By Susan Albert
Winter is the best time to look back and consider the previous planting season—what worked and what didn’t—and how you can use that information going forward.
In my case, in the 2014 gardening season I want to add more annuals to my garden beds, and prepare a larger space to grow tomatoes, with a different approach to watering and fertilizing.
I love trying out new perennials. But because they often bloom for a limited period, I try to fill in with annuals so I always have plenty of flowers for the butterflies and hummingbirds. This past summer, however, my annuals were mostly in pots and hanging baskets. By late August my backyard showed only spotty locations of bloom and no flowers en masse.
Next season I want to reserve space to plant lots of annuals, like ‘Zahara’ or ‘Profusion’ zinnias, which make mounds of bright color. They’re mildew resistant and don’t need deadheading. Other butterfly and hummingbird magnets that work well in clusters are pentas, periwinkle, petunia, impatiens, and marigolds (pictured).
I did, however, line my front flowerbed with begonias that provide continuous color.
Besides planting more annual flowers in 2014, I want to try more tomatoes. I’ve only grown tomatoes in pots, but I think they would do better in a raised bed. My tomatoes never produce much at all, and I believe it’s because I don’t follow a proper water and fertilizing schedule.
I used a slow-release fertilizer last season, and this year I plan to change to the Oklahoma State University extension regimen. That calls for four doses of 10-20-10 fertilizer: at planting time, when the first fruits are one-third grown, two weeks after the first ripe fruit, and again one month later.
I also intend to increase irrigation to 1 inch a week during May and June, and 2 inches a week during July, August, and September, per extension instructions.
Those are two of my goals for 2014. What will you do differently in the next growing season?
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