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Why Plant Cover Crops

Washington County in the spring - a farmer's field of crimson clover.

Growing a vegetable garden is beneficial both for your soul and your fresh food supply BUT each crop depletes nutrients from the soil. Growing a cover crop, when not growing vegetables, is one way of putting some of those nutrients back into the soil.

Cover crops planted in the fall are tilled into the soil in the spring. This not only adds nutrients but the organic matter improves the texture of the soil- easier for next year’s vegetables to reach down into the soil. Think carrots and other root vegetables, or deep rooted ones like tomatoes.

Because the tilling is done before the plants go to seed in the spring yet are still alive, it is called adding green manure. Do this several weeks before planting your vegetables.

Read more for how cover crops help and what cover crops we carry this year.

Can You Really Plant During These Hot Days of Summer?

The summer sun has reached its peak and we are experiencing long, sunny days. You might have been surprised how much of that sun is getting to your garden now that shade from buildings and trees is not as long as at other times of the year. We can see why our part of the Pacific Northwest is known as having a Mediterranean climate during this time of year. It has been dry and hot.

You may have areas where plants have been overly stressed because of all this sun and need replacing, or you may just have some blank spaces in the garden that need filling. You now know what conditions you have in different parts of your garden so you can choose the right plant for the right place. To help you with making it easier to choose that new plant, we are having our SUMMER SALE.

While it is not a good time to move established plants in your garden as their roots will get damaged no matter how careful you try to be, plants in pots are perfectly happy being placed in the ground now as long as extra care is taken regarding WATER. This applies to perennials, shrubs and trees.

Whether you plant in the shade or sun, the same rules apply.

  •  Dig a regular size hole – two times as wide and as deep as the plant is in the pot.
  •  Now, fill the hole with water and let it drain. This allows the surrounding soil to absorb water so it won’t be sucking up the water intended for your new plant.
  •  In the meantime, really soak the potted plant. This makes sure the plant is well hydrated before planting in the ground and makes the roots less susceptible to damage. If you have a container large enough to fill with water to let the pot sit in, that is great.
  •  In a wheelbarrow, mix your compost with native soil and dampen before using.

Are you getting the drift here? Damp hole, damp potted plant and damp soil. At this point, during these hot summer days, you may need to give yourself some hydration too.

  •  Plant as you normally do, making sure you add water halfway through and tamp down to get out all the air pockets.
  •  Finish backfilling, water, and then add a few inches of mulch farther out than the plant’s drip line. This helps keep the soil and roots from drying out too quickly. Make sure you do not build up mulch around the trunk. Leave a few inches. You can mound the mulch on the outer edge to create a well. This makes watering easier and helps avoid run off.  MULCH
  •  Plan your watering routine – use a drip system, soaker hose or do a slow, long release from the hose. The plant will be producing new tender roots to grow into the rich, warm soil and should never be allowed to dry out. Deep, frequent watering should continue until we have the steady fall rains.   WATER WISELY

It is best to plant on a cooler day or at the coolest part of the day. You might consider creating shade for your newly planted lovely with a sun umbrella or, when extreme heat is forecast, wait a few days to put the plant in the ground. To avoid stressing the plant, keep it in a shady area and remember to keep it well watered.  CARING FOR YOUR NEW PLANT

These extra steps will help ensure your Bargain Priced Plants
will reward you with Top Dollar Beauty.

Bring on the Sun and the Butterflies!

Sun perennials with daisy-like flowers that attract butterflies!

These perennialst are just starting to come to peak bloom. Planted in mass or individually, they will add color where earlier bloomers are fading. They grow to different heights so you can even plant all three together in a bed to have an outstanding show of color now through to the fall. The shorter ones also do well in containers.

Coreopsis 'Big Bang™ Cosmic Eye' has multicolored petals around an orange eye. The petals are wine red edged with yellow. Commonly called Tickseed, it is compact in growth - to 16 inches and drought tolerant.

Helenium autumnale 'Mariachi Salsa' has blossoms the color of tomatoes in a salsa - a summer red that stands out in sun gardens. Also known as Sneezeweed, it grows to 20 inches high.

Heliopsis helianthus 'Sunstripe' is the taller of the three growing to 36 inches. It is best placed in the center of an island or the back of a bed. This False Sunflower has a solid yellow flower and variegated leaves. It is an uncommon combination of white leaves veined with green. The light color is a magnet for your eyes.

Dwarf English Boxwood Can Bring out the Artist in You

Dwarf English Boxwood are predictable making them a perfect tool for the gardener. They are evergreen, growing only 1-3 inches a year to a maximum of 3 feet. How you use them in the landscape and how you shape them is entirely up to you! Let your artistic juices flow.

These dwarf shrubs do not take up much space. They are perfect in our smaller gardens. They can fit just about anywhere and can be placed singly or as a small hedge. They also look wonderful in large, expansive gardens. Think of the royal gardens of England and France - yes, the French used English boxwood but probably called them by their proper name Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'.

  • Invite people to your front door by placing one on either side of your entry way or line the walkway to your house with them.
  • Frame gardens, fountains, or statues with a small hedge made from Dwarf English Boxwood. They become a tool to highlight a single object or can be part of the design as in a knot garden.
  • Delineate areas of your garden with them. Show where you want visitors to stop on a terrace or lawn.
  • Create a contrasting mini green wall to make other colorful plants stand out. A tall evergreen, a mass of roses or a bed of ever changing annuals, all work. Your only restriction as the designer is to make sure the boxwood is given room to get air and sun and not have their roots disturbed when annuals are changed out.

Dwarf English Boxwood are easy to grow. They do best in sun/part sun- protected from the super hot afternoon sun. Try not to place them where they can get dried out with strong, cold winter winds.

Otherwise, as with most hedging material, they need regular water the first year or two to establish a good root system. Good drainage is needed. They will not be happy in wet soils. Mulching helps with maintaining moisture.  Fertilize once a year and prune to shape when needed. Remember, they only grow a few inches a year so don't get carried away! These shrubs are easy to maintain and do not require drastic or constant cutting.

If this hasn't sparked the artistic gardener in you, note that Dwarf English boxwood with its tiny dense evergreen foliage is perfect for topiaries and bonsai. So many possibilities.

More hedging choices at Farmington Gardens.

Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'