Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More (Early) April Garden Talks

Hello again,

We have written about (Early) April Garden Talks but I did want to add some more pointers!

*Go ahead and take the mulch off the base of your rose bushes. Late last fall I put a heavy dose of compost and soil around the base or graft of my bushes. The graft was covered by several inches. Then I placed some balsam fir boughs around the compost/soil to hold it in place in case of heavy winter rain. Yesterday I took that mulch and fir off. The fir I placed in the compost heap. The needles will soon fall off the branches into the compost. I will then throw the branches into the woods. I use some of the compost/soil as a new cover for my rose bed--the remainder will go back into the compost heap.

*I then pruned my rose bushes HEAVILY. I left only about 6" or more of stems near the base. A good heavy pruning NOW will enable some nice fresh, compact and productive rose bush growth as the weather warms,  I have no climbing roses but Paul Parent gives good advice here:
* "Climbing roses should also be cleaned and cut back to get ready for a more productive year. Remove all winter damage branches to the nearest crotch or dormant bud. Tie all branches to your fence or arbor and be sure that part of that branch is tied down and growing in a horizontal position. Horizontal-growing branches will encourage more branches to develop and that means more flowers."

*I also cleaned out one perennial bed of old growth and gently raked out any mulch and debris. This bed has great sun exposure so I was able to work in it. I have a shade bed that is next! The first bed then got a good dosage of corn gluten--this will help to naturally suppress weed seed from germinating!

*Soon my roses and the perennial beds will get a good dose of all natural food like Flower Tone by Espoma (sold right here at Skillin's) to give the plants a good natural boost for the first part of the year. Organic fertilizers like Flower Tone are all about improving the soil. A good quality garden soil will mean deeper roots for your plants. Deeper roots mean more resilient and productive plants--the natural way!

*Are your bulb plants looking nice and green? What a great time of year isn't it! So neat to see..but help those bulbs get bigger and stronger for next year. How? Now is a great time to get some all natural food into the ground so the bulbs will get some nutrients and use those nutrients to get bigger and stronger for next year. This is the time of year when your bulbs are the most active and are expending the most energy. Use Bulb Tone by Espoma or give a liquid drench or two with Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed Food.

*Got lots of sand and salt on the side of the road? Give the area a good raking and then get some all natural gypsum down on the ground. The gypsum will help naturally aerate the soil and will also help neutralize the salt.

*This is a good time to prune Paniculata Hydrangeas (like Pee Gee Hydrangeas) as well as Annabelle Hydrangeas. DO NOT prune blue hydrangeas such as Nikko Blue or Endless Summer now). This is NOT a good time to prune lilacs or rhododendrons. Wait until JUST AFTER they flower.

*Great gardener Margaret of A Way to Garden asks: "Looking for a good groundcover to tie things together?" Check out this slideshow called 10 Groundcovers to Rely On.

Thanks again to Paul Parent for his help with climbing roses!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
April 4, 2012

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