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With spring just around the corner, with my brain a little mushy from a long cold winter, I thought it was time to brush up on some garden nomenclature.
I have long been convinced of the value of understanding more about plants then the mere fact that they need sun, soil and water. The more we learn about what it is that plants need and how to determine if they are getting it, the more we will enjoy the act of gardening.
What exactly do I mean about “understanding more”? Things like tilth, loam and pH can make or break your azalea garden. Adding sulfur or lime can change the growing environment, for better or worse.
So how do we make sense of it all? Here are some important terms that many gardeners come across in their vegetable, perennial and ornamental garden endeavors. Some you may know, or not, and others may further clarify what might have gone terribly wrong when you dumped ashes around your azaleas.
Understanding some elemental gardening language may help you be a more responsible gardener – with plants that live longer, bloom better and produce higher yields. To wit:
So how do you know what your soil needs? A soil test kit can be picked up at you Shelby County Extension Service. You will be provided with the materials and instructions on how to prepare your sample properly. Return that sample to the Extension Service, and it will be analyzed for you. Once the condition of your soil is determined, you can add granular sulfur to reduce the alkalinity (to make it more acidic) or lime to make the soil more alkaline.
To improve the soil for plants that prefer slightly acidic soil you can add sphagnum peat moss, which not only has the same effect as sulfur, but it will also improve the texture of the soil.
Check out gardening columnist Jeneen Wiche’s work at www.SwallowRailFarm.com. You can find her columns also at www.SentinelNews.com/agriculture. She answers questions once a month in SentinelNewsPlus. To submit a question, send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org type “Sentinel-News” in the subject field.