, Newburyport, MA

January 2, 2013

Tim's Tips: Make a resolution to garden better

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — We have begun another year. May the new year be better for all of us than 2012 was. So, if 2012 was a great year for you, then you will have another great year!

A new year usually means making resolutions on how you will make your life better. How about this year’s resolution being that you will become a better gardener? Let me give you a few ideas.

Resolve that you will make sure that you check the pH of your soil. If the pH is low, some lime will correct the problem and in return, your plants will grow their best. This applies to your vegetable gardens, lawn and flowerbeds and, in some cases, the planters that you have in your yard.

Check the quality of your soil. For oh-so-many years, I have seen customers who have problems growing their lawns.They have re-seeded, fertilized and limed, and yet the lawn still does not do as well as they expected.

When this happens, the problem is generally with the soil. It may be that there is only two inches of topsoil or the quality of the existing topsoil may be poor. The answer is to fix the soil.

For a good lawn you need at least six inches of good topsoil. This may entail digging up the lawn and adding new soil, or mixing it in to the existing soil. Is this a lot of work? Of course it is! If you don’t repair the soil, then you are going to be trying the patch method for years to come. Repairing the soil may also means improving the soil in your gardens and planters too. If the plants are growing poorly in your gardens or containers, it may be time to fix the soil.

For years, I have used the line that plants are a lot like people: They both like to eat!

Make a resolution to keep your plants fertilized this coming season. Each year, many customers come in and inquire as to why their window boxes, hanging baskets, perennials, vegetable garden, etc. are “not growing that well.” I will ask them all the same question: how often they fertilize their plants.

Many times the customer will reply, “Well, I water the plants,” or they may answer, “I fertilized the plants when I planted them.” No matter what type of fertilizer you use, the plant will use that fertilizer up and you will have to replace it if you want the plants to grow properly. If you follow the directions on the package, you will apply the fertilizer at the proper interval and your plants will then grow the way you want.

These are just a few things you can resolve to do in 2013 to make your gardens a better place for your plants to grow. Remember, spring is just around the corner. It must be because we have received the 2013 seed packets in our store.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.