Memorial Day is the long weekend marking the beginning of the summer growing season. That means that it’s a perfect time to set out plants to get the warm-weather garden show started. Almost any bedding plant or veggie will be happy getting its roots into the soil at this point in the year. You can choose among the annuals and perennials that do well in your region. Here are a few Memorial Day planting tips to get you started.
1. Prepare the soil – You can start preparing the soil well in advance of the big weekend. The idea is to get rid of weeds and rocks and cultivate the heck out of the garden patch. Work in organic compost plus some sand, if drainage is a problem. You might also do advance feeding by working a slow release fertilizer(low nitrogen content) into the top foot of soil.
2. Buy early – If you wait until Memorial Day to get your seedlings, you’ll be left with the ones nobody else wanted. Think ahead, make a list and go shopping at least a week in advance. Pick seedlings with good growth, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the biggest. Opt for compact seedlings with strong stems. Pick plants with deep green foliage. Leave behind those with spots on the leaves, wilted or discolored leaf edges or pest holes. Keep the plants moist and in a cool spot until planting.
3. Careful with the roots – Think of the process of removing the seedlings from their containers as an art, not something to be done in a clumsy rush. Don’t tug. Slide the plants out to keep the roots and stems from breaking. What to do when they don’t slide? Pinch flexible pots to loosen up the roots, or give larger containers a roll. If the roots circle the root ball, separate or slice through them if necessary.
4. Nurture the seedlings – Even plants that love direct sun can be felled by it on planting day. It’s critical to check the seedlings a couple of times a day as they wait to be planted. Spray them to provide moisture, and keep them in the shade. Before planting, you’ll need to water them well. Then actually put them in the soil in the cool of the morning or afternoon.
5. Plant at the right depth – The general rule about how deep to plant seedlings is simple: plant at the same depth as they grew in their pots. Of course, it’s the exception that proves the rule and the exception here is leggy tomatoes. Plant these deeper than they sat in their pot soil to produce a stronger, healthier plant.