Back in the day (pre-1980), we grew about an acre of field mums at our west store's ‘mum field’ for fall sales. After a rainy spell like we have been experiencing recently, Dad had us out tending to the plants.
The first thing we’d do AFTER the rich west-side sandy loam soil dried out was to side dress each plant with ferti-lome Gardener’s Special fertilizer. We had these banged up old galvanized buckets filled with the perfect balance of N-P-K for not only top growth, but also flower bud development for great blooms that fall. A precise amount was given to each plant, just a pinch between the fingertips would do. We'd apply a bit more as the plants grew. The thing about fertilizing right after a rainy period is that the plants take up the nutrients rapidly as they grow. We would wait until after the water dried in the soil as too much walking in the mud isn't beneficial on the soil structure. Sandy loam will turn to concrete with too much activity.
Dad was diligent about cultivation in the mum field after it rained or had a good watering with the overhead rainbirds. He taught us that cultivation does several things to benefit the plants. It removes any weeds between the rows, and allows valuable oxygen to enter the soil. After soaking, the soil surface ‘seals’ and can suffocate the plant. Also, the cultivated soil surface acts like a mulch layer and helps retain moisture. As I recall, it was when we were in junior high that Dad would turn us loose on Bernise (our 50’s era Cub Cadet) to cultivate. We would have to crank the engine from the front of the tractor to get it started. One thing you didn’t want to do was to grab the crank with it between your thumb and forefinger. If it kicked back, it wouldn’t be good!!
The same process we used on mums back 50 years ago applies today to our flower and vegetable gardens. Let the soil dry, and then fertilize with Gardener’s Special or ferti-lome Tomato and Vegetable Food, which is formulated for vegetable plants. After applying fertilizer, cultivate around the plants to help the plants with oxygen uptake from the root zone. Mulch with wheat straw if you haven’t done so at this time.
Don't hesitate to pop in to either of our stores if you have any questions about your lawn or garden this summer. We're here to help!
Your friend in the garden,
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center
It's so wet out, the fishing worms are climbing trees.