watering in the heat of the day. Early morning is ideal or in the evening. However, if you find a life or death situation then midday watering is better than having plants die. The McGregor’s range of watering products has a great selection of sprinklers, watering guns and wands to make watering your garden easier.
PlantingProper planting and some common sense is paramount to the survival of new plants.
- Dig a hole nearly twice the size of the plant's root structure. NB. For smaller plants such as perennials or bedding plants, use a trowel to create a small trench in which to place individual seedlings.
- Mix together some compost, peat moss with a bit of the removed soil.
- For large trees, generally don't correct the soil balance too much. This is because the roots of the tree will try fairly quickly to spread past the corrected area and, if the composition of this soil is significantly different from that of the surrounding area, the roots can have trouble getting past the barrier. For example in heavy clay soil the tree will eventually have difficulty once it reaches the clay after it has spread past the peat moss. Planting
- Place some soil at the bottom of your hole making a mound. You want the plant to be propped up slightly higher than the soil level as the plant will sink and compress after a few days of watering.
- Un-pot the plant by holding the top in place with one hand, turning it over and tapping the bottom of the tub to detach roots that may be stuck. If the roots had reached the wall of the tub they need to carefully loosened and nestled into the soil mound.
Hint: As you fill the gap around the newly inserted plant, leave a moat around the edge of your hole. Fill the moat with water and after it has drained, fill it again several times. This helps the soil to settle, filling air pockets, and also dampens the roots.