Monday, February 06, 2012

No Rain? Best Way To Help Your Plants

I think I saw a rain drop yesterday.  That was it.  A rain drop.  Here in Central Florida we are now facing our third month with below normal rainfall and heading into a dry spring season.  Add summer time temperatures to the lack of rain and we have stressful conditions for our landscape. 

The good news is that we know that with these weather patterns that we can control how we take care of our landscape.  We can adjust our irrigation, reduce our fertilization and pruning, replenish our mulch, but what else can you do to help your plants handle the temporary drought cycle?

You can add amendments to your garden beds and surrounding shrubs and young trees. Adding organic materials to your sandy soils will help keep the moisture in the ground, provide nutrients that will help plants thrive, and reduce the amount of garden chores that usually come from having 'less than optimum' sand.

Myakka Sand
Our state soil 'Myakka' was designated in 1989, because Florida (an Indian word for 'Big Waters') has more total acreage of Myakka sand than any other soil type. This native soil which is wet sandy soil with an underground layer of organic subsoils is not found in any other state. 

While most new residents from up North like to complain about our dirt. Its not bad. It just is. Myakka sand can provide good drainage, easy to dig in, and does have macronutrients and minerals in it.

Yet sandy soils do not retain moisture very long and can have microbacterial conditions that allow for quick decomposition, leaching nutrients, and nemotodes. Adding organic amendments to your soils is a great way to help your plants survive easier during hotter, dryer periods.

How much should you add?  For a typical 10 square feet, you can add one bag (20 lbs) of top soil, one bag of peat moss, and one bag of manure.  Or you can substitute similar amounts of mushroom or your own seasoned compost.  Work the amendments into the top six to eight inches of your garden bed or apply it around to your shrubs and trees and work it into the ground.

Be careful not to add green compost ingredients, i.e. coffee grounds, manure, in large amounts to your plants as they can have unintended consequences such as increasing acidity or binding nutrients up.  Add fresh coffee grounds, tea leaves, etc to your compost pile and let them age.

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