With all that is going on in our world right now, we sincerely hope that you are healthy and practicing the recommended social distancing strategies. With so many staying at home right now and the beautiful weather of Spring in the air, we thought this would be a good time to share some helpful gardening tips. Cathy Sheaffer, our Emerald Isle Broker in Charge took some time to share the secrets she’s used to helping her plants live their best lives!
Spring Gardening Tips
Many of my friends and family are amazing gardeners and have shared tips with me over the years. My husband got his love of gardening from his mother, who is 94 and still producing the most beautiful flower gardens ever!
I started composting last year by putting most food scraps, peels, newspaper, cardboard, non-colored paper, dried leaves, etc into a big container outside and toss it around occasionally. It takes time to break down to usable dirt but really helps the quality of the soil. Did you know that you can add dryer lint and hair to your compost? Read this for more tips on composting:
If you don’t compost, I’ve been told that Black Kow is one of the best to buy. It is organic composted cow manure and helps hold moisture and nutrients around the roots.
I try to plant seeds inside to get a head start and add some outside later as well.
Some of my favorite flowers that do well here along the Crystal Coast are zinnias, sunflowers, impatiens, (annuals), Shasta daisies, lantana, verbena, hydrangea, knock out roses, Mexican sage (salvia), Mexican petunia, muhly grass, Vitex (Chaste tree) and spiraea bush. My most favorite, but a little tough to grow here, is statice, which is used as a filler in flower arrangements. It also dries and keeps its color extremely well. Some statice flowers are perennials and come back heartier each year (unless you have a hurricane- which is what unfortunately killed mine after 4 years). I just ordered more seeds to start a new batch this season and look forward to seeing which colors I end up with. The purple seems to be the hardiest, although I had a couple of white, pink, and yellow that showed up the first year.
It is recommended to put mulch on top of your soil to hold the moisture in and prevent weeds from sprouting up. The soil here is sandy, so in the summer you will most likely need to water your plants daily to keep the flowers at their best. Fertilize your plants with Miracle Grow or Triple 20 once a month and get the container that you can put on your hose to make it easier, but be careful if you use 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 because it can burn your plants if you use too much!
Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights and smells of your flowers, but one of the best things about having a healthy garden is noticing how quickly the butterflies, bees (some can come from up to 5 miles away), dragonflies, hummingbirds, and more come to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Hopefully, you won’t have problems with grasshoppers- as they can chew through leaves, stems, and petals. One summer my grandson and I grabbed 90 grasshoppers of all sizes from two of my flower beds in two days! Our chickens were so excited when we emptied each jar-full into their area. Only a few escaped and probably made their way back to my flowers.
With that being said, patience is probably the most important thing to remember when finding your green thumb. Be open to explore a few different options before figuring out exactly what plants work best in your area. If something is not working in a specific area of your yard, remember that it can usually be replanted somewhere else. With so many local landscaping experts and Garden Centers in our area, it’s easy to maintain a beautiful garden throughout the Spring and Summer months!
I love growing flowers that you can pick and really enjoy making arrangements for my home or better yet, for giving away to someone to brighten their day!
Thank you for reading! – Cathy Sheaffer