On occasion I have had potential clients call me and ask me if I can till their gardens. The short answer is no, and it's not because I can't, but because I won't. Tilling soil affects soil structure which has a major influence on water and air movement, biological activity, root growth and seedling emergence. Watch this short video by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: (June 29 post)
I know many of you desire a low-maintenance weed free garden and who doesn't? You may be tempted to add landscape fabric in an effort to eliminate or reduce weeds. Don't do it!
Over time, organic matter will find it's way on top of the landscape fabric. This will then provide a media for weed growth on top of and through the fabric. As most landscape fabrics are covered with inorganic or organic mulches, weeds will also grow into these mulches. As many weeds are perennial in nature, the entire root must be removed to eliminate regrowth of the weed. This becomes difficult when the roots are growing into the fabric and mulch. If you thought weeding was tedious before, you will be pulling your hair out once you have a tangled mess of weeds, landscape fabric, and mulch.
In addition, your garden plant roots may also become tangled into the fabric. Any attempt to remove the fabric can damage the roots. If you like to split your perennials and occasionally move plants around, this task becomes much more difficult.
Landscape fabric will degrade with time, especially when exposed to sunlight. It is not a permanent solution. The best solution for your garden is an organic mulch with no landscape fabric. See my blog article on Benefits of Mulches.
Compost is decomposed organic material used as a soil amendment to increase the organic content in soil. Nutrients in compost are returned to the soil, often eliminating the need for additional fertilizers in your garden. By utilizing yard and kitchen scraps, you can create your own black gold by letting Mother Nature work her magic.
Click below for an excellent article and video by Better Homes and Gardens that outline how to make your own compost!
How to Make Compost
Your Calgary garden will require water throughout the growing season. A general rule-of-thumb is to provide your garden with one inch of water per week. This is best achieved by a slow, deep watering only ONCE per week. Many people with underground irrigation systems have their system set for daily watering. This leads to:
To check your irrigation rate, just put a measuring cup in your garden as you water. When one inch of water is in the cup, it's time to turn off the hose.
I always recommend organic mulch for garden beds. Mulch not only makes garden beds look tidy and unified, it also creates healthier, lower maintenance gardens as follows:
retains moisture - a 2-3 " layer of mulch protects the soil surface from sun and wind which contribute to evaporation. Garden beds require less water when mulched which is eco-friendly and lower maintenance.
insulates - mulch acts as an insulator for your garden from both heat and cold. Soil temperature is moderated placing less stress on the root system resulting in healthier plants.
blocks weeds - when weeds are covered by mulch, the light and air required for their growth is diminished. Seeds cannot germinate and grow. Weeds can no longer compete with your plants for water and nutrients, and the garden bed will require less weeding and will showcase your plants instead of weeds.
provides nutrients - organic mulch decomposes over time into humus. Humus improves soil fertility as well as its capacity to retain water. Plants will be much healthier with ample nutrients and moisture.
Popular mulches for the Calgary area include shredded bark, bark chips and mature compost. As the mulch layer decomposes, replenish to maintain a depth of 2-3". Your garden will love it!