The Q&A Archives: early planting

Question: I planted 2 rose bushed in March, and they have not done much at all. One of them has developed some dark burgundy leaves, and the other has developed none. Also, I planted some bulbs, called Hyacinths', purple and white. They dried up and fell off. I topped them off afterwards, but I would like to know if they will come back. I have also planted the seeds I received from you all. I purchased a seed starter kit at a Meijer store. It has the peat moss trays. They are starting to grow, but the lid keeps falling off and will not stay on. I water them after the sun goes down with a fine mist. How will I know when to plant them, or how to speed up the growing process? I have alot of problems with really bad clay soil in my yard also. That's all that is in my yard. I have already dug up my small flower bed and redone it. Is there anything else I can do about getting rid of the clay soil so that I can keep my flowers alive? Please let me know. What zone am I in?

Answer: You are in gardening zone 6B. The burgundy colored leaves on your rose bush indicates new growth. When the leaves mature they will turn green. The other bush may just be slow in leafing out. Let's hope you see new growth within the next couple of weeks.

Hyacinths are early season bloomers and once the flowers fade you should cut off the flowering stem but leave the leaves alone to turn brown and die. They transport energy to the bulb where it is used to produce next spring's flower. After the foliage has died back, cut it off at ground level. Your hyacinths should bloom for you next year.

The lid on your seed starter kit does not have to snap on or make the growing area air tight. In fact, you should raise the lid once a day to allow fresh air to enter. Once your seedlings have developed two sets of leaves they can be transplanted into individual containers to grow even larger.

Clay soil takes a few years to improve but you can do it. Spread 4-5" of organic matter over the planting bed and dig it in to a depth of about 8". Plant your flowers and then spread 2-3" of additional organic matter over the bare soil. At the end of the season dig this organic matter into the soil. The following spring, plant your flowers and then spread organic matter over the bare soil. Again, dig this in at the end of the season. In 3-4 years you will have improved your clay soil and should have good garden loam in your flower beds.

Best wishes with your garden!

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