Thursday, April 16, 2015

Timely Garden Tips for Spring 2015

Photo © Jenny Pansing
  • Now is the time to test garden soil for plant nutrient needs. Call Penn State Extension’s Horticulture Hotline for information about how to soil-test:  215-345-3283.
  • Mulch garden beds before most weeds start growing.  Apply 1-3 inches of mulch after watering and weeding anything that’s already there, being sure to keep mulch away from plant stems and woody tissue.
  • In May, remove the dead flowers from spring bulb plants.  Leave the foliage in place while it’s green so the bulb can store energy for next spring. When the foliage turns yellow, it can be removed.
  • Even though many “big box” stores are selling summer vegetable plants such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplants, it’s not safe to plant them outside until May 15 in Bucks County.  Watch the weather reports for late frost and adjust your planting schedule accordingly.
  • Remember to “harden off” any flower or vegetable seedlings that were started indoors in March or April before they’re planted outdoors.  Plants need a slow transition time from a controlled indoor climate to the great outdoors; this helps them develop strong cell structure to survive the elements. Gradually introduce them to the outdoors in a sheltered area away from direct sun and wind, being careful they don’t dry out:  one hour the first day, then add one hour each day for the next seven days.   At this time they should be ready for planting. 
  • Continue spraying fruit trees according to spray schedule.  Do not spray when they are blooming.
  • For lawns, apply pre-emergent crabgrass control through the end of April.  Fertilize now through the end of May.
  • Spring-blooming (June or before) shrubs may be pruned - if needed - after the blooms fade.
  • Chrysanthemums can be “pinched” for fullness until the end of June.
  • After blooming, peonies should be deadheaded.
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs late April through mid-May.
  • Remove the protective winter mulch around roses carefully, pruning away dead or diseased canes. 

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