Dear Gardening Friends,
What a difference a year makes! Last year we were so dry, this year the ground is saturated. But the spring blooms have been spectacular and we are all looking forward to another growing season. Here are some tips for mid spring in your garden:
- The soil is so saturated you have to be very careful of stepping into your garden beds and compacting the soil. Even the lawn is too soft to walk on. Yesterday I was digging up some perennials and my knees made huge dents in the soil.
- Another caution about working in this wet, clumpy soil, it’s not good for transplanting. Although this is an ideal time of year to transplant and divide it would be better to wait until the soil dries out a little. However, we don’t know when that will happen so if you need to do it now be sure to break up the soil clumps thoroughly so that there are no air pockets around the roots.
- The nurseries are filled with beautiful annuals and hanging baskets. Don’t be tempted to put them out yet. It’s still too cold. Tender vegetable starts like tomatoes and basil shouldn’t be put out yet either. Remember, the final average frost isn’t till May 20! We may or may not get a frost but the soil is way too cold and wet.
- Bad news, I found lily leaf beetles yesterday and judging by the holes in the leaves they have been out for a few days. They are bright-red and under ½ inch. You can knock them off into soapy water or simply squish them. Look for the eggs on the undersides of the lily leaves. They are small red spots in a straight line along a vein. Using a paper towel to wipe them off is easy and effective. When the larva hatch they look like black slimy blobs (they cover themselves with their feces YUCK!) Just wipe them off with a paper towel as well. For more detailed info and pictures go to: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2001/07/cornell-cooperative-extension-master-gardeners-spot-invasive-unpleasant-beetles-new, or just GOOGLE “Cornell info on lily leaf beetle”.
- Weeding is a great job for now. Use a trowel to get the roots out. One thing that’s good about the wet soil is the weeds pull out easier!
- If any of your mature perennials have a dead section in the middle that makes the clump look like a doughnut, that’s a sign it’s ready to be divided. When the soil is workable dig the clump up and divide it into smaller sections.
- If you have perennial grasses that haven’t been cut back, do that now before the new growth gets too high.
- Don’t worry if some things aren’t up yet. It’s just the beginning of May and many perennials are notoriously late showing themselves.