I planted a xeriscape garden last year & put "yum yum" mix (from High Country Gardens) in the bottom of each hole. I plan to fertilize again this fall. I'm hoping to get some guidelines, here, for fertilizers - ie. what #'s or ingredients should I look for. Should I add worm castings, alfalfa, etc.? Any suggestions are welcome. I'm planning to fertilize each fall & add compost each spring, going forward - does that make sense?
Yum-yum mix is good. I've had my best success with mineral additions to my soil to boost the elements where it was low and adding minimal amounts of organic matter at the surface. (This is basically what yum-yum mix is). I'd recommend you get a soil test done so that you know what minerals you do and don't have. Look at the yum-yum and consider other products to make sure you are adding enough of what you are short in. I would also recommend a mycorrhizal fungi addition as the fungi will help feed the plants. For Fall/Spring additions, all I do is add them at the soil surface, scratching the top 1/4 inch or so of the soil. I use more minerals in the Fall and more organic matter (compost) in the Spring.
Your Xeriscape plants won't all prefer the exact same kind of soil and amendments. I'm not familiar with your climate zone, but as a generalization: if it is a very LOW water plant, it probably needs needs the crown protected from excess moisture. So avoid organic mulch, peat, compost, alfalfa pellets, etc, around the crown where they would tend to hold water.
Thanks pollengarden. My goal in planting a xeriscape garden is reducing water needs. We have been experiencing drought conditions for a few years now & I don't anticipate that changing long-term. Thanks for the reminder to keep amendments away from the crown of the plants.
My gardening background is extensive and researched CA natives and dry plantings, they don't want fertilizer, you'll kill them with kindness or encourage pathogens. Compost has too many nutrients, the plants will grow fast and die early. find an acceptable wood type mulch that is aged and lay it on thick between plants, it will settle over winter. It has a bit of nitrogen so it won't rob the plants, that's when leaves turn yellow with a few green veins.
Our area doesn't have thick rich leaf matter like back east where I grew up. Mediterranean climates are dry, rocky shallow soils and well draining for the most part. Mulch conserves water and the worms will surface and slowly mix the organic and mineral with their castings and fertilize plus aerate.
I have read books on this and it's better to go slow, let the plants get their roots out naturally. The rule with natives is first year they sleep (getting roots out). 2nd year they creep, 3rd they leap. Always find the mature size height and width, plant accordingly over planting I found is a mistake. I always look for smaller varieties because they mature nicely and don't need as much maintenance.
Well, that's more than two bits of advice for one night