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Great Bend Garden Club hears secrets to successful container and raised-bed gardening

During their April Garden Club meeting, eight members were given a program on Container and Raised Bed Gardening by Sunflower Extension Horticulturist Lauren Fick.

Raised bed gardening can provide many advantages such as ease of access, increased drainage, fewer weeds, earlier planting and earlier harvesting if vegetables are planted. Raised beds come in various styles: long rows of mounded earth, or raised soil contained by wooden beams, stacked rocks or stone, or cemented bricks, and also can include types of vertical extensions that can be added to facilitate vining plants.  The soil placed in raised beds should be amended. That is, it should not just be ground soil that is usually sterile of nutrients from long use. If potting soil is used, it should be used in a ratio of half and half with existing soil. Best results come from first soil testing by the Extension Service and then using the recommended soil supplements. Using mulch is recommended for preventing weeds in bare spaces.  Lauren described the recommended plant arrangements for various type of plants based on their growing needs such as amounts of water needed and space needed for successful growth. This information is available at the Sunflower Extension Office along with information on the varieties of plants that grow successfully in raised beds.

The advantages of container gardening is that they are mobile can be easily reached for care, can be either indoors or outdoors, and can be created using not only expensive pots, but such things as old tires, wheelbarrows, Bar-B-Q grill containers, and almost any used container of the right shape for the spot where they will be placed. The Extension office has printed lists of the types of flowers and even veggies that grow well in containers in this area. Lauren suggested that looking at color palettes in décor magazines or from paint stores can help decide on the combination of flower colors to include in one container pot. The clever suggestion for arranging plants in a container pot is to use a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. This trio refers to the height, the spread ability, and the drape ability of the plants and flowers.  Container plants need more watering and Lauren suggested regular and regulated watering, either morning or evening. The amount of water needed can be determined by first gradually adding water a little at a time until water begins to drain out of the bottom. Then only use that amount of water each time. That way the water will evenly dampen the soil instead of just running through and out the bottom. Lauren has also found that regular pruning of plants in containers reduces the amount of fertilizer needed to keep the plants healthy.

During a short business meeting the member discussed decorating the Cemetery Rose Garden for Memorial Day. Refreshments were served by Carol Woodmansee. 

The next meeting of Garden Club will be at 10 a.m. on May 20, in the Sunflower Extension Office meeting room with Lauren Fick, Extension Horticulturist, giving a second program on trimming shrubbery and Delores Grose serving as hostess. Visitors and guests are invited.