By Jeannie Hayes and BJ Jarvis
At the end of the year, life is very hectic running around decorating, shopping, visiting with friends. We all need to shorten our “to do” lists not just at the holidays, but also during the rest of the year. Here are a few things that can help make gardening a little simpler.
Gardeners can’t help wanting to add more garden gems to the landscape only to realize later there isn’t enough time to establish them or keep up with weeding. Sometimes, plants may not even make it into the ground.
It is time to step back and find some ways to make garden life easier. Here are a few simple and inexpensive ideas from Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ to keep our landscapes looking good without further stress:
–Plant groundcovers that generally require less fertilizing, mowing and maintenance once established.
–Add instant garden color by sinking an entire pot of colorful annuals into the ground. When plants start to fade, just pull out the inner pots and replace. When chrysanthemums fade, plant cheerful poinsettias.
–Mount rain gauges at eye level for easy reading. Mailboxes and fence posts are ideal.
–Add a rain barrel at your roof downspout to collect water for container plants when it is dry. No guttering? Just place an open barrel at the valley where two house sections meet. Rainwater usually gushes down there. Make sure the barrel has a screen on the top to prevent mosquitoes and a spigot at the bottom for easy access to water.
–Container plants in the sun dry out fast and may need daily watering. Cut the maintenance time by adding wetting agents, such as hydrogels, to your planting mix. Many major brands offer potting mixes with moisture holding gels.
–Stop the spread of invasive weeds by vacuuming the seeds with a dust buster or shop vacuum. These work well to collect desirable wildflower seeds too. Clean the unit well between uses.
–Strips of old carpeting two-foot-wide for instant weed-free garden walkways. Turn carpeting over with the backing on the top for a more natural look.
–Piles of utility mulch from the power company have many uses besides suppressing weeds and moderating soil temperatures. Create an instant berm that can become a holding area for container plants by sinking the pots. The containers will not blow over and require less watering. Use it to make compost on a big scale for your veggie garden. If you have children or grandchildren, running over mulch piles is a great way for children to run off some of that candy-driven energy.
If you find yourself with a few extra minutes this holiday season and aren’t sure what exactly to do in the garden, visit the University of Florida’s gardening calendar. It is broken down by region and Pasco County tasks can be found in central Florida section at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/lawn_and_garden/calendar/.
-BJ Jarvis, horticulture agent, and Jeannie Hayes, Florida yards and neighborhoods assistant are a part of the Pasco Cooperative Extension, a free service of the University of Florida and Pasco County government. Jeannie and BJ can be reached at (352) 521-4288 or .