Some Helpful Gardening Tips, Coming Into Spring!
Some Helpful Gardening Tips, Coming Into Spring
It’s Almost March, Let’s Get Busy!
By Kevin Cutlip
There are lists everywhere about the gardening chores to be done, but “Phenologically Speaking”, those lists don’t take into account anything about the local, current climate. We are still in a powerful El Nino (Warm Wet Baby). I always look for two things in these conditions, Forsythia blooms and Purple Martins returning. Those two things get me in gear, and as usual, I am behind because they coincide with each other when the conditions are right.
Forsythia blooms when the soil temperature is 58 degrees at 4 inches for five days straight. By then, we have gained about 2 hours of daylight. Crabgrass germinates at seven days, and everything else follows. So, get that Pre-emergent down then. If you are going to add new mulch, your Preen goes “ON TOP” of the new mulch. That barrier will squelch any seeds blowing into that moist bark. For you water gardening folks, the same thing applies; when your water temp is consistent at 58 degrees, divide, re-pot and feed your water plants. Then move your pump back to the farthest point from the waterfall, and start feeding your Koi, “sparingly”. Change out your barley straw if you use it, and you should.
Purple Martins know when to either return, or bypass an area. This is the same for Starlings. The Polar Vortex shifted the Starlings for two years and we had an abundance of inch worms, their favorite coming home food. If you have a Purple Martin house, it’s time to get it cleaned out for the returning scouts. If you are planning on a new house, you will set up later, for the returning Sub Adults.
https://www.purplemartin.org/research/8/scout-arrival-study/ has a great chart of when both birds are returning. Timing is everything and this site is well worth the read. Contrary to popular belief, these birds do not control mosquitos. They love the “crunchy” insects, beetles, etc. You can use a piece of bird netting around your plants until those friends come, to prevent “others” from taking over. I had a few pieces of “Gutter Guard” that fit perfectly as well. Martins are quite the entertaining show!
Cold Crops are here! Get them in now, and enjoy them for several weeks. Whether you choose to plant them in containers or in the ground, we will show you how. Most of them can take a bit of shade, so you don’t have to crowd your warm season veggies. Cool thing.. If grown for bloom to fruiting, give your veggies 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. If they are grown for green leaf, 2 to 4 hrs is enough. This includes Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, Onions, Turnips, Cold Crops, Herbs, or any of your “undergrounders”. If the tops are just green, you can grow in the shade.
March is also the time to prune Crape Myrtles, finish getting those bare root roses in the ground, and do some final high maintenance in the other beds. Your Mac Hydrangeas are also starting to shoot, Paniculatas need some light pruning and Hardy Hibiscus can be cut back to about 6 inches.
One last point, after a powerful El Nino (Warm Wet Baby), we get a pretty good La Nina. (Cool Dry Baby). Root watering is going to be paramount when this happens, as well as a different feeding schedule. Fungus issues will be priority this Spring and Summer. No need to overhead water on those cool nights. Dry days are coming, and if leaf material can’t dry, then you may be ankle deep in the chemicals. Watch for our “Drip Irrigation Class” coming soon. We’ll get you into a whole new world of watering. Monitoring your garden beds, whether veggie, ornamental or evergreen, is very important!
FYI critter watch: This time of year, squirrels are mating. After she mates, she will want in, somewhere. She will chew through things to sharpen her teeth in order to “fight to the death” if he tries to take the nest. The most common things that squirrels end up destroying are car wiring harnesses and propane grill hoses. Keep an eye out for activity. Most common nesting spots for squirrels are tall trees and your attic. Watch out for skunks too! They are also mating and active. If you see 3 inch cone shaped holes in your beds, they are visiting and eating grubs. There are also our nocturnal buddies like woodpeckers. Just don’t take out the trash at 2 a.m. or you might meed one of them hitting your home or trees. This means you probably have “borers” in the wood.
A few lawn tips: Apply some Pre-emergent when Forsythia blooms, and you are finished for now. For you warm season people, when thinking about you Bermuda/Zoysia, you can kill green weeds now with a non-selective herbicide. Hold off your feeding until late May.