Two square-foot plots of carrots are shown in one of eight 4-by-4 raised garden plots at the Cove House emergency homeless shelter in Copperas Cove on Tuesday.

Spring gardening season has arrived and Copperas Cove residents need to know that their soil is unique and requires special attention.

“Right now is the time to start planting spring flowers,” said Danny Carruthers, estimator and designer for Green Leaf Landscape and Irrigation, which recently opened in Harker Heights.

He said it’s important to realize the rock and lime commonly found in Copperas Cove soil can be a challenge.

“First-time gardeners would want to figure out what kind of soil they’ve got and whether they need to amend it,” he said.

Amending soil or enhancing it can produce more and healthier flowers or plants. Carruthers said he would add compost and native hardwood mulch to the soil in a Copperas Cove garden in order to make it richer and add nutrients. Because Cove is situated in a rocky, hilly area, there is less topsoil.

“The hills in Copperas Cove are hard on plants,” Carruthers said.

He said root stimulator is a crucial product that is “very necessary” to help stimulate growth.

“Plants will still grow (without it), but the better the root system, the better the plants.”

One of the biggest errors new gardeners make is not factoring in light and watering requirements for their plants or flowers.

“A common mistake is finding a flower that they like and planting it where the plant doesn’t like it,” said Carruthers.

Another frequent blunder is planting a bed featuring a wide variety of flowers with different needs but treating them all the same.

“Each plant or flower has its own climate zone and light requirement,” he said.

Petunias, begonias, daisies and vinca are all examples of annual flowers that grow well in Central Texas. Annuals grow for one season while Perennials are flowers that come back year after year.

“If someone wants a continuous flower that grows well and produces lots of color, then the “double knockout rose” is for you,” Carruthers advised.

He said the rose can grow to be 4 to 6 feet tall and wide and is successful for many people.

Growing plants and flowers in containers is another way to garden, though there are limitations, Carruthers warned.

“People who like to use containers have to understand that they’re going to need more maintenance,” he said. “The water will go out of the pot a lot faster (than ground flowers.)”

Basic tools

As for basic tools, Carruthers said a gardener should have some kind of tool to cultivate the soil, such as a garden hoe or tiller, a hand spade and possibly a spade shovel. A good pair of gardening gloves is also recommended.

Reading about gardening and listening to experts is important, but Carruthers advises learning as you go.

“The best thing to do is practice at it. … Do the research and realize that it’s trial and error,” he said.

Greenleaf is located at 701 W. Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights.

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