Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sittin' in Spring

Flowering Almond Bush
Spring in the Midwest is a beautiful 75 degree day surrounded by days of rain, high winds, sleet, snow and maybe a tornado or two.

Spring in the South is a beautiful 75 degree day surrounded by days of rain, high winds, hot and humid and maybe a tornado or two.

For a gardener chomping at the gardening bit, it's hard to simply wait out these normal spring events.

The most common question I've been asked lately, is, "Can I plant my Spring annuals now?"  My answers are always the same,

  • "I usually wait until closer to Mothers' Day."
  • "Pansies and violas will do well - usually."
  • "If the ground is so frozen you can't dig more than 6 inches, don't plant."
  • "Do you want to drag pots in and out of the garage on cold days/nights?"
  • "Seeds and roots tend to rot when it gets too cold."
  • "If you buy plant sets now and can't get them in the ground, they will not do as well in your garage as they will do if you leave them at the nursery?"
Forsythia bush
Alright, moving on:  here are some things you can do in weather that's less than ready for planting:

Clean your pots with a mixture of water and a dab of bleach.  If you've sworn off chemicals, use water and a dab of vinegar.  Scrub with a brush and rinse totally. 

Clean all your garden tools with the same mixture.  Dry and oil down all wooden or leather parts.  Put a drop of WD40 on all gears.  If you've sworn off chemicals, use olive oil.

Sharpen all blades or take them to a professional.  (There is a trick and talent to doing this right.)  This includes shovels and spades.  If you find a good professional knife/tool sharpener person, take your kitchen knives, too.  You will be so happy with better than new results.

Wash off all garden ornaments.  A dab of vinegar will make them sparkle.  I put most of mine in the dishwasher.  Some might break if they get too hot so do this at your own risk or turn off the dry cycle. Some things are painted glass not colored glass - they shouldn't go in the dishwasher.

Clean out bird houses (this needs to be done immediately as the birds are building for their new families right now.)  Put up any new ones.

Keep your feeders full - it's still slim pickins in the natural world and they need more nutrition when carrying eggs.

Get your lawn mower (and other lawn care machines) in good shape for the summer.  Check oil (if not a contained unit), add new gas, grease and clean.  Follow your manual for needed servicing.

Most lawn waste can be rakes, picked up and removed even during cold weather - if you're a hardy soul. 

If you're going to plant seeds, now is the time to purchase.

Any potting soil, fertilizer, moisture extender, etc. can be purchased.

Get a load of mulch.

Donate all decent garden equipment and ornaments you don't need or want to your favorite thrift store. They LOVE having these donations. That includes lawn chairs, tables, working equipment, tools, and goofy stuff. Recycle the things that no one would want because a thrift store must pay to have your junk removed from the donation.

Consider putting down a weed inhibitor, milky spores, tree and shrub systemic insect granules, and grass killer.  Some of these are chemical and some not.  Read labels carefully to make sure you don't kill the plants and insects you want continue to have in your gardens.

Windows and screens can be washed.  Yes, dirty screens will constantly put off muddy water onto your clean windows and when the wind blows it will distribute pollen and dirt into your home.

Spread granulated fertilizer around perennials.  Make sure you use the right mixture (All around balanced for most is 10-10-10 but it's not for everything.)  It's easier to get it around the plants before they get very big and the spring rains will deliver it to the roots without watering.

Do you have garden gloves, sun screen, insect repellent and a hat ready to go?  

  • Are you hoses still in working shape?  If not replace or repair.  Do the faucets leak - replace washers.
  • Does your nozzles, sprayers work well and have a thingy that can hold the spray in the "on" position so your hands don't become fatigued?
  • Does your lawn need seeded, weeded, rolled, thatched or removed?
  • Does any of your trees or bushes need pruned?  If you don't know what you're doing, either read or ask a professional.
  • It's a great time to walk around your home; does it need painting, patching, caulking?  Is the roof missing shingles?  Are the gutters and downspouts working, clogged, attached, running free? 

Pick a bouquet of spring flowers and bring them into the house.  It will be encouragement Spring and then summer will soon be in full swing.

1 comment:

  1. Does this mean another honey do list...hmm...glad to do it though sweetheart....our yard is so beautiful because of you every year...