The key to successful gardening is “healthy soil.” This basic principle of organic gardening applies to all plants. Quite simply, when you feed the soil the proper nutrients, you let the soil feed the plants. So how do you “feed” the soil? First, you need to understand some elementary information about your soil and why it is so important, and then you can take steps to improve it.
To start, you should determine the soil texture by moistening the soil and rubbingit between your thumb and fingers to determine it’s “feel.” Sands are gritty and will barely hold together; clay can be squeezed into a firm shape; and silt will act in a way to allow particles to cling together. Sandy soils tend to dry out quickly because they contain high amounts of soil air. Oppositely, clay soils have a tendency to pack together, shutting out air and water. The best garden soil, “loam,” has moderate amounts of sand, silt and clay. Generally, soil in our area tends to be clayey. This condition can be improved by adding a soil conditioner, gypsum or slate particles. For sandy soils, humus should be added to help retain moisture and nutrients.
Next, you must evaluate the soil structure. Soil structure is affected by soil pH, the amount of humus and the combination of minerals in the soil. Ideal soils allow soil particles to clump together with air spaces between them for water drainage as well as oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide release from plant roots. The best way to improve soil structure is to add high amounts of organic matter like humus, dehydrated manure, composted manure, mushroom compost, alfalfa meal, peat moss, or worm castings.
You will also need to take a soil sample, to measure the pH and amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil as well as other nutrients. This will help determine exactly what the soil needs. Your local Master Nursery Garden Center will help you read the results and determine what to add to your soil and how much. Generally, a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is acceptable. If your pH is lower than this, your soil is too acidic and requires lime to be added. If your soil is low in organic matter, it will often have a high pH level. All plants require a proper balance of nutrients – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Soils lacking any one of these elements will not produce healthy plants. Refer to the Organic Fertilizer Chart for suggested amendments.
When dealing with poor or improperly balanced soils, obtaining “healthy” soil may take two to five years to acquire. The best thing you can do to supplement your soil program is to use various organic fertilizers to meet your plants’ needs and regularly add organic matter; we suggest Bumper Crop Soil Amendments, and Fertilizers. Black Forest, Gardener’s Gold, Pay Dirt and Pay Dirt Plus are all excellent choices as soil amenders that will continue to help the soil structure as well as create biological activity that is also a vital part of developing productive soil.
Soil Texture – The proportional amount of sand, silt and clay in the soil.
Soil Structure – The arrangement of soil particles in the soil.
Soil pH – The measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the soil.
Organic Matter – Various forms of living and dead plant and animal matter.
Strictly vegetarian, an average adult deer can eat between 4 and 6 pounds of food per day. Not only are they big eaters, they aren’t the slightest bit picky. Deer eat over 500 different varieties of plants, but, if they’re really hungry, they’ll eat just about anything in the garden or landscape.
Short of a fence, the next best thing is to take advantage of two weaknesses of deer – they’re creatures of habit and they are easily scared. Anything you can do to mix up their habits or make them think there is danger nearby might be enough to make them go elsewhere in search of food. But, deer aren’t foolish. If they realize the danger isn’t real, they will return, therefore, you must rotate any repellents or scare tactics you try.
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Plants Deer Won’t Like
Deer in large herds with insufficient food will eat almost any garden vegetation, particularly in harsh winters. You can minimize deer damage by choosing plants that are the least favored and avoiding those that are the most liked so plan your garden accordingly. Among their favorites are azaleas, rhododendrons, yews, roses, Japanese maples, winged euonymous, hemlocks and arborvitae. The following is a list of plants rarely damaged by deer.
Chinese Paper Birch
Colorado Blue Spruce
Dragon Lady Holly
San Jose Holly
SHRUBS & CLIMBERS
Japanese Plum Yew
Rose of Sharon
ANNUALS & PERENNIALS
Basket of Gold
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Mother’s Day is just around the corner this Sunday, May 8, and nothing says, “You’re the best,” quite like a living, breathing reminder of all the life and love mothers pour into our hearts. Plant gifts serve as a symbol of growing love, appreciation and gratitude for the number one lady in all of our lives.
From tropical foliage to traditional blooms, capture all you want to say with a lovely indoor plant for mom to centrally display as a reminder of how much you care. Show her how amazing she is with a Mother’s Day plant to brighten her day. After all, she’s always been there to put some extra sunshine in your step – go ahead and return the favor.
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Daniel’s Lawn & Garden Center is one of the area’s leading Garden, Landscape, Hot Tub and Pool supply companies. Owner Stu Strauss has been operating the Harleysville, PA location since 1987. When Stu purchased the garden center, his vision was to offer an array of services and products that help beautify outdoor spaces. Today, Daniel’s offers premium plants, shrubs and trees, soil, mulch and stone as well as hot tubs, pool supplies and other outdoor living equipment. We also provide FREE estimates and have delivery and installation options for most products.