April 4, 2019
You know that you live in New England when Sunday gives you temperatures in the high 60’s and on Tuesday morning you wake up to 24 degrees. Welcome to Spring!
With the weird weather, you may be asking yourself what you can be doing in your gardens. Let me give you a list of things that you can be doing now.
Many of you placed mulch over your perennial beds in the late fall. If you mounded up bark mulch around your plants, it is time to start pulling that mulch back and letting the sun warm up the ground. If you applied salt marsh hay over the plants, you can remove about ½ now and the other half in a week or so. By removing the winter mulch starting now, you will allow the soil to gradually warm up and to let the plants to slowly come back to growing after their long winter nap.
If you have a vegetable garden, there are things that you can plant in your garden now. If the soil is too wet to turn over, you may need to wait until the soil dries out a bit. You can plant pea seeds. You can plant beets, radishes, carrots and onions. In a few weeks, you will begin to find the cold weather vegetable plants available for sale. With vegetable plants and seeds you don’t want to rush the season. There are vegetable plants that will take cold temperatures and there are vegetable plants that need warm soil and warm days and nights to survive. As we go along in the season, I will let you know what you can plant based on the weather.
If you want to fill your window boxes and other planters, pansies are your best choice for early April. They are very cold tolerant and the new varieties have the potential to bloom into early June. The new varieties of pansies do need an application of a blossom booster type of fertilizer to keep the pansies producing more flower buds. You should apply the fertilizer every 10 days or so to keep the pansies blooming . Other plants will be able to be put outside soon and I will give you a list of what I think can be safely planted in future columns.
Your lawn can be raked to remove all the winter debris. If the ground is wet, allow the soil to dry a bit to prevent the raking from pulling up the grass. Raking will pull up some of the dead grass but you don’t want to damage the healthy grass by pulling them out of wet soil. Once you are done raking, you probably should be applying some lime to your soil. If you applied lime last fall, you probably don’t need to apply lime this spring. If you aren’t sure when lime was last applied, you can purchase a PH test kit. This kit will tell you how acidic the soil has become over time. Once you know the PH of your lawn, the kit can help you to decide how much lime to apply. Your grass needs to be at a PH of 6 ½. Having the PH at this range is optimal for your lawn to grow properly. The fertilizer you apply to the lawn will be used efficiently and will allow the grass to grow quickly and to thicken up your lawn. If the PH is too low, you grass cannot grow properly but the weed can grow quickly. If you love weeds in your lawn, forget about applying lime.
Many people ask about when is the proper time to fertilize their lawn. At this point in time, you can apply a regular lawn fertilizer. If you want to control crabgrass, there are different types of crabgrass control plus lawn fertilizer. When you apply them will depend on how long the control part will last. Most of the organic controls last about 4 weeks. If you put the organic type down too early it won’t be there when the crabgrass seed is ready to sprout. The seed sprouts based on soil temperatures. As a rule of thumb, the crabgrass seed sprouts at about the same time that the forsythia bushes drop their flowers. Once you see the forsythia bushes put out their flowers, that is the best time to apply any of the crabgrass control products.
If you want to apply a weed killer and fertilizer combination, you need to wait to apply this product until you can see that the weeds are actually growing.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.