- Cover your plants with old burlap sacks or sheets, draped loosely and secured with bricks, rocks, or stakes. Do this before sunset to keep them warm, and remove covers in the morning to avoid suffocation.
- Lightly water your beds in the evening before the temperature drops, a day or two before the anticipated frost. Wet soil retains heat. Don’t saturate your plants, or they might be injured by frost heave.
- Mulch your plants. Research each species to determine if they’re better off covered. Use bark, pine needles, straw, or loose leaves with a depth of two to three inches.
- Cold frames are best for tender plants. Buy them or construct your own with brick, cinder blocks, or wood sides and old storm windows for the tops. Hoop houses, or mini greenhouses, are perfect for protecting vegetables.
- Raised bed designs also thwart the frost; cold air collects and remains in sunken or low areas, and raised beds make it easier to cover the plants.
Over time, even healthy soil becomes tired and worn. In fact, it is inevitable that as the years pass, nutrients will slowly disappear from your gardens and flower boxes, and pH levels will fluctuate. That is why it is important to take care of your soil and give it a little extra help from time to time.
Since it is planting season, now would be a good time to test the pH levels in your soil before you put the first seeds or roots into the dirt. If your soil is too acidic, you’ll want to add some limestone, ash, bone meal, or even crushed marble to increase its alkalinity. Conversely, if you’re planting blueberries or other plants that require acidic soil, you may need to add gypsum or sulfur so those plants will thrive.
Once the pH in your soil is balanced, then it’s a good idea to add some compost or other fertilizer so that your plants will have plenty of nutrients to absorb as they grow throughout the spring and summer.
To maintain healthy soil, drain standing water and use paths around your plants so you’re not causing soil compaction from treading. Mulch can be a soil’s best friend in protecting it from erosion, too.
If you need some help with your garden’s soil, stop by Rosehill Gardens where our master gardeners have the greenest thumbs in Kansas City. Plus, take a look at our expert Plant Care Guide to keep your blooming plants in green shape.
Image courtesy of Flickr.