Seeding and Propagation/Flower seeds and soil
QUESTION: Hi Mike,
My question is this. I have removed the sod 2" deep and need to add top soil. I have had the soil tested and what I need to do to amend it. I am planting seeds for my business, I will have rows of flowers but I am wondering what could I add to help keep weeds out. I am planting from seeds, I am going to be putting in a drip system for watering. I think I should add sand because it is a heavy soil with clay amongst it. Can you tell me what is the best method for planting the seeds, should I spray the dirt with a weed killer since there is weeds already growing then add the new soil and plant the seeds? I just want to get the seeds started as soon as possible as this will be the money maker for my business. thank you for any advice. Thanks, Karen
ANSWER: Most weed killers leave a residue for several weeks and will do harm to new seedlings after they germinate. I would mulch around the plants with an organic amendment such as peat moss or shredded leaves to a depth of 2 inches. This should prevent any weeds from germinating. It will also serve to cool the soil in the summer, reducing the need to water. It will eventually break down and add to the health of the soil.
Since you can never totally eliminate weeds, I would also purchase a ratchet weeder. These are handy devices that allow you cut the weeds at their base. The ratcheting mechanism allows you to push and pull. And since it is on a long handle, there is no need for bending or pulling. These are available at most garden centers and home centers.
For beds where you will be planting transplants, Preen is a great product for preventing weeds. However, since it is a pre-emergent powder, it also prevents vegetable and flower seeds from germinating. That is why it can only be used in beds with pre-grown seedlings.
In regard to planting advice, you are doing the correct thing by adding organic matter to the soil. This will greatly improve the fertility of the soil and also enhance the composition. Although sand will help loosen the soil, the composted products will do the same job.
I hope this information helps. Please write again if I can ever provide assistance.
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QUESTION: Hi Mike, I have another question. Can I use hardwood mulch, till it into the soil then add aged manure, plant the seeds then add a layer of mulch, about an inch on top of the seeds? Would this be a good thing to do? Also is there a difference from hardwood mulch as to using a mulch from an assortment of trees? We have a pile of free mulch that I could go get by the truck load but I want to make sure if there is pine, or maple in it does that affect anything...Thank you for your time..
Karen, I only use hardwood mulch around established flowers and ornamentals. I believe in using compost or shredded leaves around vegetables and when growing from seed.
These lighter materials are more porous and allow seeds to germinate more successfully, as well as allowing water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil more effectively. The materials you mentioned will do no harm, but I believe composted materials are much more beneficial for seeds and vegetables.
Good luck, and have a great weekend.