Bark, Bark, Bark – Gardener’s Question Time

It is never too late to be thinking about new improvements to your garden’s layout, the ornamentals regime you’d like to see in the gardening year ahead and the need to ensure that those annual problems of weeding, watering and plant insulation are being dealt with – and that is why garden bark can be such an important part of the gardener’s armoury and could provide the answers to the questions that any gardener worth their salt should be asking.

Of course, it is always hard to get everything right from the start of the gardening year, but with so much to be getting on with and so much to remember, it can be hard to coordinate everything at once. Garden bark could be the answer however, and it can make for a quick and easy way to combat certain gardening problems.

Bark is excellent at keeping weeds down, because when laid to a sufficient depth, it prevents light getting to the seeds of weeds, which, like all plants, rely heavily on light to begin growing. By laying bark on a garden bed, the weeding problem can be kept to a bare minimum and because bark provides such a uniform appearance, it can be easy to spot the first signs of weeds poking through; these can be easily removed with very little effort.

Garden bark is also an excellent way to make sure that plants have enough moisture and retain watering when it’s carried out. Watering again is one of those tasks which during the very hot months of the year, can take up a lot of time, and a lot of resource. During what appears to be an increase in extremes of temperature and with official droughts and hosepipe bans being declared, anything that can be added to a garden to prevent unnecessary run-off of water from the soil can only be a good thing.

Garden bark is one of the most effective methods of preventing plant roots from damage during weather extremes also, giving excellent insulation properties against very hot and very cold weather.

So, when gardener’s question time comes round again, and you’re considering what to do in your garden, it makes sense to think “bark, bark, bark” – once tried, it will be difficult to understand why you never thought of using garden bark before.

Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden

Growing a fall vegetable garden can produce a bountiful harvest of vegetables. The season for fall vegetable gardens begins when temperatures have reached their peak and have begun to fall, which could be as early as August 5th for cities in northern Michigan or as late as September 17th for Miami, FL. In most cities, however, there is ample time for many cool weather vegetables to grow, including broccoli, cauliflower, gourmet greens, spinach, lettuce, carrots, shallots, and turnips. Growers in cities with temperate climates can even grow a late harvest of cucumbers, parsnips, peas, and rutabagas.

There is a trick to successful fall gardens, however:

  • Select varieties with a shorter growth cycle – given two varieties, it’s generally best to choose the variety with the shorter days to maturity. This increases your chances the plant will mature and produce a harvest before extreme temperatures set in.
  • Be willing to plant seeds indoors – the season for fall gardens begins when peak temperatures have been reached and the thermostat begins the trek downward. Temperatures may still be too warm at this stage to support the germination temperatures requirements of the plant. Planting seeds indoors and then transplanting to the garden may increase the number of varieties available for your fall garden.
  • Know whether the plant is sensitive to frost. Plants with a low tolerance to frost generally should be avoided if your region is prone to frost.
  • Consider the growth period temperature requirements of the plant – ensure sufficient days remain with suitable temperatures. Otherwise, the plant will not thrive.
  • Check the expected temperatures at the time of harvest. Are they still within the range that the plant will tolerate? If not, it may not be worth planting the variety due to the risk of unsuccessful harvest.
  • Don’t forget about succession plantings! Calculate the last date you can plant seeds for each variety, and plant a few each week to ensure you harvest as long as possible into the fall.

Calculating temperature requirements and date ranges can be tedious and time-consuming. For those who do not enjoy this kind of work, consider using a garden planner application which performs the calculations and identifies suitable varieties for your garden plan.

When building your garden, consider dedicating a garden bed or two for fall gardens. This way, your fall vegetable garden won’t compete for space in your summer garden beds, which are likely to remain full well into fall due to succession plantings of your summer vegetable crop. During the period your fall garden bed is unplanted in the spring and early summer, plant legume cover crops such as Bell Beans to build biomass and add nitrogen to your soil. Your fall garden will reward you for this, producing robust, healthy, and nutrient-rich vegetables.