Hit the Ground Running!
May is an exciting month for me with the 5th Third River Bank Run and the end of frost dates (hopefully) here in West Michigan. Our last frost date is usually around May 10 so we can “hit the ground running” in the month of May planting our flowers, vegetables and herbs out in the garden. It’s a kick in the “plants” to get our outdoor living lifestyles in high gear as we anticipate the summer months ahead.
When we hit the ground running remember that the soil you plant in is the “stomach” of the plant. The quality and preparation of the soil is key as the foundation of the plants you put in the ground or container. When planting vegetables and herbs a healthy soil will mean healthy plants and ultimately a healthy you! The key to healthy soils is three primary elements, Carbon, Minerals and Biology. Carbon comes from amendments you add like compost providing good soil structure. These amendments improve soil structure so it can breathe as well as maintain a good balance between moisture retention and drainage. Minerals are depleted or locked up in many of our soils. Good quality natural fertilizers with some micro-nutrients will help. More importantly the third element “biology” plays a key role in unlocking the nutrients and minerals to your plants. The addition of beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae will keep you and your plants happy and healthy or should I say “well grounded”. The addition of ground up leaves, compost and some Dairy Doo to existing parent soils I have found quickly increases the “biology” of the soil evident alone by the earthworms, texture and even the aroma of the soil. That’s when I know those tomato plants I put in the ground are going to produce some good summertime eating!
As it relates to Flowering Annuals “lettuce” have some fun and plant one on me! Many of today’s generation of flowering annuals are easy care, all season colorful bloomers trialed and tested for performance and disease resistance. Some of my favorites to plant for reliable summertime color well into fall are:
Calibrachoa,Cleome,Pennisetum purpureum Euphorbia Diamond Frost, “Big” Begonias, Gomphrena, Supertunia or Wave Petunias just to name a very few.
Make sure to plant up some containers and go to pot! I just can’t contain myself when it comes to the countless possibilities of plants and container styles to express one ’s self! When planting in containers remember a drainage hole at the bottom is important and the quality of the soil you use will have a big role in your success. I like to incorporate a slow release 3 to 4 month fertilizer worked into the soil at the time of planting and then supplement in season with a water soluble fertilizer for best results. Pick out your flowers and when planting work from the center out thinking “focal” first, then “filler” then “edger” and finally “trailer” over the side of the pot. Voila we’ve hit the ground running!