We finally had an average winter into spring where temperatures, rain and snow were normal. This year’s growing season has begun.
The goal this spring should be to garden organically. Let’s try to eliminate pesticide applications in our landscape. This approach can be a challenge, but is much safer for us, our family and the surrounding wildlife. Let’s look at our garden as a natural system and focus our attention on cultural practices, companion planting, and plant care. A simple plan to follow would be to develop some natural guidelines and implement organic landscape practices.
In the natural world, mother nature has created a system of checks and balances. In the deep woods, meadows and swamps, her system keeps diseases, insects and animals in check with predators and parasites. In our yard, our cultural practices can create an imbalance between the natural world and the cultivated garden. Severely pruning plants, over fertilizing and installing a plant in a location where it does not grow naturally can cause problems. The proper plant in the right location is one of the top rules to follow. I don’t recommend planting a rhododendron in an open, windy spot. Rhododendron prefer to be planted as an understory in a hollow protected from the wind. A few examples of plants that prefer these windy sights are Lowbush Blueberry, Winterberry Holly, Ridge Pine, and Virginia Juniper.
In the limestone soil of the Harlem Valley, plant shrubs and trees that thrive in this particular soil. Some examples of plants that thrive in this area are; Shad, Chokeberry, Honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort, American Holly, Bayberry, Grey Owl Juniper, Ninebark, Sumac, Virginia Rose, Snowberry, and Vibernum.
If you need to replace a plant in the landscape and have a spot 4 feet high by 4 feet wide that needs to be filled in, use a plant such as a Dwarf Honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort or Grey Owl Juniper that will grow to this height and width. Matching the plant to the sight will require less pruning, maintenance and will not open the plant to disease and bugs.
In most cases it is not necessary to fertilize new plantings. In an area where the soil needs to be enriched, use a mixture of compost and leaf mold with the native soil.
Start a garden journal and compare your notes each year. Get to know your plants and bugs. Develop an eye for pests and diseases as well as plant changes.
When buying trees, shrubs, perennials, and vegetable plants in the garden center this spring, choose healthy, good-looking plants. Avoid those that are prone to pests and disease. Choose plants that are dependable and do not require much maintenance. GO NATIVE!
Pete and The Natives