April 30, 2008
The end of April. All in all, a pretty good month for doing things in the garden. Now we head into May and the real fun begins in the garden. Soon, there will be so much to do and hopefully, the weather will continue to co-operate.
Soon, the forsythia will be done with their flowering period. Once the forsythia is done flowering, it is time to cut the shrub back by about one third. This will help to keep the shrub to a reasonable size, and allow the plant to put out lots of new growth. This new growth will then produce lots of flower buds for 2009. It is important to cut the plant back as soon as it is done flowering. If you wait until summer or fall to prune back the forsythia, you will be pruning out the flower buds for 2009. When you are done pruning the forsythia, apply a fertilizer around the base of the plant. The fertilizer will help in the formation of new flower buds.
With the approach of May, some of the early flowering bulbs will soon be done flowering. An example of this is your Daffodils and Hyacinth. Once these bulbs are finished flowering, you should cut off the old flower stalks, but it is important to allow the leaves to remain on the plant. The leaves are making food to store in the bulb for next years’ flowers. The leaves will need to have a ready source of fertilizer in the soil to help in the formation of that food. For this reason, it is important to fertilize spring flowering bulbs as soon as they are done flowering. The leaves must be allowed to remain on the plant until the leaves begin to turn yellow. Once the leaves begin to turn yellow, you can cut the leaves off at the surface of the soil. If you cut the leaves back before they naturally begin to turn yellow, you run the risk of the bulbs not having enough stored food to allow the bulbs to flower next year.
Earlier in the column, I told you about the forsythia bushes losing their flowers. The dropping of the forsythia flowers also means that it is about the last chance for you to apply a crabgrass control to your lawn. Soon the crabgrass seed will be sprouting and you will need to have the control on the lawn to kill the seed as it sprouts.
Speaking of lawns, Dave from Newburyport asked a question concerning applying lime to his lawn. He wanted to know if he should apply lime to the lawn more than once a year. The correct answer would depend on the Ph of the soil. If the soil is extremely acidic, it would be advisable to apply lime in the spring and possibly again in the fall. The way to determine when and how much lime to apply would depend on the results of running a soil test using a Ph test kit. The kit allows you to add soil to a test tube, add water and a test chemical and then comparing the test results with an enclosed chart. If the test shows a very acidic soil, you would apply lime to your lawn. If you run a second test in the fall, you may find that the soil is still acidic enough to require a second application of lime. As a general rule of thumb, you should probably apply lime at least once a year to your lawn. However, the Ph test is the best way to determine how often you should lime and how much lime you should be applying based on the results of the test. You should be able to buy Ph test kits at any garden center.
It is still a bit early for planting tomato plants and pepper plants. Never be fooled by warm weather in April. April warm weather so often is followed by cold weather and frost in early May. Once frost hits tomato plants and pepper plants, you will be buying new plants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.