How healthy is your garden?

Regular exercise, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is what  … a garden needs. It may only have been a season or so since you last looked at the well-being of your shrubs and perennials, your trees and lawn, but things can grow quickly out of hand or once thriving greenery may be sucumbing to brown edges and die-back. When the system is out of balance, it’s harder for plants and flowers to produce lush, healthy foliage and flowers, and to ward off disease.

Image courtesy of Colin Broug

Like any program to get back into shape, a garden’s health is dependent on regular grooming and a healthy lifestyle. There are things that need to be done in sequence to attain vibrant health and peak fitness, and they won’t happen overnight. At the same time, the measurement of success of any program cannot be determined if there is no defined starting point. Let’s continue the analogy and consider a “full physical” for the garden, including lab work to test for a range of biological markers. The degree to which they show up or not will provide a clear diagnosis of the garden’s current condition. From this understanding, a clear course of action can be prescribed.

That starting point is not the plants themselves, but the soil in which they grow. Soil is the foundation for all bedding plants in both physical and nutritional support. The physical component of the soil is important (for example the ratio of sand, gravel and clay), as is its pH value and the concentration of the three key nutrients for all plant life: oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus.