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My Garden Journal
By Joy Brabston



Taking care of roots is the most important part of planting. Nursery plants have a soilless mixture, so they can water every day and the water will run straight through. We have to take a completely different approach when we bring them home.

The soil has to be removed and the roots loosened.

6 or 8 packs - Just loosen the bottom one-half inch and put into ground.

Larger pots require a little more effort. The roots must be loosened and as much of the soil removed as possible. Work the roots loose with your fingers and gently shake to remove soil. Continue until as much of the soil as possible is removed and roots are free.

Rootbound Plants - If it is impossible to free the roots; stronger action is demanded. You will have to cut them in four parts. DO NOT cut all the way through. Use a sharp knife and if drastic means are necessary, a shovel. If roots are growing in a circle, they will continue to grow that way, unless you interrupt the pattern. Spread the four parts out and put into hole. I used a shovel to cut the roots on 750 azaleas and they all did fine. Make sure the roots are touching soil, water and tamp in dirt around them very well.

There are two schools of thought:

(1). Stand on the soil on top of the ground to compact it to make sure there is a good bond between roots and soil.

(2). Do not stand on the soil because compacting prevents oxygen that the roots need.

I firm the soil around large plants by using my foot; small ones with my hands. As a matter of fact, I make sure there is some sort of mulch around them, so my feet donít get dirty when I firm it. (I know, I am a gardener that cannot stand to get my hands and feet dirty.) But thatís ok. There are all kinds that make up this world!


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