Congratulations, Zeghsy! You’ve won the Eco Women Earth Day Giveaway! We hope you enjoy your loot and we hope you find it useful in your quest to live a little greener.
In her quest to lighten up for Earth Day, Enviro Girl spent a lot of her weekend unplugged. She read a book, she watched a movie her family rented, she began puttering in her garden beds and she forced her kids to play with their toys instead of playing video games.
As the temps grow milder in Enviro Girl’s neck of the woods, she’s enlisting her kids as slave labor outside more, too. Since any fear of frost has finally passed, they’re busily pulling out dead growth and hauling it to the compost bins. Enviro Girl likes digging in the wet spring soil to dig out stubborn weed growth. Before spreading a fresh layer of shredded bark to keep new weeds at bay and retain soil moisture, she also does some transplanting.
Spring is the best time to divide and conquer in the garden. Many perennials benefit from division every three years or so. Breaking apart your perennials gives them enough space to grow and eliminates that woody center common in some plants like asters and spiderwort. Any summer or fall-blooming flower can be safely dug up and separated in early spring. In fact, this is how Enviro Girl has populated most of her garden, through digging up, dividing and replanting perennials. Hostas, daisies, asters, lilies, Sedum, Delphinium, coreopsis, bee balm, phlox, irises and speedwell are some garden perennials best divided in the spring.
You can start dividing plants when the new growth is less than 3 inches tall and wet soil makes the task a cinch. Enviro Girl uses a sharp-edged shovel to dig out the plant she’s dividing, leaving a safe 4-5 inches from the base of the plant to avoid damaging the roots. Once the plant is removed from the ground, she either pulls it apart by hand or slices it apart using her shovel. The divisions go into freshly dug holes, where the soil has been loosened up for the plant to take root once more. Many new gardeners are afraid of killing a plant by dividing it, but Enviro Girl has never had a plant die on her from splitting it in half or thirds. If anything, she’s seen them grow more vigorously, so if you’ve got a perennial bed over three years old, shake off your fear and get in there with a spade shovel.
Transplanted perennials require watering every 3 days or so, another reason why Enviro Girl prefers to do this in the spring: abundant rainfall does the work for her.
By dividing those perennials, you can fill in the bare spots in a flower bed or trade with a neighbor for some new species. After fifteen years of gardening, Enviro Girl can tell you she’s only purchased one Sedum, one hosta and one phlox plant. Years of dividing those plants have multiplied their presence in her garden–that one hosta became twenty over fifteen years, one Sedum became a dozen. As her garden has become more established, she’s weeding less (weeds struggle to take root and grow when crowded out by healthy perennials) and enjoying more color all season long.
One final tip: Enviro Girl has transplanted annuals the same way–Sweet Alyssum and Snapdragons grow abundantly from seed in her flower bed. When those spring seedlings grow a couple inches tall, she gently removes them with a trowel and replants them in new places, spreading those seed-bearing annuals throughout her garden.