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Gardening: After harsh winters, soil will need help

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

During the winter of 2014, I had to use a lot of chemicals on my porch and entryway to keep the ice melted and although I lost very few perennials and shrubs in that area, the annuals did not do as well last summer as in previous years.

I plant pansies along side my walkway to the house and the smaller violas between the cracks of slate that make up the sidewalk. The violas used to reseed in that well drained gravelly soil and tiny seedlings emerged in mid- to late summer. The seedlings flowered when very small, creating a diminutive but delightful welcome to visitors. But last summer they failed to reseed.

I think the high salt content of the de-icing products I had to use throughout the winter zapped a lot of beneficial organisms in the soil, so when the frost is out of the ground I plan to flush the area with clear water. When the soil temperatures reach 50 degrees I’ll treat it with a new product called Assure Transplant Success to replace the beneficial microbes found in healthy soil.

Developed for use when transplanting trees, shrubs and other plants, Assure Transplant Success contains 8 strains of Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae and 23 strains of beneficial organisms, along with a bit of organic fertilizer and other good stuff.

I’ve been a label reader all my life and to keep myself occupied this winter I spent a good part of the time reading and comparing labels of lawn and garden products that contain beneficial microbes to find the best products to use on my gardens. Assure Transplant Success contains the largest variety of beneficial organisms and the highest total count of any product I researched.

Priced under $10, Assure Transplant Success comes in a powder form packaged in a 10 oz. packet that will treat a 10 by 10 foot garden. It’s available at all English Gardens stores and United Lawnscape in Washington, Michigan. For more information and mail order email

Appearances: Join me and celebrate the arrival of spring at English Gardens’ Garden Party Weekend. At 10 a.m. Saturday I’ll talk about “Trouble Shooting in the Garden” at Dearborn Heights. At 1 p.m. I will be at Royal Oak and at 4:00 p.m. at Clinton Township. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, I will speak at the West Bloomfield English Gardens and at 2 p.m. I will be at the Ann Arbor store. Programs are free. For addresses and information call (800) 335-GROW or check their website,

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. You can read her previous columns at