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Tips from an 89 Year Old Gardener

Co-founders Anne and Will’s father, Dr. William McKinnon Massie, has done a fair amount of gardening in his 89 years. He grew up on a farm, so you could say that growing things is in his blood. In honor of Father’s Day, we reached out to Dr. Massie for some tips from his years of experience as the family’s original green thumb.

  1. It is important to give plants extremely good care for the first three months after planting and to make sure they are being watered enough. Plants need to develop a strong root system that will pick up moisture and nutrients, so these first three months are crucial for future growth.

  2. But don’t forget about watering plants after those first three months! Watering plants is always extremely important

  3. Make sure that you have both good soil and good drainage. Test your soil if you are unsure and amend any problems you find.

  4. Take the long view in gardening. Think about what your plant will look like when it matures. You’ll often find yourself planting something that will be at its best way into the future.

  5. Everything is after something – aphids, deer, caterpillars. Don’t get discouraged.

  6. Read what the experts say about plants. A favorite book of mine is Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Michael Dirr. He makes great recommendations and explains why certain trees are his favorites.

  7. Use plants that are native to your area when planning your garden. There is a reason that they do well in your particular climate.

  8. You can always tell a real gardener by their hands. They are calloused and worn from hard work!

  9. My favorite gardening tool is a rain gauge. It’s really important to know how much moisture is in the soil.

  10. Plant small. Potted or ball and burlap trees are often pot bound. Sometimes you are better off choosing the smaller tree. This is really true with Oak trees that develop large root systems when they are young. Often the acorn will catch the larger oak tree.

  11. If a plant isn’t doing well, try transplanting it until it is happy and finds a perfect home.

  12. Privacy is the ultimate luxury. Don’t be afraid to screen out your neighbors. Just make sure that what you plant will increase their enjoyment as well. Slower growing plants tend to be more beautiful in the long run.
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