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In Your Garden: Spring do’s and don’ts

The yard looks like heck, leaves all over it, treasures the dog fetched home and a few of its poop piles. If it is bugging you, grab a good book pull the drapes and chill. Unless you can either sit or kneel on your grass and stay dry, stay off it. Raking just tears up grass by the roots and leaves openings for weeds to sprout. For another thing, walking on the soggy grass packs it down, a very bad thing. You can clean the dead stuff out of your flower beds if you can do it without walking in them. If you go tramping around in the beds with your big feet, you are apt to stomp on a just emerging tulip, daff or lily. You can pull back mulch from emerging shoots but don’t remove it just yet. Again, only if you don’t walk in the bed. Don’t even think of tilling the garden. Wait until when you pick up a hand full of soil and crunch it in your hand, it falls apart. If you end up with a gob of soil it’s too wet to work. You will end up with clods of soil to fight all summer.

You can start most vegetable seeds now. Wait to start the vine crops until about 2 to 3 weeks to planting time. You want a transplant that has the seconds or third set of true leaves. Longer vines pout for a bit before they begin to grow again. The smaller plants start right off. If you are adding a tree to your landscape, you can plant it as soon as you can stick a spade in the soil. Water well and mulch with 2 to 4 inches of mulch around new transplanted trees or shrubs. Prune plum and cherry trees now while you can see the skeleton. Open up the middle of the tree and be sure to remove any black knot from them. Black knot, also known as bear scat fungus is a black gob on a branch. On the stem of the tree it looks as though there has been an explosion inside the stem. Remove at least a foot of the infected branch and disinfect your tool between cuts. Don’t prune maples or birches now. They are the exception to the rule of pruning bare branches. Wait till those 2 trees are fully leafed out. You can prune most other trees and shrubs now if they need it. Leave the spring flowering shrubs until just after flowering if you didn’t do it last year.

Hit the seed racks. Carefully read the back of the packet. If it says the plant is ripe in 120 days, leave it there. Plant for 90 days and hope we get more frost free days. There are always new varieties of flowers and vegetables coming out. Live a little and plant a flower you have never planted before. Try a purple carrot or an orange tomato. Or just for the heck of it, plant a hill of warty gourds or pumpkins. Have fun gardening this summer.

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