March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers, so runs the old saying. A little hard work helps, too, and if the first two arrive on schedule the spring work will be well under way.
photo credit: Allie_Caulfield
It also takes good soil to produce flowers but what to add and what not to add to make it good is often a problem. Should it be manure, bone meal or lime?
Every garden needs fertilizer in some form in the spring and when the second crops go into the soil in summer the plant foods need to be replenished. Farmyard manure, particularly cow manure, is still considered an ideal fertilizer by many gardeners.
For flower and vegetable gardens it should be fresh manure, not rotted. A good organic dry fertilizer is favored by many in preference to chemical fertilizers.
Dry fertilizers are best used in combination with liberal amounts of rotted compost. Theyre available everywhere, and frequently are specially prepared for various kinds of plants and flowers as well as vegetables.
Lime is often beneficial and sometimes necessary but it is usually not needed every year. Low lying, heavy wet soils are likely to need it every second year. Average soil requires lime once each three or four years.
However, outside of the lime belt it might be needed more frequently. When in doubt about the needs of your soil your state experiment station or local farm bureau will test it for you or you can purchase a simple home soil testing kit that will provide all the needed information.
Superphosphate should be added to the soil when cow manure is used, since the latter generally lacks phosphates or at least enough for best results.
Perennial borders need a little extra nourishment in the spring as soon as there is sufficient growth to show where all the plants are. Manure and bone meal or dry fertilizer should be dug in. Perennial borders properly fed and cared for will grow along for years.
Gall on Spruce Trees
Spruce tree gall is caused by a midge that lays its eggs on the young tips of the spruce tree, and the developing young within the plant cause the formation of galls or burrs. Affected trees should be sprayed with a miscible oil spray that has been diluted according to instructions for use on evergreens.
Shaded Corner Garden
A shaded corner in the garden or a northern exposure is ideal for tuberous begonias. Start them in flats in an enclosed porch or in the greenhouse in equal quantities of sand, leafmold or peatmoss and soil.
Plant with the rounded end down and about one-third of the tuber exposed. When they have made an inch or two of growth and there is no danger of frost they can be planted out into well-prepared soil in the shade. They can also be potted into 4 or 5-inch pots and put outdoors later on. (This is safer where there is danger of a late frost.)
Plant gladiolus as soon as the ground is ready. To do their best gladiolus should have rich soil. Plant about 4 inches deep and for a longer season put in succession plantings up to July 15. To control thrips spray the plants every two weeks with malathion. Do not plant gladiolus in the same spot two years in succession.
Planting A Strawberry
Strawberry plants should be planted this month to bear fruit next year. To be sure of a good crop of berries prepare the bed with liberal quantities of manure or compost and dry fertilizer and water well in dry weather. Either young plants from an old bed or purchased plants may be set out. It does not pay to keep a bed past its second fruiting year.
For best results dig one old bed under each year after taking the young runner plants from it. Then start a new bed with them. Start the new bed in a spot that has not had strawberries in it for at least two years.
Vegetables to sow. Seeds suggested for March sewing, if not already in, can still be sown new. In late April or early May put in succession planings of lettuce, beets, carrots and radishes, and the first sewing of green beans. Even a first sewing of corn could go in if the garden is in a favored spot and you wish to take a chance.
Small frequent succession sewings assure a constant supply of first class vegetables. Also in late April plant out all hardy vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower. Do not put out tender plants till after May 15 to 25.
Start annuals now including marigolds, zinnias, cosmos and asters, all fast-growing plants. These if can be sewn indoors or outdoors late in April and May in the locations where they are to flower. After germination thin out the seedlings. These annuals often flower best when sewn outdoors directly but these sewn indoors and then set out flower earlier.
Chrysanthemum cuttings for fall flowering may be taken in April and May. Take the tops of strong, healthy growth and root in sand. Use a rooting hormone. It is also a good time to divide outdoor patio plants with several stems, taking a small piece of root with each part. Such a division is called an “Irishmans cutting” and can be started in a soil mixture in pets or flats. This is particularly good for outdoor chrysanthemums or where there is no greenhouse.
Outdoor chrysanthemums should be lifted each spring, broken up in this manner, and then started off again as separate plants. They will need to be pinched several times to make them branch. Plants net divided become thin, weak and flower poorly.
Harden off plants before setting out. Seedlings started in a greenhouse, hotbed or perch are tender and must be hardened off before planting out time. Even such hardy types as lettuce and cabbage freeze easily if taken from the warm indoors and immediately planted into the garden.
Place the plants on a cool porch or in a cold frame for about 10 days, allowing the temperature to become quite low and give plenty of ventilation. On extremely cold nights they need covering to keep out frost.