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How Do I Amend My Garden Soil for Top Performance?


“Hi! I just moved into a new home, and my back yard is a blank slate, with sod throughout. I want to built some flower beds for roses, as well as raised beds – one for pollinator attraction and others for veggies. What would be my go-to soil and amendments, please? Thank you!!!” Question from Nancy of Denton Texas
Answer: For amending in-ground soil, my first […]

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How Do I Keep Fire Ants Out of My Raised Beds?


“How do I keep fire ants OUT of my raised beds? I’m in Texas, and those buggers are devastating! I hate to poison my food … any advice would be appreciated.” Question from Amy of Terrell, Texas
Answer: The red fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is an introduced species that’s a painful problem down South, and gardeners with fire ant problems really pay the price. Thankfully, there […]

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What are the Best Edibles for Sunny Patio Containers?


“What are the best produce to plant in containers on a large patio that gets a lot of sun?” Question from Jennifer of Telford, Pennsylvania.
Answer: The key to choosing great vegetables, herbs, and fruits for container gardening is selecting compact varieties and/or planting in containers that are large enough to support your vegetables through the season. Then it’s all bout getting your potting soil, fertilizer […]

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What is the Best Soil for Growing Tomatoes?


“What’s the best soil when planting tomatoes?” Question from Jonathon of Centreville, Alabama.
Answer: Getting your soil and feeding regime right is so important for growing great tomatoes. In general, tomatoes like fertile, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter and has a relatively neutral soil pH of around 6.0 to 6.8. If you are growing plants in ground, amend your soil well with a […]

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What are Good Container Vegetables for Florida?


“What would be vegetables I can grow in containers in Zone 10b? Question from Susan of Pembroke Pines, Florida
Answer: Stick with warm-season vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant, and give them extra care and water if you choose to plant them during the hottest times of the year.
The key to successful vegetable container gardening is starting with large containers, good mix, and choosing more […]

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What’s the Best Fertilizer for Vegetable Containers?


“What kind of fertilizer should I use to grow vegetables in a big container pot with potting soil?” Question from Susan of Union City, Pennsylvania
Answer: For containers, I always opt for a slow-release fertilizer that will feed plants well all season long. Choose one that is formulated for vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Most of these will have either a balanced N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) ratio, such as […]

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Using Sawdust in Gardens


“Is 30-year-old decayed sawdust good for vegetable gardens?” Question by Jean of Elizabeth, Arkansas
Answer: It depends on how decayed your sawdust is and its wood type. First, be sure your sawdust is not from treated wood. (Hopefully you can ask the person who created all that sawdust!) Treated wood contains dangerous heavy metals that can leach into the soil and be taken up into […]

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Garden Preparation for Northern Gardeners


“What needs to be done in the garden to prep for winter? Only in Wyoming for two years, and I have container gardened because I didn’t have land.” Question from Susan of Basin, Wyoming
Answer: Garden and container garden prep for winter depends on what you are growing, but there are a few steps you will want to follow, especially in really cold-winter climates like […]

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Raised Bed Soil Enrichment

Organic matter will greatly increase the water-holding ability of any soil. (Image by Jessie Keith)
“What can I incorporate in my soil on an elevated bed to help retain moisture? It’s very hard to keep soil moist.” Question by David of Brookville, Ohio
Answer: Organic matter, organic matter, organic matter! Amendments rich in organic matter have high water holding ability and keep soil porous to create the best […]

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Do Outdoor Containers Need New Potting Mix Every Year?


“Do I have to change the soil mix in my outdoor containers every year?” –Question from Jay of Burlington, Canada
Answer: What are you growing and where? In general, the organic matter in soilless growing mix breaks down over the years. Not only does it loose structure, causing it to hold less air and moisture, but it loses nutrients, so additional fertilization is always required. Potting […]

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