Planning Your Flower Garden

We received a great question from Wendy K. about how to design a flower garden.  Wendy will be receiving a $10.00 gift certificate from Minnesota Gardens for her question.

The first thing you need to find out about the area you want your flower garden in, is what type of sun is it getting, full, shade, or partial sun.  Most flowers do well best in sun, though there are some that are perfect for shade to partial shade.  Though it might be March and there is still a little snow left on the ground, now is a good time to plan not only your flower garden but your vegetable garden as well.

Think back what the area looked like around June 20th, why you ask?  June 20th is the summer solstice, the time of summer when the sun is at it’s highest level in the sky, that will give you a rough idea of the kind of sun you will be getting.  Look around and see if there are any trees, overhangs, or other things that will be blocking the sun.  Think back as to what that area looked like, was if full sun, partial, or shade.  That decision alone will be a huge factor in what you pick and how it will grow. An example would be, you would like Roses on the north side of your home, but they like full sun and will not do well at all in that location.

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 Once you figure out what kind of sun you will be getting you need to take some measurements and find out the size of the area.  You don’t have to get it to the inch, just walk it off and draw it down on a sheet of paper.

The first question I always ask is “What are your favorite colors?”  So lets say they like red, yellow, and white, with that I can pick out numerous plants for them to work with. So you have an area that is 10′ by 10′ and are ready to pick your plants.

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Annuals  /  Perennials

I always tell people  to plan for both annuals and perennials in their garden, perennials to save money and annuals for filler.

With perennials you just have the upfront cost (about $10 to $14) and the benefit of having perennials is that after a few seasons you can divide them and thicken up, or expand your garden.

With annuals you can use them as fillers and bring different colors to your garden every season.

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Size Of Your Plants

One problem that pops of at times is the layout of your garden, and by that I mean how big your flowers get during the season and over the years.

When you are laying out your plants keep in mind how big they will get over the season or over the years if you’re planting perennials.  I myself like a tight filled in flower garden but its very important to READ how big your plants will get.  Without proper spacing you run into the problems of diseases, insects (MOST INSECTS ARE BENEFICIAL TO YOUR GARDEN), stunted growth, etc.

Planting

After you layout your plants and are ready to plant them, there are a few things that you can do now to help your plants acclimate to their new home.  Make sure to have a large hole about twice the size of the pot you have, the same goes for the 4 pack of annuals.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes in the growth of your plants.  I have seen plants in gardens that could have been 60% larger if the hole that was dug originally was larger.  That is important for your root growth, and if you have clay soil make sure to add some peat for backfill.

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Root Ball

When you take your plant out of the pot take a look at the root ball and the condition of the roots.  If they are tight and look to be growing around the plant you will need to break them up.  Don’t be afraid to take your fingers and loosen them up, you are really helping them get started.

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Water! Water! Water!

Your plants will be very thirsty until they get established, so make sure you are watching the weather and making sure you are checking your soil for moisture.  When you are checking your soil stick your fingers down deep into the soil.  If you have dry soil at 3 inches, you can be sure that 1 gallon perennial you planted with its roots down at 8 inches is not getting the water it needs.

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Enjoy!

These were the basics for planning your flower garden, and I will be getting into fertilizing, vegetable gardens, benefits of bees, and many other topics for your Minnesota Garden as the season goes on.

If you have any gardening questions please feel free to email us  info@mngardens.com  If we use your question we will send you a $10.00 Minnesota Gardes gift certificate.

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MN Spring Planting Schedule (Direct and Indoor)

In Minneapolis our average last frost is April 30 according to the Farmer’s Almanac, and our average last known killing frost is May 10 according to Bachman’s.  Our last known frost is May 25. Using this tool from bioarray I generated the following planting schedule with the last known frost date of May 25, since we have had a warm winter and spring I figure you could bump up these dates a few days to a week  if the weather seems to still be nice.   I altered some dates from this tool, when I felt they sounded wrong based on other sources and experience.  I also added planting dates for vegetables not mentioned with this tool that I plan to plant myself based on prior research and experience and Mother Earth News.

I didn’t do the March plantings, I’m skipping growing cool season seedlings this season (too much going on) and I plan to direct seed in a few weeks and work on prepping the garden for that, I figure if my direct seeding doesn’t look good by May I’ll just buy seedlings.  So if you haven’t done the March stuff, no big deal your still fine.  

March
3/23  Sow broccoli, kale, cool weather lettuce, escarole, eggplant and thyme seeds indoors (9 weeks before last frost)
3/30 Sow pepper seeds indoors (keep temp above 78*F for germination). Also sow indoors marigold, parsley, basil and beet seeds. (8 weeks before last frost).

April 
4/09 direct plant beets (Beets remain undamaged even when temperatures drop into the mid-20s) 
4/11   As soon as the soil can be worked its time to sow peas, fava beans, arugula, and radish directly in the garden (I plan to also direct seed broccoli, lettuce and kale) (up to 6 or 7 weeks before last frost). 
4/13 Sow tomato seeds indoors. Sow cabbage seeds indoors. (6 weeks before last frost).
4/20 Transplant lettuce, broccoli and kale seedlings into the garden (use row cover if necessary). Sow more cool-weather lettuce seed indoors. (4 weeks before last frost).

May 
5/4 Sow pumpkin, cucumber and zinnia seeds indoors. Direct seed turnips (3 weeks before last frost).
5/11 Sow summer squash, watermelon and melon seeds indoors. Sow 2nd planting of peas directly in the garden and direct sow carrots and parsnip, beans, swiss chard, cilantro. Plant potato and onion sets. (2 weeks before last frost).  
5/18 Sow 2nd cool-weather lettuce crop, more beets, spinach indoors or in garden. (1 week before last frost).
5/25 Sow directly in garden seeds for sunflowers, nasturtiums. Plant 2nd crop of radish. (Week of last frost).
 Mother earth News says: Sweet Potatoes keep slips moist and wait to plant them until the soil temperature is consistently above 70 degrees.  So plant now if the soil temp is above 70 degrees.  
June 
6/1 Transplant tomatoes to garden. Plant seeds for corn, beans and soy beans directly in garden. (1 week after last frost).
6/08 Sow 3rd cool-weather lettuce crop indoors or in garden. Transplant peppers, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers and melons to the garden if the soil is well warmed. (2 weeks after last frost).
6/29 Sow warm-weather lettuce crop (Summer Crisp type) indoors or in garden. Sow 2nd crop of beans, 3rd crop of radish in garden. (5 weeks after last frost).