Avoid common gardening mistakes

Wonder what the common mistakes are in gardening? Here are a few to ponder. No priority order is intended.

n Wasting water during irrigation. We live in an arid climate; satisfy the needs of the plant, without drowning it. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to avoid water loss to wind. Mulch to keep soil from drying out. Water early in the morning. Plants don't grow on the sidewalk, so don't water it. Water deeply, less often. Water the soil around the plant, rather than the foliage.

n Using the wrong plant. Wrong can mean disease- or insect-prone, too large at maturity for the location, too delicate for the climate or too water-thirsty. Know your plant's needs and think ahead.

n Not considering exposure. Does your plant need full sun or shade?

n Not knowing pollination requirements. Some trees need two different varieties near each other to bear fruit. "Bing" cherry does well with a "Black Tartarian" and vice versa. Check a "Sunset Western Garden Book" or ask a reputable nursery. Sometimes a pollinator can be grafted onto the tree you want to bear fruit.

n Spraying too many chemicals and killing all the insects that spread the pollen from tree to tree and vegetable to vegetable.

n Planting too early. Tender plants can freeze easily. The average last frost date in this area is May 15, and the average first frost date is Sept. 15. Know your microclimate. Many areas are colder longer. A few lucky areas are warmer sooner.

n Planting too closely together. Never thinning the carrots or lettuces reduces yield. Planting trees too closely doesn't allow them to grow their best, and creates competition for water and nutrients. Tomatoes should be 3 feet to 4 feet apart.

n Cutting bulb foliage too soon. If you cut the foliage of your tulips or daffodils before it has completely browned out, you reduce the food production for next year's blooms.

n Fertilizing improperly. Using weed killer-fertilizer combinations isn't the best method for feeding the lawn. Avoid applying fertilizer after early June unless you use a slow-release one. Too much fertilizer applied during the hot summer in the heat encourages lawn diseases.

If you have any questions about these tips, they can be found online at: http://houseandhome.msn.com. Call 887-2252 or 782-9960.

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For more information on gardening, call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Or for horticulture publications, log on to: www.unce.unr.edu/publications/horticulture.html. "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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