Gardens - Featured Gardens

Prairie oasis

A Saskatoon gardener tackles the challenge of creating a garden on beach sand, with limited water and Zone 2 conditions

How to plant in sandy, inhospitable soil

step-2.jpg1. Apply a layer of black plastic mulch in early June and leave it in place for about three weeks-the heat buildup and lack of light will do the job. Remove the plastic before planting, then cover the dead vegetation with organic mulch to help it decay; dig a planting hole right into it.

Dig generous planting holes at least five times the volume of the root ball for trees and shrubs (if your plant comes in a one-gallon pot, dig a hole the size of a five-gallon pot). Amend sandy soil with organic matter (well-rotted manure, compost or coarse peat moss) or heavier clay soil with equal amounts of coarse sand and organic matter.

step-3.jpg2. Plant each tree or shrub at the same depth it was previously (indicated by a line on the stem), placing it carefully in the planting hole, spreading out the roots and pruning away any that have girdled or curled.

step-4.jpg3. Tamp the soil gently to ensure the fine root hairs are in firm contact with it.

step-5.jpg4. Construct a 15- centimetre dike around the perimeter of the tree or shrub, one metre from the trunk. Water deeply, filling the depression to overflowing, then a second and third time once the day's plantings are done.

step-6.jpg5. Mulch to a depth of at least 10 centimetres, leaving an area 10 to 12 centimetres from the trunk unmulched to prevent rot.

step-7.jpg6. Every seven to 10 days during the first growing season, put your hand under the mulch to see if the soil is moist, and water deeply as needed to encourage deep rooting. As long as our annual precipitation is what it should be (30 centimetres of rain and snow), the new trees and shrubs are pretty much on their own after the first year. During their second or third season, they may need occasional watering during unusually prolonged hot or dry weather.

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