~ March 25, 2009 ~
Well, we made it! Spring is here and at last you can see and feel it. So many wonderful
things in bloom. Forsythia, quince, tulips, daffodils, magnolias and Bradford pears. The
list seems endless. We just returned from spring break and I could not believe the difference
one week had made. The grass is greener, the trees are budding and blooming
(photos). It really is
breathtaking and something all of us Savvygardeners live for. A new season has arrived and
I could not be happier!
I will caution all of you to pay close attention to the weather over the next few days,
particularly this weekend. Temperatures will be dipping down into the low 30's and high
20's (Ugh!) with a slight chance of snow showers (double ugh!). The threat looks most likely
to affect us Friday into Saturday. If you have shrubs, daffodils, tulips or anything else in
bloom that you want to protect from a freeze I would certainly suggest covering them. Yes
spring is here but Mother Nature will not allow us to get too excited.
The Great Divide...
Dividing perennials is important for the garden and the
soul. The garden benefits because many perennials become
overcrowded and need to be thinned out once in a while. The
gardener's soul benefits because it provides an opportunity to
share our garden treasures with other gardeners who will go on to
expand their beauty.
Don't divide the wrong plants! Before you start take a look at our
When to Divide Perennials in our Features section.
Keep 'Em Covered...
Gardeners anxious to get their yard and garden chores done in
spring may be tempted to remove the mulch from their strawberry
beds in March or early April. A portion of the strawberry crop
may be lost however if the mulch is removed too early in the spring.
Removal of the mulch plus several days of warm weather may encourage
the plants to bloom before the danger of frost or freezing temperatures
is past. Temperatures of 32°F or lower may severely damage or destroy open
flowers. Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a
late spring frost can drastically reduce yields.
To reduce the chances of frost or freeze damage leave the mulch on until
the plants show signs of growth. Periodically examine the plants
under the mulch during periods of warm weather in the spring.
Remove the mulch from the strawberry plants when about 25% of the
plants are showing new growth (it will be white or yellow in
color). Rake the mulch to the center aisles between rows. If
there is a threat of a frost later in the season during bloom,
the mulch can be lightly raked back over the plants.
Part of your spring clean-up may include some tree pruning.
Take your time and do it right. In particular don't leave stubs
behind when pruning. Stubs usually die and become entry points
for decay fungus. Instead cut just outside the branch collar,
the slightly thickened area at the base of the branch. As an
extra precaution remember that pruning should never be done in
damp or wet weather when the fungal spores and bacteria that
infect plants through fresh wounds spread easily.
Here Come The Hummers...
Hummingbirds will be in our area from
mid-April through October. Invite these wonderful birds
into your garden with a hummingbird feeder and the plants they
So, your neighbor's cat has decided that your garden is its designated
litter box? Here are some tips that might actually work to keep that
feline from soiling your garden:
- Try planting rue. This attractive blue-green herb has a
scent that most cats find disagreeable.
- Modify the cat's behavior. Spray water at the cat when it
comes into the garden. If the cat associates an unpleasant shower
with your garden it will likely find another place to hang out.
- Plant a garden just for the cat. By creating a small space that
the cat enjoys you may be able to keep it away from the rest of your
plantings. Try catnip, catmint, cat thyme, and valerian.
Stopping The Topping...
Has that tree in the front yard gotten a little too big? If so you
need to resist the urge to "top it". Topping, also known as heading
or stubbing, is a damaging pruning practice that seriously damages
the long-term health of a tree. According to the
National Arboretum many homeowners top their trees because
of a misconception that large trees are hazardous and that storm
debris will be reduced with a reduction in size. In fact, topped trees
produce large quantities of water sprouts - shoots that are weakly
attached and are easily broken off during storms - to replace the leaves
and branches that were lost, thereby increasing storm debris.
If you have a zoysia lawn it is still dormant and you should
not be applying any fertilizer to it. Any fertilizer
added now will just feed the weeds and they're overfed as it is.
Be patient. You should be able to fertilize your zoysia lawn in
about six weeks.
"March is a month of considerable frustration - it is so near
spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather
is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in
our yards seems light-years away."
~ Thalassa Cruso