Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Planting Basics

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The first step in choosing new plants is to choose the proper location based on the amount of sunlight your garden bed receives. Once you have determined which plants are appropriate for the sun/shade of your garden you can move on to preparing the soil. I recommend that you mix triple mix into the garden soil. Triple mix contains equal portions of composted manure, peat and loam. Spread the triple mix 2 inches (5 cm) deep over your entire garden bed and either dig it in by turning it over or leave it there for the earth worms to do the job (Which will take 6 to 8 weeks but is really quite effective).

The organic ingredients in triple mix enrich the soil with nutrients and boost microbial activity. If your garden soil is heavy clay you can amend the soil with organic matter and sharp sand. A yearly application will help break up the clay soil and improve drainage and aeration.

Now it is time to set your plants in the ground. This should be done as soon as possible when you bring the plants home. Place your plants in the ground at the same soil level as was in the container. Fill in around the root ball with your freshly amended soil and press the soil firmly around the root mass. Water in each plant well to settle the soil and make sure there are no air pockets around the roots. New plantings are dependent on you for moisture until they are established and can seek out their own moisture. For perennials and hardy shrubs water at least once per week for the first growing season. If you experience long periods of dry weather water more often.

Reduce maintenance by fertilizing with SMARTCOTE® Feed & Forget. This is an excellent controlled release fertilizer which provides nutrients to the plant over the entire growing season. Nutrient release is dependent on the available moisture in the soil and the temperature. Every time you water your plants, or it rains, SMARTCOTE® will release nutrients to the root zone of your plants. As the soil temperature rises the nutrients are released more quickly for optimal plant growth.