Okay, totally clueless here...Help!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Okay, totally clueless here...Help!
3
Sun, 04-06-2003 - 10:33pm
I am completely new to gardening. Always wanted to be able to grow things, just never had the time to learn how. I have NO idea what to plant, how to go about making sure I follow the right steps, etc. I'm a SAHM, with a hubby heading overseas real soon, so I figure picking up a new hobby and getting out of the house all at the same time would be good for me right now. I need to stay busy so that I don't spend every waking minute worrying about him.

Anyway, I'd like to start with something small, a simple bed of flowers outside our quarters (we live in on-post military housing, BTW). A couple of bushes nearby, MAYBE. But definitely the flowers. Considering that we're military and probably won't be living here past next year, I think annuals would be best. But what kind of plants should I pick, considering I need something hardy, that can handle lots of sunlight during the day, and will maintain color throughout the spring and summer? And how should I prepare the bed? Advice?

Blade

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Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 04-07-2003 - 7:56am
Please give us the state and it's area you live in, otherwise we have to go on assumption.

So, with that in mind, assuming that your area is close to or past the last "normal" frost/freeze date: Start out by determining if your soil is sandy in nature, or dark, rich looking soil, or of a clay nature.

After determining that, and that you will have time to work in some nutrients into it, you will need a (mixture) of one tenth to one third sand....the more sandy your soil is already, the less you need, maybe even none added, but if the soil is clay, then you will need to add nearly one third sand to it to break it up and get good drainage.

Along with that determination, you will need top soil, peat moss, and some sort of "organic material" such as composted manure available at most home improvement stores in the following mixture rates. One part soil, one part peat moss, one part organic material, followed by one handful (((or more))) of sand, and one cup of single number slow release fertilizer, worked together, placed on top of the soil in your area, and dug in either with shovel, spade fork, or tiller to a depth of about 6 inches. Now comes the fun part.....water this well, and allow it to set up for one week...

While waiting for nature to take away the air pockets, get yourself some natural mulch, and a selection of "annuals" from your garden center. Remember that cool season annuals will die out over the hot months if you live in the southern half of the US. You can boarder with perrenials such as lambs ears, dusty miller's, or other colorful leaved perrenials, but don't put them into the ground until you have picked out your flower color arangements. Living in the southern half myself, pansies and violas die out by mid July, so I go with a few of them for color now, and place throughout them a variety of mixed colored flower impatiens. The fastest way to wonderful colored flowers, and the impatiens themselves have various leaf color as well. Next to them, and allowed to flow between the silvery leaves of the lambs ears/dusty millers, and even the varigated leaves of hostas, a few,,,,two to three maximum of some sort of low growing, varigated leafed ivy, and then no more than half a dozen of those silver leafed perrenials, and no more than half a dozen hostas. The hostas put out a very small, delicate flower stalk once a year, early, then retain their leaf color throughout the remainder of the year. The lambs ears hold up best for some sort of greenery throught the winter months, and the dusty miller's hold up almost as well, leaving you with color throughout the winter months. If you live south enough, or along the NC coast, you can plant some more pansies come mid September to early October, carrying through with flower color nearly year long. Even some of the heartier impatiens can hold through the winters in mid to lower NC and further south.

I hope this helps some, but if you will give us the state and area you live in, having been in the military myself, and growing flower and other gardens on every post I was stationed at, I'm sure that I can help, and "snow" can add in some other plant varieties that will hold up to either the heat or cold for your area too.

Please let us know what "duty station" you are located at.

Our hopes and prayers go out to you and your family during this time of conflict and our deepest respect as well for the sacrifices you and your husband are going through for our nation.

With Deepest Regards and Great Good Luck wishes:

Mitch

 
Avatar for phyreblade
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-07-2003 - 10:48pm
Thanks for the reply! We're currently stationed at Ft Lee, in Virginia, just south of Richmond. The soil here is more of a clay, I'd think. Very little sand but hardly the kind of dark stuff I'd think plants could grow in.

Anyway, anymore advice you could pass along would be much appreciated. I'd like to be able to beautify any of our housing assignments as much as possible, and I'm hoping to start taking that process outside, instead of staying indoors.

Blade

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 04-08-2003 - 8:22am
Woo Hoo...Another military type who wishes to make their temporary place get a permanent face lift!!!

Here's a recipe to mix into the soil, after you remove the first two inches of what's already there...the removal is to get rid of grass and weed seeds.

One part top soil

One part organic matter

One part peat moss

A handful of sand

Blend together in a wheelbarrow or on the ground using either a pitchfork or your hands. Lay it on top of already existing soil at least four inches deep. Work into the soil vigorously with a pitchfork or rototill

You will find a couple of add ins in my post to (bunzer2003), get that mixed into the soil for each plant, or for an entire area. Then....your area will do well for azalias, and perrenials, such as lambs ears or dusty miller///these plants rely on their leaves for color. Caladiums will do the same with wonderfully colored leaves. The rest, I'de put in some annuals for flowers in an area or two each year, so that you can draw butterflies and humming birds to watch as well. Any further assistance? Just ask!!!

Mitch