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  • Writer's pictureClaire Goldman

Back to the Basics

My sister is a 5’ tall attorney in Atlanta. She can argue her way through absolutely anything. You don’t mess with her. She’s pretty hard core. She and I talk at least once a day, but probably more like 5-10 times a day. In response to my previous post about herbs, our conversation went something like this:

Laura: I really liked it, but I need more information. Like how do you plant herbs?

Me: I don’t understand. You stick them in the dirt and water them.

Laura: But I didn’t KNOW that. You need to TELL me that.

Me: I feel like most people would know that…

Laura: Well, I didn’t!

So, for all you novice gardener’s out there, this one’s for you!

Plants need four things to survive: soil, water, sunlight, and love. Yes, they need love. I promise they will perform better if you love them. This is not up for discussion. It’s the truth.

Some plants like more light than others, some like more water than others. It’s important to do your research and find the right location for your plants OR the right plant for the location you have based on the species requirements. However, once you have chosen the plant and the location, planting them is pretty much the same across the board.

Meet Will. He’s really excited that all his friends are at the beach for Spring Break and he’s here teaching his aunt how to plant.

Let’s start with soil. Preparing the soil properly is key. If you have beautiful, soft, black, soil, consider yourself in the minority and skip this part. For the rest of us who have to fight with red clay every day, there are a few things you can do. Make sure you dig a big hole about twice the width of the root ball. Once your hole is dug, score the walls of the hole with your shovel. This just gives the roots a little help penetrating the native soil. Take the red clay you dug out of the hole and mix it up with some good organic matter.

Here’s where the love comes in. Carefully remove your plant from the pot. I’m telling you, these plants know when you are being rough. No man handling. Be gentle. Love the plant. Give those roots a little massage.

They’ve been cooped up in that pot for a long time. They may need a little help to stretch out and grow properly.

Place the plant in the hole. The top of the root ball should be flush with the top of the soil. Back fill around the plant with your native soil/organic matter mix. Water it in really well (like, completely soak the root ball down) and add some mulch to cover the exposed soil.

Depending on the species’ water requirements, it’s always good to come back and check the soil with your finger. If it’s dry, water it. There’s no magic calculation. If the air is hot, plants need more water. They are actively growing and competing for the water. If we’ve gotten a good rain, you probably can wait a day or two. You have to adjust based on the environment. There will be a little trial and error until you really get to know your plants and your soil.

Once you get the hang of it, you can surround yourself with beauty and love!

Go out, break a sweat, and get your hands dirty this weekend! It's good for you!

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