I know that we’ve been looking for new hobbies during quarantine and a lot of us have taken up gardening (or have tried to). Apparently, spring sales at plant nurseries had seen more of increase this year than they have in the past six years! I even planted a small garden, even though I barely manage to keep succulents and a cactus alive on a daily basis.
So, in order to help out my fellow amateur gardeners, I asked some local plant nurseries for their advice on how to make all the gardens grow.
Planting Your Seedlings
One of the main things that I kept hearing is that the dirt in Memphis sucks, so you need to get a starter soil and some kind of fertilizer to get things going. 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.”
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 also 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 said.
If you’re planning on growing vegetables in a decorative container, “you want to make sure that it has good drainage, so make sure to put rocks in the bottom” and remember the other tips that Morgan offered about your potting soil.
Functional Container Gardening Tip: Lori McDaniel from Country Gardens Nursery mentioned that you can grow herbs to use for grilling, and that you can use the stems of rosemary as skewers for kabobs. Who would have thought?
Growing Plants From Seeds
Across the board, I was told to grow seeds in pods first which allows you to control all the environmental factors that contribute to seed loss. I picked ones that will decompose when planted, #zerowaste. Morgan did tell me, however, to let 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, use an anti-fungal treatment about a week after planting to try to maintain a reasonable moisture level.
What You Can Start Getting Ready for the Cool Season
Since that summer heat has been hitting us with a vengeance in Memphis, the opportunity to plant certain vegetation has already gone out the window. Fortunately, there are some cool season vegetables, also known as cole crops, that you can prepare to plant now so you can harvest them during the fall—specifically squash and gourds. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, most things in the root or squash families, okra, peppers (if you can believe that), and leafy greens excel during cooler months, according to Lori.
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, plus fig trees (which are apparently 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! While it may be too hot to start growing any young vegetables now, you can hold off for a little while and start growing fall vegetables around mi-August. So, follow our plant sages’ advice and enjoy your fall garden!
Here’s a list of local plant nurseries to get you started:
- Russell’s Farm Supply
- Digger O’Dell
- Country Gardens Nursery
- The Dabney Nursery
- Urban Earth Garden Center
- Dan West Garden Center
- Giaroli’s Nursery and Landscaping
- Bartlett Nursery
- Arrowhead Nursery
- Millstone Market and Nursery