It's the soil
As I write rain is beating a rhythmic melody on the leaves of the mango tree outside my second floor window and splashing on the roof tiles. Welcome music. It’s been raining since early morning reviving lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. My only regret is that I didn’t manage to spread the composted manure that I picked up from a horse farm in north Melbourne before the rain started. For some reason plants much prefer rainwater and fertilizer that has been watered in with rain to municipal water. Today we’ve had as much or more rain than Brevard County typically gets in the entire month of February. But then spring weather is rarely predictable. What we can count on are wind, warming temperatures, and lengthening days. The garden celebrates by bursting forth with new growth. So get out and get to work! By now, you should have seeds started, seedlings set out, trees and shrubs pruned and your tools honed and cleaned. If you haven’t fertilized, do so now. Spray foliage of vegetables and fruit trees with a weekly solution of Maxicrop. As you enjoy spring days in the garden, tending to established plantings and introducing new treasures use your judgment and keep your fingers crossed. And for instant gratification there are always the flats of spring annuals that please the eye and gladden the heart.
The single best thing you can do for your lawn and garden is to get your soil tested by the University of Florida. If you are interested read: “Soil Sampling and Testing for the Home Landscape or Vegetable Garden.” Request Test B, the $7 test. It includes soil pH and lime requirement analyses; analysis of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg). The ESTL does not
test soils for nitrogen (N). A reliable N soil test does not exist because the chemical forms of N in the soil are constantly changing due to Florida’s warm and humid climate. If you contact me I can get a soil kit
from the Extension Office for you.
Vegetables grow best in a slightly acid soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.3. Never add lime without first knowing the soil pH. To collect soil for a pH sample, use a garden trowel to take a slice of soil about 6 inches deep from 10 to 12 spots in the garden, mix together, air dry, and place two cups of soil in a container. Early spring is when fungal diseases show up on lawns. This year with damp weather and moderate temperatures turf is particularly susceptible. In summer the surrounding lawn may grow, filling in the dead patches, but if the disease isn’t controlled, the problem will return again in fall. The best way to prevent fungal disease is to care for your lawn properly, since incorrect watering, mowing, or fertilizing practices all make your grass more susceptible to disease.