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Coastal Gardening

Plan now to make those New Year's resolutions take root

By Bob Hearle

Happy New Year! By now the tree is down, the presents put away and the resolutions made. Don’t forget to recycle that tree if you can. Hopefully some of those resolutions relate to your gardening in the year ahead.

Perhaps you received new tools and you are learning how to best use them and care for them as well. Learning more about gardening and the plants you have and would like to have is on your to do list. Remember there are several courses available at the Waccamaw Higher Education Center this spring. Registration is now open. Here’s the link. Richard Hull offers a slide show tour of great gardens of New England. His slides are fantastic and his narrative interesting. Basic Gardening 101 introduces you to the complete gardening experience of Plant Hardiness Zone 8B, truly a unique zone. The garden club meets once a month and stopping by always yields some new tidbit of knowledge. They all will help you become a better gardener.

As you continue to peruse the new season plant catalogs keep in mind the light and moisture requirements of each plant. Also make sure they are appropriate for Zone 8B. Nothing spells doom for a plant faster than putting it in the wrong environment.

Perhaps this is the year to begin a compost pile. There are many wonderful devices to assist you in producing nutrients for your garden plants. This might be a good time to think about installing an underground sprinkler system. There are several kinds including the spray head variety as well as drip irrigation and soaker hoses. Do your homework, consult a neighbor and talk to a garden center expert. Get several bids as prices vary with design and number of zones. Last year we were in a drought condition and gardens with irrigation survived much better than those without.

By now your cuttings should have begun to root and should be transplanted into a seed growing medium. Provide them with adequate moisture, best done by misting, and move to bright light, not direct full day sun. Some advocate putting them in a large plastic enclosure to prevent water loss.

If you have thought about a vegetable garden this year it is never too early to think about the design. Raised beds do best and are easier to maintain. Building a new bed allows the luxury of beginning with fresh soil and adding the proper nutrients, instead of trying to correct what is already present.

Starting vegetable plants from seed is most rewarding and should begin soon. As there are many varieties of each crop you need to check what interests you. There are “heirloom” tomatoes and newer hybrid tomatoes. They have different disease resistances and many say different taste. More on veggie gardening in a later column.

As many of you know this is the second year of this column and I learned a lot the first year. Teaching the students in my Basic Gardening class and answering their questions reminded me how complex gardening can be, and yet how simple it can be. Learning means reading, talking with more experienced gardeners and, above all else, asking questions.

Many people have lived here for almost 10 years, coming from the south, north and west. They will be the first to admit they still have not gotten it right. If you are trying to re-create the gardens you had where you came from it simply will not work here. Invest the time to learn instead of investing money on things that will not work. Hopefully the courses mentioned above and this column will be of help.

Send me an e-mail with your comments and questions. I will try to answer either directly or in a column if it would help a majority of people. I wish you a happy, successful and rewarding 2012 garden experience.

Bob Hearle is a certified master gardener who lives and gardens at Pawleys Island.

Previous columns

  • Preparing for the holidays
  • Fall garden chores
  • The second season
  • Higher ed center classes
  • Plants that bring the tropics home
  • Chores for the doldrums
  • On the edge of summer
  • Plant hardiness and Zone 8B
  • Green ideas
  • Getting plants ready for spring
  • Reading your soil test
  • Prune plants for health and to promote growth
  • Seed propagation
  • Introduction / Soil tests

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