Today: Apr 08 , 2020

Interrupt Winter! Court the Romance of Spring

16 February 2017  

We’re ready, let’s get to Spring! 

Watters Garden Center Classes
@ 9:30 AM

Feb 4 – Advanced Landscape Pruning for Spring Success

Not all plants in our yards need pruning, but timing is critical for those that do. The pruning techniques exhibited are sure to help plants bloom better and reduce disease this spring. Wear warm clothing and bring garden shoes, as this is a working demonstration on the landscapes here at Watters. Demonstrations include a walk through Watters’ vineyard and orchards.

Feb 11– Wildflowers: Ready – Set – Grow

Late winter is the ideal time to start wildflower seeds, but you can’t just chuck them onto the landscape and expect success. We share all the local tips that ensure a spectacular showing of these bloomers. Come early, this class can be standing room only.

Feb 18 – Gardening for Newcomers

Learn all the mountain secrets to local garden success. This is an information packed class guaranteed to increase garden blooms and fruit this year. The first 10 students to bring $10 and a soil sample receives a pH soil test done on site with advice on how to improve the garden. 

Feb 25 – Fragrant Mountain Roses

Beautiful roses are admired, but these roses will tickle the nose. Not only will you know which roses are most fragrant, but you’ll have all the insider tips the brings your rose to life with these season long bloomers. 

March 4 – Spring Raptor Experience

We all love to watch birds in our gardens. This class will focus on attracting them with natural vegetation. Special guest instructors will be Anne and Paul Schnell, founders of AZ Raptor Experience. We will be flying large owls, eagles, and falcons through the greenhouses here at Watters, so bring the grandkids and camera, it will offer excellent photo opportunities. Donations – free to the public, but we will be asking for a free will donation to support more of AZ Raptor Experience educational programs.

We don’t know about you, but we’re more than a little ready to put this winter behind us and get outside to our garden! About this time of year there’s a romance that comes over us when plants are budding up and leafing out.  (You in colder zones, it’s coming!) 

You’ve told us that you need ideas for landscaping small spaces, so we turned to the experts for the best advice. They suggested tending to our raised beds as a way to get the jump on early spring gardening.          

The benefits of raised beds are many: the soil warms and dries out earlier in spring than in-ground beds, so you can plant earlier. Raised beds allow you to garden without fighting rocks or meandering roots, and the soil stays perfectly fluffy because nobody's walking on it.

6 Tips for Preparing Raised Beds

Don't ever, ever -- walk on the soil!

The biggest advantage of raised bed gardening is the light, fluffy, absolutely perfect soil you're able to create for planting. When you build your raised beds, build them so you're able to reach every part of the bed without having to stand in it. If you already have a raised bed, and find that you have to walk on parts of it, consider installing strategically-placed patio pavers or boards, and step ONLY on those rather than on the soil.  In the long run this simple strategy makes a great difference to the soil. 

Plan your irrigation system.

Two of the best ways to irrigate a raised bed are by soaker hose and drip irrigation.  You can save a lot of time and energy and relieve the back pain that often comes from standing with a hose to water.

Keep OUT roots and weeds.

To ensure that you won't have to deal with weeds growing up through your perfect soil, consider installing a barrier at the bottom of each bed. Do this with a commercial weed barrier, a piece of old carpet, or the left-over pink insulation used in your home. If you have an existing raised bed and find you're battling encroaching tree roots every year, you may have to excavate the soil, install the barrier, and refill with the soil. It's a bit of work, but well worth the peace of mind.

Top dress annually with Potting Soil.

Gardening in a raised bed is, essentially, like gardening in a really large container. As with any container garden, the soil will settle and deplete as the seasons pass.  Mitigate this depletion by adding a 1-2” layer of compost or Barnyard Manure each spring before planting.

Freshen your soil each spring.

Loosen used soil by turning it to one shovel's depth every spring.  This is the time to add fresh manure, 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food, bonemeal, and other nutrients needed to grow a beautiful garden.  This is a task that's decidedly easier in a raised bed than at ground level! Simply stick a garden fork as deeply into the soil as possible, and wiggle it back and forth. Do that at eight to twelve inch intervals all over the bed, and your soil will be nicely loosened without a lot of backbreaking work. Again, resist the urge to walk on your newly enhanced garden soil!   Here's more for exact details.

Think ahead to extend the season.

A little planning up front enables you to grow earlier in the season or extend your growing season well into the autumn. Consider installing supports for a simple low tunnel or arched cold frame, and frost alerts will no longer bother your plants.  I've even used reclaimed discarded windows and rigged them to lower as protection over raised beds. 

Until next week, I'll see you at the Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .

Breaking News: The Raptors are Coming! The Raptors are Coming!

Last year, Watters offered a fascinating opportunity to see many common and exotic raptors up close – really close! – in the Garden Center. Well, that opportunity is returning on March 4. 

raptor watters

If you are interested in birds, especially owls, falcons and eagles, you don't want to miss this chance to see and perhaps even touch and hold them. At the same time, learn great gardening techniques for how to attract these types of birds to your yards.

If You Go:

What: Spring Raptor Experience

Where: Watters Garden Center

When: March 4

Time: 9:30 AM 

Cost: Free, but donations will be accepted that help support the AZ Raptor Experience educational programs

Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener

Ken Lain is attracted to sunshine, beauty, happiness, success and health through gardening, and wishes to point the way to others. Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or contacted through his web site at