Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring is Really, Really Here!

The birds are singing, the bulbs are blooming, kids are riding their bikes and my mailbox is full of glossy plant catalogues, it must be spring. If your green thumb is itching, here are some tips to get your garden underway:
Narcissus poeticus and Hyacinthoides "White City"
Start your own vegetable garden with spinach, lettuce, carrots and radish seeds. If you have not grown vegetables before, consider growing your vegetables in containers, which can be more easily monitored and work your way up to an in-ground plot.
Remove old mulch from your perennial beds, as weed seeds are likely to be hding in there. And gently cut back any remaining perennial husks, the snow cover should have acted as a wonderful insulation for most perennials. But there are some late arrivals, like Crocosmia don’t give up yet if you see some bare spots. They may just be sleeping in.
Dedham Civic Pride has started planting annuals in the pots around Dedham, and they look lovely. But keep in mind that it is still early for most annuals other than Pansies. And keep in mind that Saturday, April 30 is Dedham Civic Pride “Clean Up Day” check their website for more details http://www.dedhamcivicpride.org/.
The best way to keep weeds out of your lawn is to keep your lawn grass healthy. Tune up your mower (sharpen the blades so they don’t tear the grass), rake, lime and fertilize. And if you are looking for an organic way to green your lawn and protect its roots from disease causing fungi I have seen excellent results with Actino-Iron.
Apply pre-emergent crabgrass killers to your existing lawn now.  This stops the annual weed seeds from germinating (starting to grow).  The grass we want in our lawns is a perennial (comes back every year) and the existing lawn grass won’t be affected by the pre-emergent.
Prune the dead areas of your rose canes, start by cutting back to a live bud on the green area (live cane) Apply 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Consider increasing your shrub border and reducing lawn area.  A well-designed shrub border can provide 4-season interest with less maintenance and less water us than a typical lawn.
Check your Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis and Tsuga caroliniana) for the wooly adelgid.  Look along the underside of branches for fluffy white matter.  These are the eggs.  If you find some on your trees you can treat with Horticultural oils (which are safe for humans and wildlife) on dry days when the weather is over 45’, or consult a certified arborist.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming.  I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. I transplanted multiple forsythia cuttings from the back of my yard to the front several years ago. They seem fine and healthy but they have never turned yellow. Each year they shoot leaves that simply go directly to green without ever turning yellow. 

A. Great question! And the two most likely culprits are
1) Not enough sun - Even though Forsythia will grow in almost full shade, it does not reliably flower unless it is in full sun. This means they will keep growing every year, getting bigger and looking healthy but without the yellow spring blooms.
2) Pruning (or deer grazing) - Forsythia blooms on old wood not new spring growth, so if pruning shears or hungry deer had their way with your plants either last summer, fall or winter they would have effectively removed this years blooms.