10 Springy Tips

By Julie Barnes

Happy spring! With that said please allow me to illuminate on an article from Fine Gardening Magazine (Mar/ Apr 2013 Issue 150; p.40-43) titled: "10 Chores that Can't Wait" written by Michelle Gervais to give your garden a head start. If some chores are not tackled early, they may become too challenging:

1. Plan Your Bulb Order - You must wonder WHY? After all bulb catalogs do not arrive until late summer. The reasoning is to plan for the future: Observe the bulbs you have growing now. Maybe there are gaps that need filled in. Mark those areas as you study the garden in front of you while
using last fall's catalogs to circle potential selections. Since later catalogs may not be identical, substitutions can be made then.
2. Divide Perennials - Minimize damage to perennials by dividing them as soon as they emerge in the spring. Divisions can then recover and grow new roots before the onset of summer heat.
3. Make More Shrubs By Layering: a) Secure a shrubs lower branch to the ground, b) cover it with soil, and c) allow it to root and grow new stems. An early start should give your new shrub the chance to develop healthy roots before detaching it from the mother plant.
4. Plan for the Inevitable Onslaught of Deer - Defense rather than offense is the key to combatting deer. Make your garden less palatable. Gear up with an arsenal of different repellents. Start applications right away and do not hesitate to alternate them. Protect particularly deer prone plants with wire cages. Set up motion sensor repellents early if you use them.
5. Cut Back Ornamental Grasses - The wintertime show of plumage waving in the breeze is no longer needed where there had been little else for color. Before new spring growth emerges, cut back the grasses in late winter or you run the risk of cutting down the new growth that is hidden
among the old, resulting in stubby blades that glaringly stick out until the clump has the chance to recover.
6. Direct Sow Seeds - Some vegetables and many annuals grow best when sown directly in the spring ground. Examples are: Beans, peas, poppy, sunflower, nasturtium, love in the mist, or morning glory. Broadcast the seeds in distinct areas before nearby plants shade them out competing for water, light and nutrients.
7. Start Summer Bulbs - To reach their maximum potential, summer blooming bulbs need an early start. Start caladiums and elephant ears inside. Pot up dahlia tubers outside and protect them from frost. Once the soil warms to 60 degrees, bulbs such as Canna, Oriental or Asiatic Lilies, Gladiolus, or Calla Lilies can then be planted.
8. Deal with Aggressive Plants - Weeds are far easier to pull when they are small. Do not allow weeds to bloom and set seed. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a whole new generation of them.
9. Plant Fall Blooming Perennials - As you visit a garden center or spring plant sale, do not focus solely on the blooms surrounding you. Consider your fall garden too and look for plants such as Anemone, Helenium, Toad Lily, Nippon Daisy or Asters that will bring happiness come September.
10. Mulch your Beds - It takes twice as long to carefully mulch around larger more established plants, so you may find it easier to work around smaller clumps of emerging plants.