51 April 21, 2010

I guess that we all knew that the warm and sunny weather wouldn’t last. Hopefully, April showers will bring May flowers (and warmer and sunnier weather too!).

It seems that all of the trees and shrubs are so much farther along in their growing cycle. Lilacs were always thought of as a flowering shrub that would be in flower around Memorial Day. The lilacs in our yard look as though they will be in flower by the end of April at the latest. If you haven’t fertilized your trees and shrubs, Mother Nature is telling you it is time to do the fertilizing.

The early warming weather is creating a situation whereby it is getting late to put down crabgrass preventer on your lawn. If you haven’t done so at this time, you had best put that gardening chore at the top of the list.

As plants continue to put out new growth, it is time to look at the taller-growing plants in your perennial beds and get busy placing plant supports around the plants. If you have peonies in your yard, they will be producing beautiful flowers in the next month or so. When those flower buds open, the flowers make the plant top heavy. Add in a spell of rainy weather and you will find those flower stems drooping towards the ground. If you put plant supports around the peonies now, the plants will grow through the supports and all of the foliage and flower stalks will be held upright by the supports. There are many other plants that will benefit from an early application of plant supports. Add this chore to the list right behind applying the crabgrass preventer to your lawn.

Weeding is one of the gardening chores that most gardeners hate to do. Weeds that grow up between bricks in a walkway and weeds that grows up between stepping stones or in stone walkways are right near the top of the list too. Many of these weeds are from annual grasses. This means that there are seeds in these walkways and in the spaces between the stones. There is a product called Preen that can be used in flowerbeds to prevent grassy weeds from sprouting up from seed. If you apply Preen in- between the spaces in the bricks or if you apply it to stone walkways, it will prevent the seeds from sprouting for up to 14 weeks. 2 applications per year will dramatically cut down on the amount of weeding you have to do in these areas. An organic approach to this problem would be to use corn gluten. Corn gluten does tend to have a yellow residue that may stain brick. You may want to test it out on a non conspicuous area to see how it will react on stone or brick. Corn gluten should be re-applied at about 4 week intervals to remain effective.

I have seen flyers from several stores that are advertising tomato plants and pepper plants for sale. Please do not think that it is even remotely possible to put these plants into your garden. As I write this column on Monday morning, the temperature is 33 degrees. The temperature is 1 degree off from a frost that will kill your plants. Some vegetable plants do not need a frost to adversely affect the plant. If you are not sure of what you can plant when, please stop by the store for a chat with one of our employees. Gardening should be an enjoyable hobby. If you are a first time gardener, planting at the wrong time can be a recipe for disaster. Even seasoned gardeners can be lulled into rushing the season. Don’t let store flyers determine what is the correct time for planting your garden.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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