Gardening 101

What is an annual?

A flower that lives it’s complete life cycle in one year is considered an annual.  Generally they do not winter over outdoors in central Ohio.  Annuals have a very long bloom time.

What is a perennial?

Perennial plants come back each year but have a short bloom time (typically 3-4 weeks at best).

What do the numbers on the back of the fertilizer bag or container stand for and mean?

Nitrogen - promotes the greening of the plant

Phosphorus - helps with flowering

Potassium - promotes good root development

What is fertilizer and why do I have to use it?

Fertilizer is food for a plant.  Ohio has hard clay soil and is nutrient deficient, therefore fertilizer is necessary for root growth and extra blooms.

How can I grow organically?

To be organic no chemicals should be used on any of your plants or in your soil.  There are organic fertilizers and organic bug sprays but know this...treating plants naturally takes a lot of time and therefore a lot of patience.  Results are not instantaneous.

Why do my tomatoes keep getting black spots on them and rot?

Tomatoes are susceptible to blossom end rot due to inconsistent watering and calcium deficiency.

Why do my flowers continue to wilt even after I water them?

Flowers get heat wilt too.  This happens when a plant is not used to being in the sunshine or if it’s extremely hot.

When is it safe to put down mulch?

Mulch should be put down once the ground has warmed up.  In Ohio, this is around Memorial Day.

How often should I water my new trees and shrubs?

New plantings should have at least one inch of water or rain each week.  Not sure how much that is?  Put a rain gauge beside your new plantings.

When do I prune hydrangeas?

This depends on which variety you have.  Some hydrangeas set their buds on old wood so those you don’t prune.  Most of the newer varieties set their buds on new growth so you can trim those back in the fall when they are done blooming.

When do I prune roses?

It’s best to prune roses in the fall after the first hard freeze.  However, you can prune them in the early spring before any growth appears.

How do I make a compost pile?

What’s the difference between potting soil and top soil and peat moss?

Top soil is the unamended soil in the ground.  It is generally the top 8-10” inches on the ground that is easier to work.  Peat moss is the fluffy moss that is added to top soil to help retain moisture.  Potting soil, good potting soil, has no actual soil in it.  Our mix of Fisher’s Potting Soil is basically peat moss with a slow release fertilizer in it.  This is very beneficial for those tender annual roots to take hold.

When is it safe to plant vegetables in central Ohio?

Frost date in central Ohio is May 15.

I grew too many tomatoes...what can I do with all of them?

There are several ways to preserve tomatoes.  The traditional way is to preserve them in glass jars in a pressure canner.  Another way is freeze them.  I wash them, core them, and put them in resealable freezer bags.  When you are ready to use them, just run them under warm water and the skin just slides right off.

What does it mean to amend my soil?

Ohio has very hard, very clay-like soil.  This makes it very difficult for plants to spread their roots resulting in stunted growth and less water retention.  It’s best to amend the soil by adding nutrients such as composted material (Sweet Peet), peat moss, or gypsum to help break up the hard clay.

How often should I water?

That is the question of the day, every day.  The answer depends on a lot of much rain has the plant received this week, has the plant established a good root system to get water from the water shed or is it in a container that needs you as it’s water source,

How can I make my yard look like the gardening shows on TV?

Work, work, work.  Nothing good comes easy but there are quick ways to help your garden look their best.  Weed the bed on a regular basis (once a week for 1/2 hour is good), feed regularly with a water soluble fertilizer, water consistently, and deadhead, or remove spent blooms

What can I plant that deer won’t eat?

When customers ask me ‘will the deer eat this plant?’ my answer is always, ‘if they are hungry enough they will eat anything.’  However, there are certain plants that are more deer resistant than others.  For a complete list click here.

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The following are some of the most asked questions by novice gardeners that come through our doors.  Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question but if you’re too shy to ask, hopefully some of these will give you the answers you need.  If you’re just looking for a definition of a gardening term, try our Glossary page.  If you have a different question, please ask at  I’ll be happy to help if I can!