5/9/14: in the garden this week


This picture was taken a few days ago–after the rain stopped this afternoon,  I noticed that the first dogwood flowers (the tiny green things in the middle are the real flowers) are open. There’s nothing like a careful survey of a garden you know intimately after a spring rain–the plants grow so fast they seem to jump out of the ground. Most of the last perennials to emerge are up now, the milkweeds and wild quinine. The only one I haven’t seen yet is wild petunia, Ruellia humilis.

Here’s a list of garden tasks you might consider, especially while the weather stays cool:

plant perennials: the cool weather is perfect for establishment of strong root systems. Be sure to rough up the roots when planting, give them a good soaking to eliminate air pockets on the soil, and keep them watered during dry spells for the entire growing season. Same goes for woody plants. Plant while the weather stays cool.

plant cool weather crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas. It you have room, sow a row each week. Keep the seedlings well watered. DO NOT plant warm-weather crops (almost anything besides the ones I listed above) until sometime in late May.

reseed bare lawn patches while the weather is still cool, or, better yet, plant something else such as native perennials or shrubs. Lawn grasses will not grow in a spot that is very shady or very wet. DO NOT feed the lawn until Memorial Day (if you feel you must feed).

do not do any pruning except removal of dead or diseased material while woody plants are in active growth. They are using all their energy to accomplish the vital tasks of leafing out, blooming, and setting fruit. They have no energy to spare for making scar tissue. The next window of pruning time will come in midsummer.

— get out there and pull up garlic mustard. The plant is just coming into bloom, so now is the time, before it sets seed; the ground is wet, which makes weeding easy. This is one invasive you can really get rid of, since it’s a biennial. Pull it up this year and next year, and it’s gone from your property except for isolated seedlings from time to time.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is just coming into bloom . Here’s what the flower buds looked like a couple of days ago:


Happy Mother’s Day and a wonderful spring weekend to all. It’s going to rain for a while, but think how lovely everything will look when it stops!



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