Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Has Arrived and Great Weather Along With It

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM.

Very recently Paul sent out as part of his weekly newsletter a great post called "Spring Has Arrived and Great Weather Along With It." Paul went over some very timely yard and garden tips for just this early time of the season which can help all of us get our outdoor gardening off to a GREAT start!

Following are some excerpts from what Paul had to say:

"Spring is here, and that means it's time for you to get out of the house and back in the yard. The seed catalogs are everywhere, gardening magazines are now flooding the book stands, and the birds are returning to your yards--so let's get moving. Take advantage of the warmer than normal weather and let's clean up the yard, prepare the soil for planting and begin planting early spring flowers like pansies, violets and Johnny jump ups.

It's also time to work on the lawn and get rid of the moss growing there. If you're using the old fashioned powdered limestone, be sure to open up your spreader all the way to do the job properly. This will give you the proper rate of 50 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn for heavy moss...." At Skillin's we love the Fast Acting Lime by Encap. This calcium based lawn lends great minerals to your soil that will help your soil be better aerated over time. If the soil seems especially heavy and dense then come pick up some gypsum to put down on that part of the lawn. Also ask us to show you some all natural and safe lawn foods that when used consistently will bring natural aeration and a thicker grass to your lawn area!

If the moss is like a carpet, rake it up with your steel grading rake and dispose of it now and then add grass seed in those areas later to fill in the holes. If moss is visible, you can also purchase a moss killer and burn it out quickly without hurting the existing grass--but you will still need to add lime to sweeten the soil to prevent regrowth later so you won't have to look at the moss during the summer.

Apply Fast Acting Lime too at the recommended rate for all your flower and vegetable gardens. Shrubs like lilacs, clematis, and pink hydrangea love lime, so be sure to give them a bit extra to promote good foliage growth and flowers later. If you have shrubs and flowering trees that are not flowering well, give them a bit of lime to help sweeten the soil and make the fertilizer you will apply work better around the plants. Even rhododendrons, azaleas and mountain laurel will improve their flower production with occasional applications of lime products.

If you have blue hydrangea and blueberries, it is also time to add a soil conditioner called aluminum sulfate to make the soil more acidic. This is the opposite of what liming the soil does, as these plants prefer an acidic soil to grow in; this will increase the flowers on the blueberry for more berries and you'll have brighter flower colors on the hydrangea.

Right now is the best and MOST effective time to control crabgrass in your lawn, especially if you had crabgrass in your lawn last year. Each plant you had last year is able to produce up to 5000 seeds--so if you had a problem last year, it could be much worse this year. If you're controlling crabgrass with a traditional or organic product this year, remember to get it down early and be sure to water it in to dissolve the product to create the protective barrier on top of the soil to prevent seed germination. This first step will also fertilize the grass and help fill in the holes left in the lawn by the dead crabgrass plants from last year. Thick lawns do not have crabgrass problems so if you did not have crabgrass last year, feed your lawn to prevent problems this year.

Newly planted shrubs and trees from last year should now be fertilized now with Bio-Tone to continue the root development process so the plant can be ready for a possible hot and dry summer. Remember what this winter has been like--the summer could be a hot and dry one, so prepare now just in case. Established plants should be fertilized with the proper fertilizer also for evergreens use Holly-Tone by Espoma. If you have deciduous or leafless plants, use Espoma Plant-tone now. Feeding at this time of the year stimulates the plant to grow while there is a good supply of moisture in the ground; remember, "April Showers bring May flowers." While the sap is moving up the tree, your fertilizer applied now can also move up the tree or shrub more easily for a uniform growth; it won't just sit at the bottom of the plant.

Clean up your perennial flower beds now, fertilize, lime and apply your bark mulch or compost before the plants begin to grow. It will save you time and prevent you from damaging newly sprouting shoots. When Spring Training finishes--and your favorite baseball team begins to play baseball for real--is the right time to prune back your roses; not before--especially in the northern part of the country--but you can feed and lime them now.

Your fruit trees, berry plants, rosebushes, perennial beds and evergreen shrubs should now be sprayed with All Season Oil and Copper Fungicide to kill overwintering insects and disease spores on your plants. Be sure to clean around the plants and remove all of last year's foliage on the ground, as it does contain these problems; spray the structure the plants are growing on too. Entomologists are predicting a real bad year for insects this year due to the mild winter. The lack of real prolonged cold weather along with no frost in the ground could give us many problems with insects and disease in the coming weeks, so stay on top of problems as they develop in your garden.

Now is also the time to prune your deciduous non flowering plants like privet hedges, burning bush, barberry and privacy hedges--just to name a few. Also your non flowering evergreens like boxwood, holly, ilex, yews and junipers again just to name a few. While you're pruning your Canadian hemlock, check them over real well for small white growths that look like cotton on the underside of the needle, near the tips of the branches. If you see this, treat your plant "NOW" with systemic tree and shrub insecticide so the upward movement of the sap will take the product to the top of the tree and protect the entire plant for the entire year. If you have ash trees or large leaf trees on your property, look at the trunk of the tree for possible holes in them about the size of a pencil. Those could be a real problem that is easily controlled now--with the same product. Longhorn beetles or ash borers are a real problem all over New England now--and the warm winter did not help."

Thanks to Paul Parent!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
March 26, 2012

No comments: