Snips & Tips from the APRIL Garden
Spring officially arrived on March 21; however, don’t get too ambitious about getting those plants in the ground just yet!
It’s still too cold to plant seed or install new tender plantings in the north Georgia mountains. Cold soil does not promote a healthy vegetable or flower. Different plants prefer and perform best with specific ground warming. Unfortunately, ground temperatures don’t always reflect what the thermometer shows. The perfect temperature for planting varies dependent upon the variety of vegetable, fruit or flower. Planting before it is time can reduce fruit set, stunt plant growth and prevent or reduce seed germination.
If you are in doubt, check your seed packet for ideal soil temperatures for planting. Most will list the specific month for your USDA zone. Be sure chances of a late frost won’t damage plantings. Remember that frosts have been reported as late as mid-May in our area. You can still start your favorite plants inside in pots to give them a head-start.
There’s always something to do in the garden though. April is a good time to:
· Start out slowly . Those muscles and bones have been at rest over the winter for most of us. Don’t overdo it!
· Do that final cleanup before planting time.
· Till the soil in the area for planting, and add amendments like compost.
· Make those last minute raised beds and other building projects you’ve been wanting to do
· Visit local plant sales. Even though you may need to delay planting in the ground, you can always nurture those new plants inside for now.
· Plant new rose bushes.
· Thatch and over-seed the lawn.
· Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, etc.
· Plant fruit trees and berry plants now in full sun.
Yea! Warmer weather is just around the corner! I can hear the garden calling . . .
Kathy Booker, GMGEV - Rabun County
Snips & Tips from the March Garden
· Finalize selections and plant new trees and shrubs
· Mulch tree and shrubs plantings up to 4 inches deep – keep away from trunks
· Fertilize established trees and shrubs
· Prune trees as needed – repair winter storm damage
· Apply dormant oil to fruit trees in early March to reduce scale and mite insects
· March is a great time to plant berry crops which includes strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries, currants, and grapes.
· Clean up flower beds by cutting back old foliage
· Consider installing a raised bed. Add a high-quality soil to solve any problems with clay or sand. Raised beds are good back-savers when weeding, planting, or tending plants.
· Start seeds indoors under lights for later transfer to garden
· Plant new roses – okay to prune floribunda and hybrid tea roses
· Prune spring blooming plants after they finish blooming
· Divide plants
· Monitor for houseplant pests
· Reseed with fescue
· Grubs become active this month and feast on grass before molting. Check with your local extension office to learn which treatments work best in your area this time of year.
· Get the jump on crabgrass by applying a preemergent herbicide. Applications should coincide with forsythia flowering
· Check irrigation system for repairs and upgrades
· Sharpen tools and mower blades or replace as needed
· Attract bluebirds - Bluebirds start nesting in the spring, so it's important to have your nesting boxes up and ready for them by then. Bluebirds may start nesting anytime between February and April.
The February Garden – Things To Be Done . . .
While we are waiting for those first signs of spring, it’s time to do some pruning and cleaning up after the snow, ice and freezing weather we’ve experienced. Go ahead and remove dead branches from shrubs. Japanese maples, sasanquas, and knock-out roses can be done now along with many other non-spring blooming plants.
Other tasks to be done:
· Cut roses bushes back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches. Once pruning is complete, be sure to feed them with a slow release synthetic or organic rose fertilizer with a guaranteed analysis of 5-10-5, 4-8-4, or 4-12-4 or a similar ratio of macro-nutrients.
· Prune woody shrubs (butterfly bush, fuchsia, crepe myrtle, etc.).
· You can plant bare root roses now in a sunny position for spectacular summer color.
· Prune or mow the old foliage from ornamental grasses before new growth begins – clip them close to the ground.
· Remove old leaves from Hellebores to make new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.
· Trim deciduous hedges before the birds start nesting.
· Do those tasks you’ve been putting off – build raised beds, install fencing for deer control, repair walls, steps, etc.
· A soil test might be needed if you are planting in a new soil area or noticed poor plant performance last year.
· Continue to feed and provide a water source for the birds.
· Look for early bulb sprout as a sign of spring.
And – from your armchair – now is a good time to peruse those seed catalogues. Go ahead and make selections and place the order.
There is always something to be done in the garden. You’re now done with several of those February tasks – however, the garden projects for this year are just beginning. Next month brings additional gardening duties to prepare for the spring plantings.