When most of us decide to plant perennials, annuals or vegetables, we often want someone to take the fun out of our task. We prefer to buy the biggest plant we can afford whether it is a tree or hydrangea in a container or other perennial or a six-pack (or smaller) of annuals or vegetables.
The alternative is, of course, to plant seeds. Planting seeds is a little more mysterious because even though the seed packs contain excellent instructions, we are nonetheless not quite sure if we did it right. We wonder what, if anything, we are going to see in a few weeks or months. A few years ago I planted one pack of bush green bean seeds, and when I harvested them one day I picked over 21 pounds of beans which went off to a local shelter. What fun that was! So seeds take more time and attention, but there are very rich rewards.
For those of you who buy potted perennial bushes or trees, a bit of a warning! You never really know just how long those plants have been in those pots. If you carefully squeeze the plant from the pot and find many roots wrapped around the root ball, you must loosen up those roots and soil. Do not plant it as it comes out of the pot. You can actually loosen up about the bottom half of that root-bound soil. Do it carefully; you may lose a little of the roots but don't just plunk it from the pot into the ground. But, of course, if the soil is very lose and crumbly in the pot, get it into the ground quickly so the plant will be minimally disturbed. By the way, you should always dig the hole for the plant (even for six-packs) before removing the plant from the container. (More on planting trees in the future).
One final, very important, thought: in locating any plant, especially trees and bushes, check the label to determine the ultimate size of the plant and position it accordingly. They are very hard to move once they have a year or two growth. Remember: make it fun, not work!
URI Master Gardeners are providing outreach services to the communities of Newport County by hosting a gardening information and soil testing kiosk every Sunday at Paradise Park (Paradise and Prospect Avenues) in Middletown from noon to 2 p.m. Stop in to see us with your gardening, weed and pest questions.