All posts by Mike Sperling

5 Benefits of Mulching in the Spring

As we welcome springtime, we say hello to plants, flowers, and grass that go dormant in the winter. When the warmer months hit, ensuring you take care of all your landscaping needs is important. One way to promise a clean and healthy landscape is by treating the plants and flowers within your garden. When feeding your plants with soil, you’ll need to mulch to keep your garden healthy. Here are five benefits to mulching in the spring. 

What is Mulching?

Mulching is the practice of using natural garden waste as nutrients for your soil. Usually, gardeners will add a loose layer of shredded plant material; it helps save time, money, and effort within your landscaping and gardening process. 

There are several different types of mulch to choose from: grass clippings, compost, gravel, straw, shredded wood, cocoa bean shells, hazelnut shells, pine needles, mushroom compost, stone, and many others.

What’s the Difference Between Mulch and Soil? 

While plant roots grow deep in the soil, mulch is added as a top layer to the plant. While they share different properties and responsibilities, mulch helps enrich the soil. 

Improves the Soil

Wood mulches and ones made from organic materials will help the soil as it breaks down. Insects that live in the soil will consume the mulch over time, which later adds products back into the soil once these organisms die.  

Prevents Weeds

When soil is patted down on flowers or plants, it prevents any kind of weed from growing from the roots. You can add about three to four inches of mulch to help make sure there’s no open space for these weeds to build. However, if weeds somehow pop up during this process, the mulch will make it easier for you to spot and remove them. 

Acts as an Insulator 

If you’re worried about your plants or flowers getting too warm and drying out from the heat, mulch will help solve those anxieties. Mulch has properties that cause it to act as an insulator. This will help regulate the soil temperature so your plants will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  

Retains Water 

Mulch can retain water, so you won’t have to water your garden as much. When you first add water to your soil, the mulch will start a slow moisture process. This will help you save time and money wasted on watering your garden every day. We recommend adding a drip irrigation system or soaker hose to help water your plants and flowers. 

Helps Prevent Erosion 

While water is necessary to help your garden grow, it can also cause your soil to wash away. Mulch will act as a defense mechanism against water and other elements of nature including rough weather like rain, snow, wind, and more.

As springtime approaches, it’s important to take care of your garden, so that you don’t face issues in the future. By mulching your garden, you can improve the soil, prevent weeds from growing, insulate your plants, retain water, and prevent erosion.

Early Spring Vegetable Planting Tips

One of the most satisfying and rewarding moments is watching your garden grow new plants, vegetables, and more in the spring. It’s special to know that these organisms are healthy because of your hard work. However, there’s always a small window in regards to when you can garden or when it’s the right time. If you’re just starting in gardening or you have years of experience, here are some tips and tricks on producing vegetable gardens this spring. 

Which Vegetables Grow the Best in Spring?

When deciding on what vegetables you’d like to grow in the spring months, there are many options:

  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots 
  • Potatoes 

A lot of these vegetables are cold-tolerant which means you can start planting them earlier in the spring before it hits high temperatures. 

When is the Right Time to Plant?

Crops like peas and spinach can get right to planting in March when the soil is ready. Then radishes, beets, and carrots can follow suit a couple of weeks later. Make sure to look back to your seed packet when it’s time to plant to determine the seed spacing and depth. Draw furrows into the soil surface where you want to sow your vegetable seed, then drop those seeds into the furrow with appropriate spacing.

Also, early March is perfect for planting vegetable crops like broccoli and cauliflower indoors. 

Inspect Your Garden

Before you start any kind of planting outdoors, you must observe your garden and see if there is any damage from the winter.

Ask yourself these four questions:

  • Is there cold, ice, or snow damage to the plants?
  • Are there beds that need to be cleaned out?
  • Have hardscaping elements rotted?
  • Are there signs of animals?

If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, these issues need to be addressed first before planting your vegetables. By fixing any hardscaping issues and performing a spring cleanup, you will be all set to plant. 

Test Your Garden Soil 

When growing vegetables, you’ll need to make sure your soil is safe to use before adding it to plant roots. Test your soil every three to five years to see what nutrients or organic materials it needs; you can DIY test your soil or head to gardening stores and find a kit. Once you’ve tested your soil, talk with someone at your local garden center about what specific products you can use. It’s recommended that you top dress the soil with an inch or two of compost in early spring right as your bulbs are starting to grow. 

Gardening can be a fun process, but it can also bring some questions on the right way to go about it. To promise positive results when planting your vegetable gardens, make sure to follow these tips and tricks. They will promise you a healthy garden full of vegetables that will be ready to feast on come the spring and summer months. How will you prepare your garden for success?

Fall Vegetable Planting Ideas, Tips, and Tricks

Did you know you can plant in the fall? And, furthermore, there are some added benefits to doing so. Planting season is not restricted to springtime, as you can plant different crops throughout the year, depending on the season. The cooler temperatures during the fall season are more gentle on both the plants as well as the gardeners. In the earlier part of the season, the soil still has some retained warmth, which allows for sufficient root growth. This continues until later in the season, when the ground begins to freeze. It can also be economically savvy to buy plants and seeds in the fall, as garden centers will offer more deals while they try to sell the last of their inventory before the impending winter season. If you’re worried about pests in your garden, you’ll be pleased to hear that these pesky creatures and critters usually ebb during the fall season. It is good practice to stop fertilizing by late summer, as the harsh winter season will thwart the growth progress that fertilizer enhances and encourages of your plants. With these facts in mind, let’s take a look at which vegetables will thrive during the fall season, and when to plant them:

 

  • Lettuce, spinach, and radishes – It is best to plant these between four and eight weeks before the first frost hits. The ideal temperature range is between 45° and 75°F, and with a good mix of both full sun and some shade.
  • Kale – Similar to lettuce, kale should be planted about six to eight weeks before the first frost hits. The leaves of the kale plant are sweeter when they receive a healthy dose of cold weather, and you can even harvest it after a good-sized snowfall of about a foot.
  • Cabbage – Cabbage should be grown indoors at first, usually from six to twelve weeks before the first frost hits. This may change, however, depending on the specific type of cabbage you choose. After three to four weeks, it should be ready to transplant to your outside garden. Cabbage requires full sun, and will taste sweeter when grown in the cold.
  • Carrots – Carrots are a hardy bunch. As they take between 70 and 80 days from seed to harvest, you should plant your last crop between two and three weeks before the first frost hits. Carrots should receive a healthy dose of partial-full sunlight.
  • Brussels Sprouts – Brussels Sprouts differ from their other autumn buddies in that they should be planted earlier, during the summer, about 85-100 days before the first predicted frost will hit. In cooler climates, it is advised that you plant the seeds in your outdoor garden, whereas in warmer climates, it’s better to start them inside and transplant outside once they’ve had time to establish roots. In either case, Brussels Sprouts should receive a healthy dose of full sun.

 

 

The beginning of fall is the perfect time to plant vegetables just in time to harvest for Thanksgiving. Give some of these seasonal vegetables a shot, and enjoy them with friends and family over a nice, wholesome Thanksgiving dinner. Growing your own food is a sustainable practice which everyone should try at some point in their life.

Fall Yard Maintenance and Cleanup

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school. The leaves are starting to change, and with that change comes the dreaded fall cleanup. You reminisce about the fun you had as a kid jumping into a freshly-raked pile of leaves. When did playtime become work? It’s not all bad, though. Fall is easily my favorite season; the temperatures cool down just enough to sport my favorite sweatshirt and break out the winter wardrobe. The various scents of classic fall foods and desserts fill the air. And don’t forget to make time to go to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch. These things will all come in due time, and completing your annual fall garden cleanup will make it worth the wait. Check out our Fall Yard Maintenance and Cleanup checklist:

  • Water – Make sure all your plants are well-hydrated, as their roots require a higher moisture content to survive the impending cold winter months.
  • Lay Seed – You should lay grass seed early in the fall season so that come springtime, the grass will grow and show greener, earlier.
  • One Last Mow-Around – Mow your lawn one last time and at a shorter length. This way, leaves won’t get stuck on the tall blades of grass, which adds to the cleanup. Be careful not to cut it too short, as grass produces most of its food toward the top of the blade.
  • Rake the Leaves – This should be a no-brainer for most everyone. Deciduous trees lose their leaves as winter gets closer. Rake the fallen leaves onto a tarp to make transporting them easier. You can also use fallen leaves as compost; be sure to aerate them weekly by tossing them around the compost bin with a small rake. By springtime, your compost pile will be ready to nourish your lawn, garden, and other plantings.
  • Plant Evergreens and New Shrubs – Planting shrubs early in fall encourages roots to grow in the cooler soil.
  • Just a Trim – Dead tree limbs can pose a threat if they experience heavy snowfall. For bigger branches, you would do well to call a professional, but you can easily remove smaller dead limbs yourself using a garden trimmer or shears. Be sure to cut close to the trunk, but not at the trunk. You should leave the wounds to heal in the open air.
  • Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter – Don’t put off cleaning your gutters. With the start of the fall season, leaves are beginning to change color and fall from the branches. While most leaves may land somewhere on the ground, there are those pesky few that get trapped in your gutters. Gutters direct rainwater off your roof and onto the ground, and they can’t function properly if leaves are causing a serious blockage.If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, about once a month, then your home may be subject to rot, issues with foundation, and even pests. While it may seem unimportant and something that is easily overlooked, cleaning your gutters should be a priority.
  • Empty Hoses and Turn Off Outside Water – As you may remember from science class, water expands as it freezes. Be sure to turn off the external water valve inside your house. This will keep your pipes from freezing and possibly bursting. You should also remove and dry out your hoses and store them for winter.

With the fall season in full swing, it’s a good idea to start checking these tasks off early. Don’t wait until the last few weekends of fall when it’s unbearably cold and you’d rather be curled up on the couch or by the fire. Keep up with the yard work. You’ll be glad you did when your plantings bloom and you can enjoy the vast array of colors in the spring.