March 9, 2016
During the fall, the ladybugs, flies and box elder bugs looked for a refuge from the cold in your home. Now the days are getting warmer. On the sunny days, the sun warms up the attic and the outside of your home. This warmth and light will bring these insects back to crawling around your home. Every spring, we get people coming into the store looking for solutions on how to get rid of the insects that are inside of the house. Many people want to use a spray to kill the insects. The reality is, you can open the windows on warm days and shoo the insects out of the house. You can use a vacuum cleaner to pick them up and then release the insects outside. In many cases, you do not want to crush the insects. In the case of the box elder bugs, they will release a strong odor if they are crushed. The “blood” will also stain many surfaces. The same can be said for many of the ladybugs. Given time, the insects will leave your home and find there way back outside. Your job is to be patient and know that it is a rather macabre sign of spring.
Speaking of spring, many parts of your yard will be free of snow. The soil will be wet. At this point, you need to be careful to not rake up the lawn. With the soil being wet, you can easily rip up the grass by raking too soon. You should go out and clean up the debris that is on your lawn. If you have a strip of lawn that is near the road, now would be a good time to apply horticultural gypsum to the soil to get the road salt out of the soil. The application of gypsum will prevent damage to the roots of your grass. If you have pieces of grass that have been rolled back by plowing, you may be able to get that grass to re-root if you put it back in place now. You may need to add some topsoil to level off the soil before you put the grass back in place. Once the grass is back in place, you should tamp it down with your feet.
You should be looking at your trees and shrubs and observing if there are any signs of winter damage. Broken branches may need to be pruned off your shrubs. If the damaged branches are long or large in diameter, they should be removed in small segments. If you try to prune off a large branch close to the plant, the weight of the branch falling when you almost finish the cut, will cause the branch to fall and rip off a lot of the bark below the cut. Just take your time cutting back a little bit at a time and you will prevent further damage to your plants.
Over the past few weeks, the warmer weather has gotten a few eager gardeners excited about planting tomato plants outside. Some people have asked about planting grass seed now. Experienced gardeners know that you need temperatures that don’t go below freezing before you can even begin to think about planting tomato plants outside. Grass seed needs warm soil temperatures before the seed will sprout. If you but the grass seed down to early, it may become bird seed!
If you applied a winter mulch around your shrubs or perennials, you should be slowly removing or spreading out the mulch over the next few weeks. This will allow the soil to slowly begin to warm up and that in turn will allow the roots of the plant to wake up from their long winters nap. The roots will take up water and get the plants started on their way back to growing as the air temperatures warm up.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.