Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Take Your Garden From Gross to Grandiose With These Tips From Local Nursery Workers

Photo: Digger O' Dell's

In order to help out my fellow amateur gardeners, I asked some local plant experts for their advice on how to make all the gardens grow in Memphis specifically. We talked about everything from soil to landscaping to transplanting plants. Here’s what I found out:

Planting Your Seedlings

Photo: Urban Earth Garden

There’s one thing I heard on repeat: the dirt in Memphis sucks.  But fortunately, there are Memphis pros that can help. John P. Adams, President of Russell’s Farm Supply said, “If you’ve been gardening for a long time, or you’ve never gardened before, you have to start with a good, amended soil or you won’t have much success.” It’s a good idea to buy starter soil and some kind of fertilizer to get things going.

Morgan Benson from Digger O’Dell also suggested that “you get something like worm castings because they’re really good at introducing nutrients into the soil. You’ll want a 50/50 mix of the old dirt and the new dirt” (i.e. gardening soil) so that your plants have the chance to grow in fertile soil. Essentially, good soil is the end all be all of getting your garden started.

P.S. John also says that fertilizing every couple of weeks for about a month and a half is a good idea. Just some food for thought ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

“You have to be patient, persistent, and consistent, because it’ll do a lot on its own—but you have to do a lot to help it along,”

-John Adams 

Container Gardening

Container gardening is great for everyone, but especially for those in apartment buildings and condos where people don’t have much (or any) yard space. If you’re planning on potting in a decorative container, you want to make sure that it has good drainage, so make sure to put rocks in the bottom and ensure that you have good soil (see advice above). Lori McDaniel from Country Gardens Nursery advises growing herbs to use for grilling in containers and getting creative with the use of the herbs. For example, you can use the stems of rosemary as skewers for kabobs!

Growing Plants From Seeds

Across the board, I was told to grow seeds in pods first. This allows you to control all the environmental factors that contribute to seed loss. I picked ones that will decompose when planted because #zerowaste. Morgan recommended letting potted seedlings grow as much as possible before transplanting into the ground—because if it rains for too long and you only have a little sproutling, you’ll lose it.

Once you plant your tiny flower, be sure to use an anti-fungal treatment about a week after planting to try to maintain a reasonable moisture level. 

Photo: Digger O’ Dell’s

Incorporating Fun Plants Into Your Landscaping

Landscaping plants don’t have to be all cypresses and holly hedges. You can throw in things like blueberry and blackberry bushes, fig trees (which are self-pollinating, but watch out for squirrels!), and other fruit bearing trees to add some beneficial pizzazz to your yard. FYI, some fruit trees need to cross-pollinate with others, so they have a better chance of producing fruit when you have multiples of the same tree present. In other words, don’t hesitate to make it a jungle. They don’t produce during the cold months, but once they’re established, your landscaping plants will be loaded down with nice fruits for your family during the summers. Plus, I also have to imagine that it’s great for bees, so that’s just another reason to jazz up your yard.

Patience is a Virtue

One of John’s biggest pieces of advice to me was that “you have to be patient, persistent, and consistent, because it’ll do a lot on its own—but you have to do a lot to help it along.” This is definitely one of those things that your grandparents will tell you about gardening, but it’s also really solid advice. He also said something along the lines of everything in moderation. Don’t overwater, don’t over fertilize, and be careful with young plants, they’re very sensitive. 

So, there you have it, advice straight from the professionals!

Here’s a list of local plant nurseries and plant shops to get you started: 

Photo: The Dabney Nursey

What are your best gardening tips? Did we miss your favorite local nursery? Let us know in the comments!

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