55 March 22, 2008
As we wind down the month of March, we begin to be able to do some things in the garden. Let me give you a list of homework for you to do over the next few weeks.
If you want to get outside and do a few things, you can begin to remove some of the mulch that you used to winterize your plants. You should remove about half the thickness of the mulch you applied in the fall. This allows the ground to begin to thaw and allows the plants to begin to wake up from their long winter’s nap. Remove the other half of the mulch you placed around shrubs in about a week. Your perennial beds need to begin to get growing but still need a bit of protection as they acclimate to a new growing season. If you remove half the mulch now and another half in a week to 10 days, the roots will begin to start growing and top growth will begin to appear. I don’t think I would put any fertilizer down yet. The plants need to acclimate to a new growing season. I would guess that the first week of April would be the right time. If you mulched your spring flowering bulbs, you should thin out the mulch in those flowerbeds. Tulips, Daffodils, hyacinth and crocus are very cold tolerant plants. Even if the temperatures get very cold, the plants won’t be harmed. After all, many of these plants will be flowering in the next month or so. They need time to grow if you want flowers!
Speaking about new growth in your gardens, you are not the only one enjoying the new growth of spring plants. Many people are having a problem with rabbits, deer and squirrels eating the new growth on perennials and even some of the new growth on spring flowering bulbs. You need to apply an animal repellent to the new growth to discourage the animals from eating your plants. If you break them of the habit of visiting your yard, you should be able to enjoy your plants.
As the ground thaws on your lawn, you will probable notice moss growing in the lawn. A wet winter usually means more moss growing in lawns. If you just rip up the moss, it will return. You need to apply a moss killer to the moss. This will kill the moss and allow you to remove the moss once the moss turns black. Oh, by the way, it is too early to be putting down grass seed. Wait for warmer weather in April.
If the soil has dried a bit in your vegetable garden, you can plant peas now. Peas like the cool soil temperatures of late march and April. Get those peas in the garden sooner rather than later.
I received a note from Sheila asking about pruning rose bushes now. You can prune rose bushes now. When you begin to prune, remove any of the branches or canes that are black in color. These are dead parts of the plant. Cut back until you see green wood under the bark. You can prune rose bushes to decrease the overall size of the plant. It would be a safe bet to prune back all of the cane by about 1/3 to ½. This will cause the rose bush to put out lots of new growth in the warmer weather. When you are pruning, you should try not to cut off any of the major canes that come up from the roots. If that part is dead, you don’t have a lot of choice in cutting it off, but for the most part you should leave those major canes alone.
Well, that’s all for this week. The Easter holiday means tulip, daffodil, hyacinth and other spring flowering plants will be available in your local garden centers. Even if you don’t celebrate Easter, you still can enjoy the plants.