49 March 25, 2009

We continue to have a typical March. March is made up of cold days, followed by warm days and back to cold days.Before we know it, we will be complaining about the heat and the humidity.


We were open on Sunday after taking the Sundays off for the winter. Sundays are always days for people asking questions. I figured that if people coming into the store had a bunch of questions, then you may have the same questions. Here are the answers to some of those questions.


As the ground thaws out in March, you need to be removing the winter mulch from your perennial beds. Perennials need to have the soil warming up if they are to bloom at their normal time. A heavy layer of winter mulch protects the roots of the perennials from the bitter cold temperatures of December through early March. The heavy layer of mulch will now slow down the process of the normal warming of the soil. If you mounded mulch around your perennials and or your rose bushes, now is the time to remove that heavy layer of mulch. Once the soil has warmed up later in the spring, you can then apply a layer of mulch to allow the soil to retain moisture through the summer. The late spring application of mulch also helps to control weeds and it helps to moderate those warm soil temperatures of July and August.

Rose bushes can be pruned now. You will want to remove any dead canes that may have occurred from winter damage. You can also prune to control growth. If you have an overgrown climbing rose bush or a well established Rugosa rose that has taken over the yard, now would be a good time to prune back those bushes.  It would be a good idea to wait a week or so for warmer temperatures before you give your rose bushes or perennials an application of fertilizer.


Vegetable gardens appear to be on everyone’s’ mind. Kudos to our President and his wife for setting up a vegetable garden at the White House. In economic times when people are looking to control expenses, planting a vegetable garden can help all of us to save on our food bills. You don’t necessarily need to have a spot dug up in your yard to grow vegetables. You can grow many vegetables in containers.

If you are in a planting mood, there are vegetables that you can plant now. Peas, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes and spinach can be planted from seed at this time of the year. In about two weeks, you will begin to see vegetable transplants in your garden centers. Broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and other” cold weather’ crops will be ready for planting in your garden.


We have some pansy plants at the store. Nothing seems to herald spring like the arrival of pansies. Once the pansy plants are hardened off, they will withstand the cold temperatures of late March and early April. The newer varieties of Pansies are so colorful and will keep on blooming if you remove the old flowers and keep the plants fertilized at the proper interval.


Melting snow has uncovered the damage from moles and voles. Skunks are digging up lawns. In most cases, the arrival of the skunks and the continued tunneling of the moles and voles mean that the white grubs are active in the lawn. An application of either a chemical or organic grub control is now needed if you are seeing the damage from burrowing or digging animals.


A number of people have told me that they are pulling up large amounts of grass while raking the lawn. This can be caused by many factors. Grass will pull up easily if the soil is too wet. Wet soil makes it easier for the rake to literally pull up the grass plants. If your lawn is still wet from the melting snow, let the soil dry out a bit before you begin raking your lawn. If you are pulling out what appears to be dead grass, it may be last year’s crabgrass plants. Crabgrass plants are killed by the first frost of the fall. During the early fall, the crabgrass drops seeds that become this years’ crabgrass plants. If you have a lot of dead crabgrass plants in your lawn, you should be applying a pre-emergent crabgrass control this spring.

If you did not apply any lime to your lawn last fall, you probably should apply some this spring. You have heard of acid rain. Snow comes from moisture that will also contain acidity. All of the melting snow will be adding acidity to your soil. If you haven’t added lime to your lawn for a year or more, you should consider adding lime to your lawn this spring.


The heavy snowfall this winter has meant that the roads were treated will salt to melt the resulting ice. If that slushy snow was thrown onto your lawn by the plow, the salt can cause damage to the roots of your grass. To neutralize that salt, you need to apply gypsum to your lawn. If you apply gypsum now, the salt will be removed from the soil before your grass begins to grow.


Hopefully, that has answered some of the questions. It may also have tipped you off to things you may not have even thought about doing in your yard. Either way, spring is slowly arriving and you need to get busy this weekend.


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

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