By Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal
Time seems to stand still when the stressed voices repeat themselves in my head, but not in the garden; an unplugged afternoon seems to melt away like a fading sun.
Gardening is my escape from a hyper connected world of facebook, inbox and scrolling instagram posts. It becomes my inspiration when spending too much time writing behind this screen. A good garden is coffee time with your thoughts, watching a sunrise, the majesty of a butterfly, or the buzzing of hummingbirds.
Gardener is a label proudly worn, but there are some unpleasent task that can be eliminated. Weeds are my nemesis, watering is a bane, and chemicals avoided for a life lived well. Simplify is my motto in the garden. Do something right the first time, so not to repeat. Quality over quantity are mottos above my monitor before writing any garden advice.
Feed the Soil – Start with great soil and you’ll grow great plants. Many gardeners only view mulch as decoration. Composted mulch does make a garden look more attractive, but it also keeps the soil and plant roots cool, retains moisture so you can water less often, prevents weeds from sprouting and feeds the soil. Right there you’ve cut down on watering, weeding and fertilizer time.
Choose Lower Maintenance Perennials – Make perennial flowers, that take care of themselves, the backbone of your garden. Plants like red Salvia, blue Russian sage, agave, yucca and sedums look good all season and don’t need deadheading, pinching or staking.
Raised Beds & Containers – It’s much easier to control your garden with definite boundaries. You control the soil, water, exposure and even limit the growth of the plants in containers. Raised beds separate the garden beds from their surroundings. Ideally, lift the beds up by 12 inches or more. You’ll have the benefits of controlling your borders and you’ll be saving your back from some bending.
Insider Container Tip – Fill containers with Watters Potting Soil. This local soil recipe was created with mountain plants in mind. Plants love the flavor and root deep into the soil without becoming soggy wet.
Group plants by their needs – I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Right plant for the right spot.” Put sun lovers in the sun and ground covers where they can roam. But consider how efficient it would be if you put all your water hogs together so you turn the sprinklers on in one area and be done. The same for plants that require a lot of deadheading or vegetables that need a daily harvest. You can still mix in different bloom times and variations in color, form and texture. It’s just the heavy maintenance chores should be consolidated.
Aqua Boost & Drip Irrigation- This is one of those suggestions that sounds like it’s going to cost a fortune and require a professional to install, but it doesn’t have to. Here at the garden center we reduced drip irrigation to a tinker toy level. There is an initial cost, although nowhere near what you might think, and you need some measurements. Drip irrigation is far more efficient than any other type of watering. It pushes water deep into the root level. Add an inexpensive timer and think of all the time you’ve saved yourself.
Aqua Boost Crystal cuts the number of times you need to water in half. These Watters created crystals absorb 200 times their weight in water that hold moisture at the root leave. Beneficial mycorrhizal fungi are used in this formula to revitalize garden soil and stimulate additional root formation. A must for raised beds and container gardening.
Watters All Purpose Food – natural garden foods break down slowly and allow better update for young plants. Watters All Purpose Food 7-4-4 was created with mountain plants in mind. It feeds landscape plants better, and less likely to pollute your well and the local water souces. Because of the slow breakdown of this food plants have time to take up and use all the food, unlike sythetic fertilizers. Use three time a year, spring, summer and fall.
Prevent Weeds – Pre-Emergants prevent seed from ever germinating, but timing is everything. I use Hi-Yield Weed & Grass Preventer twice a year and rarely have weed outbreaks. Apply now, and again just as the summer monsoons arrive. This winter/summer application greatly reduce the work needed weeding. One bag cover a very large garden plot.
Child in the Garden – Ken and I have raised four children here at the garden center. The kids, especially the boys, spent untold hours filling coffee cans with worms found under nursery pots,then released them into the home gardens. Youthful delight is found in the magic of insects, a vegetable harvest, flowers emerging from the ground, or feeding fish in a pond. Kids like to be outdoors, they just need a mature gardener to lead the way. Show your children and grandchildrens how exciting gardening is.
Until next issue, I’ll see you here at Watters Garden Center.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .