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July Gardening Tips

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July Gardening Tips

Regional Gardening Tips for Summer

Harvested vegetables from the garden


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July gardening chores run the gamut. If only July were more predictable in the garden. It doesn’t matter how wet the spring was, rain can become very elusive in July. Humidity begins to peak. It’s the beginning of the rainy season in Florida. And warmer zones are actually passing out of prime growing conditions into the lethargy of the dog days.

So there’s no definitive list of gardening chores for the July garden.

Gardeners just have to play it by ear. Most importantly, keep a close eye on pests and disease, then sit back and enjoy your garden and all the efforts you put in earlier in the year to get it where it is now.

July Gardening Chores for All Hardiness Zones

  • Slow down and give you and your plants a rest from the heat. It can be very stressful growing and setting flower buds for several months, let alone doing it in heat.
  • Give plants a mid-season feeding or side dressing of compost, to get them through to the fall.
  • Keep tabs on rainfall and water as needed. Most plants need at lest an inch of water per week, more if the weather is very hot and dry. Remember to water deeply.
  • Stay ahead of weeds. Pulling them before they flower could save you from thousands of new weeds.
  • Replace mulch as needed. It naturally decomposes and may need replenishing.
  • Check garden centers for mark downs on remaining plants. Be sure to check that they are healthy and not pot bound or full of weeds.

  • Keep lawns at about 3 inches, to protect from summer heat.
  • Keep bird feeders and baths clean.

Special Care for Ornamental Plants in July

  • Keep up on deadheading. The more you deadhead, the more your flowers will re-bloom.
  • Shear back spent annuals by one-third. The old foliage gets worn out by mid-summer and shearing it back will encourage fresh new growth to fill in.

  • Focus on heat and rain resistant flowers like: coleus, hibiscus, melampodium, pentas, plumbago, portulaca and zinnias.
  • Do a final pinching by mid-July, of fall blooming flowers like mums and asters.
  • Divide Iris.

Vegetable Garden Maintenance in July

  • Harvest daily. Some vegetables, like zucchini and cabbages, can mature in the blink of an eye. Don’t let them get tough or split open.
  • Find a Plant a Row for the Hungry program to donate your surplus vegetables to.
  • Succession plant bush beans and lettuce, to replace fading plants.
  • Start fall crops of peas and cole crops. Keep them well watered, until temperatures cool down.
  • Time to dig the garlic, onions and early season potatoes. Onion tops will fall over when they are ready to harvest. Garlic and potato plants will start to decline as they mature underground. Dig a few to test.
  • If your potatoes are not quite ready to harvest, treat yourself to some new potatoes. Carefully loosen the soil under your plants to find a few small potatoes to harvest.
  • Plant a cover crop in bare spots in the vegetable garden. It will feed the soil and keep weeds from moving in.

July Fruit Care

  • Check your berry bushes regularly to harvest before the birds get them. Birds will start munching on berries such as raspberries and blackberries even before they are fully ripe.

  • Clean up fallen fruits under trees. Rotting fruits are an invitation for diseases, insects, and foraging animals.
  • Check fruit trees for water sprouts (branches growing straight up from limbs) and remove them while they are small. They will only draw energy from the fruiting branches of the trees.

July Tree and Shrub Care

  • Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. The plants will look better and they can store their energy rather than spend it developing seed.
  • Hold off on planting until the fall. It is too hot and dry in July for most plants to handle the stress of transplanting. The exception is potted plants that are struggling in their containers. If you must transplant, keep them well watered.

Pests to Watch For in July

  • Thrips (distorted flowers)
  • Spider mites (undersides of leaves)
  • Tomato fruitworm
  • Tomato horn worm
  • Chinch bugs in lawns
  • Japanese beetles.

July Gardening in Warmer Areas (USDA Zones 8 and Above)

  • It can be too hot to grow vegetables this month in many areas. If that’s the case, consider planting a quick cover crop, to feed the soil.
  • Your prime gardening season is coming up, especially in the vegetable garden. It time to start planning your fall garden.
  • Start seeds of heat loving vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, and cucumbers
  • It is still a good time of year to plant container grown citrus trees and tropical fruits.
  • Succession sow sunflowers (every 2 – 3 weeks) for a steady supply.

Special Garden Consideration for the Gulf Coast and Florida

  • Prepare for hurricane season and keep dead limbs pruned

How to Deal with Grass Fungal Diseases in Your Lawn

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Irregular patches of fungal disease in centipede grass lawn.

Lawn fungal diseases take on a variety of forms – from dead-looking brown patches to highly visible spots, threads, rings, or slimes. And once they strike your yard, grass fungal diseases can be difficult to treat.

Fortunately, the right lawn care practices can go a long way toward prevention and treatment; and in severe cases, a fungicide can help eradicate the spores to keep it from spreading. Here are some tips for preventing and treating fungal diseases in your lawn.

Mowing grass in yard with lawn mower

Mowing your grass too low can encourage fungal disease.

Causes of Lawn Fungal Disease

Your lawn is naturally full of fungi and spores, some harmless and some problematic, but the right (or wrong) conditions can cause grass fungus to erupt into a harmful disease. The most common causes of a lawn fungal disease are:

  • Drought
  • Improper mowing (especially mowing too low)
  • Compacted soil
  • Overwatering
  • Too much fertilizer (or using the wrong kind)
  • Wrong grass type for your yard
  • Weather conditions (particularly temperature and humidity)

How To Identify Lawn Fungal Diseases

Signs that your lawn may have a fungal disease include:

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn

Brown patch of dead grass in lawn.

  • White, yellow, or brown patches or rings that grow in diameter.
  • Thin patches of frayed, distorted, or discolored grass blades.
  • Gray, black, red, orange, or purple spots on blades or stems.
  • Gray, black, or pink powdery or threadlike coatings on and around grass blades.
  • Areas of darkened, wet-looking, slimy, or greasy-looking grass.

Common Lawn Fungal Diseases

There are quite a few fungal diseases that can impact lawns, but they’re usually pretty specialized, targeting specific lawn types, at certain times of year, under certain conditions. For example:

  • Brown patch strikes during hot, humid weather.
  • Fusarium blight prefers hot, drought conditions.
  • Dollar spot tends to spring up when nights are cool and dew is heavy.

Before treating your lawn, it’s important to identify not only whether your lawn indeed has a fungal disease, but to identify the fungus itself. All fungicides aren’t the same, and some diseases can be easily treated by making changes in your lawn care.

Knowing your grass type and recent weather conditions can make it easier to narrow down, but you may need help in figuring out exactly what’s going on. Your local cooperative extension center is your best resource for determining which diseases are most common in your area, or you can take a small baggie of the infected grass to your local garden center for help.

Using a fertilizer spreader to apply antifungal treatment to lawn

Applying an antifungal treatment may be necessary to treat severe cases.

How To Prevent and Treat Lawn Fungal Diseases

A simple change in your lawn care practices may be enough to prevent or eradicate lawn fungal disease. At other times nature may deliver a soggy spring or summer heat wave that just can’t be helped. Stressed or unhealthy lawns are much more likely to develop disease; so the better you care for your lawn, the better the grass will be able to handle the natural conditions in your area.

Follow these steps to help take control of fungal diseases in your lawn:

    • Soil Test: Conducting a soil test can not only identify nutrient deficiencies that lead to stressed lawns and disease but sometimes can be used to diagnose the disease itself. Check with your local cooperative extension office for more information.
    • Aerate: Loosen soil by aerating your lawn every year or two.
    • Top-Dress: Apply and rake in a layer of rich, organic top-dressing to improve the soil, increase drainage, and help combat disease.
    • Dethatch: Remove thick buildups of thatch in your lawn to allow the soil to breathe.

Sprinkler watering lawn.

Improper watering can lead to lawn fungus.

    • Grass Type: Rather than fighting nature to have an exotic lawn, choose a grass type that’s suited for your climate, soil, and light conditions. Well chosen lawns are stronger and able to fight off the normal fungal spores native to the area.
    • Go Organic: Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other lawn chemicals can upset your lawn’s ecosystem – allowing disease organisms to grow unchecked. Using organic materials helps keep your lawn in balance.
    • Fertilizing: Both over and under fertilizing can promote some fungal diseases. Choose organic, slow-release fertilizers for your lawn, and apply them exactly as instructed. Avoid excess nitrogen, which creates a fast green lawn with very poor defenses.
    • Watering: Water early in the morning, to allow the grass blades to dry during the day. Give your lawn one inch of water per week, and use a rain gauge to keep track. Water deeply, but less frequently, to encourage stronger roots and to allow the water to absorb properly.
    • Mowing: Follow good mowing practices, including keeping the mower blades sharp and mowing your lawn to the correct height. Scalped lawns are much more vulnerable to fungal disease. If your lawn has diseased patches, be sure to wash and disinfect the underside of your mower after each use.

Antifungal grass treatment for lawn.

  • Air Circulation: Many lawn fungi develop under moist, still conditions. Thin out trees and shrubs to allow air to circulate all over your lawn, and plant shade-tolerant grasses under trees.
  • Snow: Avoid walking on or compacting snow in your yard during the winter, since heavy snow layers can breed snow molds that emerge in spring.
  • Go Natural: If certain areas of your lawn are prone to fungal disease due to conditions you can’t change, consider naturalizing the area with groundcovers or flower beds that will be better suited to those conditions.
  • Organic Treatment: Applying organic treatments – such as neem oil, compost tea, or a weak baking soda solution – can help with small patches of fungus.
  • Fungicides: If all else fails, look for a fungicide (preferably organic) that’s rated specifically for your lawn disease. Fungicides won’t help your grass regrow, but they’ll get the fungal spores in check so that your improved lawn care practices can take effect.

Nothing Says Welcome Home Like An Entry Garden

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Nothing Says Welcome Like an Entry Garden

 

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Now is the time to start planning your entry garden. This welcoming patch has the power to set a warm and friendly tone for those who pass through your garden on the way to your front door. It does take some planning to set the proper mood, however, and you need to consider architecture, setting, scale, boundaries and maintenance.

Architecture and Setting

First, it is critical that your garden style suits your architecture and setting to create a cohesive, uniform look. Try to match the hardscaping and plants to the style and feel of your house. A cottage or farmhouse would be accentuated by a friendly, loose informal garden with plants spilling onto the walkway and colors blending together at the edges of beds. A more formal and symmetrical building, however, should be paired with a more structured garden that includes well-groomed shrubbery, stately flowers and a well-defined path.

Plant Scale

Pay attention to the scale of the plants you choose. Plants that will grow too tall or broad can overwhelm the house or crowd the walkway. Plants that are too small can make the house feel too large and unwelcoming. Investigate the mature sizes of plants and be sure they are positioned appropriately within your entry garden so they will not crowd one another or block key features of your home, such as house numbers or security lighting.

Garden Boundaries

Consider setting boundaries for the garden using a fence, wall, hedge or gate. The boundary could encompass just the area around the front door, might include a flowerbed border or could frame the whole yard, but keep in mind the size and style of your home. A white picket fence around the entire yard is a quaint option for a cottage-esque home, but would look out of place with an elegant brick manor, which would be more suited to a wrought iron boundary or classic boxwood hedges.

Maintaining Your Entry Garden

Be realistic about the amount of time you have to maintain your entry garden. If you have limited time, choose native or easy to care for plants that will require little attention. Also consider using containers for some of the plants. They can be easily rearranged throughout the seasons to give a different look to the garden, and plants can be brought in over the winter months. Keep in mind essential tasks such as weeding, pruning and watering, and plan the garden to suit your abilities, time and budget so you can always keep it in perfect condition to welcome visitors.

With a little planning, you can create a welcoming entry garden to beautifully greet guests as they visit your home.

Mother’s Day Is Here!

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Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world to honor our Mothers, although the dates and months of Mother’s Day differ from country to country. Mother’s day is the occasion to pay rich tributes to the person who have had a great impact on our lives, a person whose love and care knows no boundaries, a person who does everything to keep her children happy and joyous.

Flowers are always a special gift to mothers around the world on Mother’s Day although no gift in the world even equals the services rendered by a mother to her child. Indeed no other gift serves better as the flowers do on the Mother’s Day to convey special thanks for all her love care for us.

Mother’s Day History

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600’s, England celebrated a day called Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), Mothering Sunday honored the mothers of England.

In the United States Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass ever year.

In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia. Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

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Jarvis is again the first person to consider flowers on Mother’s Day for gifting mothers. She sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia with the hope of distributing the mothers. Then onwards, the tradition of sending flowers on Mother’s Day, took root.

The most common flowers for sending mother on the Mothers Day are carnations, especially white carnations. A bouquet of mature blooming roses also serve the great cause of thanking the mother for all her love and care. Flower arrangements made of spring flowers like tulips, scented narcissi and daffodils are also the favorites for sending on Mother’s Day.

If you are at a distance from your mother, you can send Mother’s Day flowers online. Still, it is appropriate to choose flowers from the online florists based on the meaning of the flowers being gifted and the personal likes and dislikes of our mother in terms of color and fragrance of flowers.

21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

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21 Spring Flowers for Your Garden

 

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Early spring flowers are the surest sign that warmer weather is coming. Our list of early spring flowers will give you ideas for the best flowers to plant in spring. After a long winter, it’s time for spring landscaping!

  • Pansy

Cool weather is just what pansy prefers. It’s an annual that gardeners flock to because it’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring for early-season containers and window boxes, relishing the variety in petal color as much as the cheery uplifted blooms.

Name: Viola x wittrockiana

Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Zones: 4-8

 

  • Yellow Trillium

    Yellow trillium is a true spring plant: Once its flowers die back at the season’s end in June, the foliage recedes, too. Even so, its marbled leaves and delicate yellow-white blooms are a welcome sight in April.

    Spring flower tip: In a woodland garden, pair it with other shade-lovers.

    Name: Trillium luteum

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • Hellebore

    Also known as a Lenten rose or Christmas rose, hellebores produce spring flowers of delicate beauty and surprising resilience. In warmer climates, it may even tolerate light frosts, making it one of the best flowers to plant in spring. For unusual flowers, ask at your nursery about double-bloom varieties.

    Name: Helleborus niger

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Bloodroot

    This herbaceous spring perennial flower makes its appearance in March, shooting up white flowers that last until late spring. It’s one of the best flowers to plant in spring and a good fit for either a shaded or woodland garden.

    Name: Sanguinaria canadensis

    Growing conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Snowdrop Anemone

    Fragrant and festive, the bright clusters of snowdrop anemone work well even in a spring garden that’s slightly shaded. Bonus: Once the cooler temperatures of fall arrive, the plant may put on a second bloom show in the garden.

    Name: Anemone nemorosa

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • Redbud

    Flowers get lots of press, but plenty of trees offer springtime feasts for the eyes. One of them is the eastern redbud, a tree that puts on a riotous display of pink beginning in March.

    Name: Cercis canadensis

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 30 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Lilac

    There’s no sweeter spring fragrance than the blooms of this cottage-garden favorite. Lilac varieties, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, come in all shapes and sizes, from dwarf shrubs to taller trees.

    Spring flower tip: The lilac blooms on old wood, so hold off on pruning until right after the same year’s flowering is finished.

    Name: Syringa vulgaris

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 20 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Acoma’ Iris

    Pick your favorite color, and there’s likely an iris to fill your spring garden need. Most put on their bloom show toward the end of spring, but the plants’ tall growth and delectable petal variations make them pretty additions to a variety of garden styles.

    Name: Iris ‘Acoma’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 34 inches tall and 12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Grape Hyacinth

    As much as any other spring bulbs, hyacinths trumpet the arrival of spring. Clustered flowers hang lusciously from sturdy stalks, resembling bundles of grapes; they are one of the most beautiful and best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Muscari armeniacum

    Growing conditions: Full sun or part shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 4-8

  • ‘Harmony’ Iris

    As much a late-winter plant as it is an early-spring bloomer, dwarf wild iris pops with deep, wild purple or blue — a welcome contrast to many of spring’s pastel flowers. Cut a clutch of the iris to put in a vase and take the pleasing fragrance of this early spring flower inside.

    Name: Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-8

  • ‘Grand Maitre’ Crocus

    Crocuses are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, announcing the departure of winter with lovely pink, purple, yellow, or white petals. Planted from corms, crocuses also range in size from delicate blooms to more showy versions.

    Name: Crocus ‘Grand Maitre’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-8

  • Daffodil

    If it’s spring, it’s time for a show of daffodils. The bright, jovial spring flower has a range of shapes and sizes, from trumpet to small- and large-cupped to double. Deer find them less palatable than other spring plants, but the foliage should be left to die back on its own to rejuvenate the plants for the following year.

    Name: Narcissus selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • Tulip

    With innate cheerfulness and beauty, a  tulip, one of the best flowers to plant in spring, lends itself to a variety of garden settings — from formal border gardens to naturalistic, casual settings. And there’s a tulip for every gardener, from diminutive 4-inch-tall specimens to extravagant multifoot-high blooms.

    Name: Tulipa selections

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Winter Aconite

    If the snow has melted, you can be sure that winter aconite is ready to burst forth from the spring garden. Its growth time is limited — the plant dies back once spring transitions to summer — but its pretty, open blooms make it a showpiece in a woodland garden.

    Name: Eranthis cilicica

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Puschkinia

    Inside the blooms of snowdrift is an exquisite surprise: striped flowers that offer surprising color variation. Tall foliage stalks make these a good companion to lower spring growers such as crocus and one of the best flowers to plant in spring.

    Name: Puschkinia scilloides

    Growing conditions: Sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide

    Zones: 3-9

  • ‘Miniature Snowflake’ Mock Orange

    The delicate blooms of sweet mock orange belie its easy-growing nature. After planting it, you hardly have to do a thing to this compact shrub! In addition to pretty white flowers, the plant supplies an intoxicating fragrance.

    Name: Philadelphus ‘Miniature Snowflake’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 3-7

  • Bluestar

    The rewards of Arkansas bluestar bridge the gap between spring and fall: The plant puts on a restrained color show in spring with star-shape, light blue flowers. Then in the fall, the foliage takes a turn for the brilliant, transforming into a golden-yellow display.

    Name: Amsonia hubrictii

    Growing conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • Summer Snowflake

    A drooping bell shape distinguishes the diminutive blooms on summer snowflake, making it both delicate and one of the best flowers to plant in spring. In a flowerbed, group several of the plants to create a focal point.

    Name: Leucojum aestivum

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Zones: 4-9

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea

    Big flowers and oversize foliage ensure the oakleaf hydrangea has a unique presence in the garden. For flower lovers, the late-spring-blooming shrub offers reliable, vigorous growth, but the plant also supplies visual interest throughout the growing season.

    Name: Hydrangea quercifolia

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide

    Zones: 5-9

  • ‘Pink Discovery’ Azalea

    Its bright color burst is short-lived, but ‘Pink Discovery’ azalea’s solid mass of flamboyant flowers provides a just-right transition from spring to summer bloomers. Pair the shrubs with hellebores, as in this sidewalk border, for an early-season showstopper.

    Name: Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanensis ‘Pink Discovery’

    Growing conditions: Part shade and moist but well-drained acidic soil

    Size: To 10 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

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    Double Rock Rose

    Double Rock Rose

    Rock rose makes spring-flower lovers wait until late in the season for blooms, but that extra dose of patience is worth it. Double varieties such as this one are one of the best flowers to plant in spring, with a profusion of petals on low-growing shrubs in both spring and early summer.

    Name: Helianthemum ‘Annabel’

    Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

    Zones: 6-8

  • These annual flowers don’t mind cool temperatures and are perfect for early-spring gardens.

 

5 Tips for Spring Garden Success

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Warmer days are on their way, finally, which means it’s time to start thinking about cleaning up your yard and getting ready for the coming spring gardening season.

If you’re serious about having a great garden and want to top last year’s, getting things ready early in the season will help put you on the right path to having the best garden in the neighborhood.

Planning Is Key

Before you start flinging soil like there’s no tomorrow, set out your vision for the season. What do you want to plant, and where should you plant it? Do you want to start growing more vegetables? Write it all down so you don’t forget your goals as the summer passes.

Tool Time

Prepping for spring gardening gives you the perfect excuse to hang out in the shop and get all your tools ready for the season. Use boiled linseed oil to treat and protect wood handles, and use a wire brush to clean any rust from the metal parts. Clean any tools that have moving parts by using turpentine and then denatured alcohol to get rid of the turpentine residue. Finally, use a file to sharpen any blades, and grease or oil any moving parts to keep them working their best.

Bring in the Cleanup Crew

Spring is the time to set the right conditions so your garden can take off as soon as the weather warms up. One of the most important things you can do for your garden now is tidy up any debris left over from the winter. Clear any leaves or other debris from your perennial gardens, because that can choke out your flowers before they get a chance to bloom. Also, get rid of any branches or stems on shrubs and plants that may have been damaged over the winter. Leaving these on can make it harder for your plants to get started.

It’s also a good idea to lay down mulch on your perennial beds in the spring. A layer of aged pine, hardwood, or hemlock mulch will help keep a consistent soil temperature, regulate moisture, ward off weeds, and add nutrients to your soil as the mulch decomposes.

It’s best to prune most trees when they’re still in the dormant phase, before they start to sprout leaves or flowers. You can do this in winter, but at the very latest it should be part of your spring gardening routine. Pruning your trees regularly is important because it will help them produce more flowers and fruits while also helping ward off pests and diseases.

Prep Your Soil

Winter weeds probably will be poking their heads up in your garden soil already, so pull them as soon as possible and move them far away. If you leave them too long, they will flower, produce seeds, and multiply.

After you’ve waded through the weeds, add some fertilizer and mix it into the soil.

Get Planting

If you have a vegetable garden, it’s time to get those beds in shape and put your spring crops in. Foods such as spinach, leeks, onions, and parsley can be planted as soon as the frosts are over, which is usually by April in northern climates.

Putting some time in up front can make things a lot easier down the road and set you up for a successful gardening season. So spend some time following these spring gardening tips, and you’ll see the results all year long

Gutter and Rain Water Collecting Can Help Save You Money

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Collecting rain water isn’t hard, but there are a few things you will need to do before you begin. You actually want to start by checking your gutters and your roof.

If your gutters have been painted with lead based paint or have lead solder in them then it’s a good idea to have them replaced before you try to build a rain water collection system. This is especially true if you think you’re going to try to purify your rain water for drinking.

You should also look at your roof. Treated cedar shake, tar, gravel, and asbestos roofing material can all contaminate the rainwater beyond any ability to use.

Next, you’re going to want to make sure your downspouts are long enough. Each downspout will need to reach into each of your rain barrels. You may need an extender. The gutters may also have to be adjusted in other ways to handle the system.

Next, choose your rain barrel. Larger rain barrels will mean a system that requires less of your time, since you’ll have to transfer collected rain water to other barrels if your barrel gets too full.

Some people choose to create and customize their own barrels, but there are plenty available at the store. These will already have spouts attached so you can get at the water from the other side. Some can hold incredibly impressive amounts of water!

You need to make sure that you’ve placed your rain barrel on level ground. Otherwise the barrel may pull at your downspouts as it fills and becomes unbalanced. This could damage your entire gutter system, so this step is important.

If you can’t find level ground you may have to create it. This can mean using gravel or cinder blocks to make sure the barrel is sitting flat when it goes to work.

Next, you’ll need to install a filter. If you’re going to use your rain water for watering the lawn, watering your garden, filling your toilet or washing your car you’ll need only a simple filter to keep debris out of your rain barrel.

If you plan on drinking your water then you’ll need a filter with a little more kick. This means a chemical filter or a reverse osmosis filter. You’ll also need to purchase a water testing kit to be absolutely sure the water is safe to drink.

Most people don’t drink their rain water. They simply reserve it for other uses.

 

The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

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The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

Start Them Early, but Enjoy Them for Weeks

The first vine-ripened tomato may still be a few months away, but there’s plenty to keep you busy in the vegetable garden. Take advantage of the cool, wet weather of spring to put in multiple crops of peas and lettuce. It’s also a great time to get your perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, started.

 

    • Rows of growing Asparagus

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      There are many perennial vegetables – vegetables you can plant once and harvest for many years to come – but we only seem to grow a handful of them in our gardens. It’s true you have to devote space to them, sometimes for decades, but it’s worth it. Asparagus plants get more productive every year, and a mature harvest can last for months. Looking forward to the first tender, pencil-sized spears of asparagus poking through in the garden is a rite of spring. If you thought you didn’t likeMORE asparagus, you haven’t tried it freshly picked.

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      Rows of growing lettuce

      Carol Sharp Corbis/ Documentary/ Getty Images

      The cool, wet weather of Spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Lettuce may take a little protection to get it going in the early spring, but, oh, it never tastes better than when it’s grown in the crisp spring air. You will get the earliest and longest harvest from the cut-and-come-again varieties. Lettuce may require a little frost protection in spring, but it won’t bolt, and you will probably have time for 2-3 succession plantings.

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      A vast pile of snow peas

      Emmanuelle Grimaud / Getty Images

      There’s a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us don’t always get to take part in that tradition because of the snow covering our vegetable gardens. However, even in years when you can manage to get out there early, the peas planted later in April will quickly catch up to the peas planted in March. Peas don’t like freezing temperature, but they dislike heat worse. So don’t miss the window of opportunity. Get out there and plant a crop of your favorites, whetherMORE its shelling peas, snow peas or sugar snap peas.

      A closeup of growing rhubarb

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      Rhubarb is a vegetable we prepare like a fruit, and it is the first sweet “fruit” of the season. Rhubarb is another perennial gem of the vegetable garden. It really is a shame rhubarb is so underused in cooking, because it’s very easy to grow. Once you get your bed established, you can look forward to a rhubarb harvest every spring. One word of warning: the rhubarb crown quickly turns into a very dense brick that is hard to divide. If you need to move your rhubarb or want to divide theMORE plant, do it while the plant is young before it has time to develop strong roots.

  • A vast pile of spinach

    Tracy Packer Photography / Getty Images

    Spinach must be grown in cool weather, or it will quickly bolt to seed. There are varieties that claim to be bolt-resistant, but sooner or later, (usually sooner), they all go to seed. Luckily it also grows extremely quickly – which means you don’t have to wait long to enjoy it, but you’ll also have to keep planting new spinach, to extend the harvest. Getting spinach to grow is easy. Keeping your spinach growing takes some extra care, but it’s worth it. Fresh spinach is crisper, tangier andMORE more tender than any you’ll find in a cellophane bag. And it can grow in the shade of crops that will be taking off just as your spinach fades.

Dealing With Winter Damage

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Dealing With Winter Damage

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It’s early spring – time to survey the damage that winter has produced. In some areas, shrubs may still be hiding under piles of frozen snow, and could be crushed or compacted. Severed tree limbs may lie scattered across the landscape, and bark may be torn and stripped from trunks. It’s difficult to know what to tackle first, but fortunately, much of the damage is easily correctible.

Repairing Winter-Damaged Trees

When surveying and repairing winter damage, start with your trees – they are generally the most valuable additions to your property. As you survey the damage – broken limbs, torn bark, a tilting trunk – ask yourself “Is this tree salvageable or should it be removed?” If the damage is extensive, or you are unsure about how the damage may affect the tree’s overall health or future growth, hire a professional for a consultation. Replacing a severely damaged tree with a younger one, perhaps a type you like even better, may be the best solution.

If a limb is broken somewhere along its length, or damaged beyond repair, employ good pruning practices and saw off the remaining piece at the branch collar, being careful not to cut into the trunk or leave a stub. Sometimes a fallen limb may strip bark off the tree trunk. To repair this damage, cut the ragged edges of the loose bark away from the stripped area to firmly affixed healthy bark. Nature will take care of the rest. Even if the trunk of the tree is split, the tree may still be saved. For large trees, repairing this type of damage usually requires cabling and bracing done by a professional. If the tree is still young, the crotch may be pulled tightly together and tied or taped until the wound eventually heals.

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Repairing Winter-Damaged Shrubs

Shrubs can suffer the same damage as trees, including broken limbs and stripped bark. Heavy snowfall can crush smaller shrubs, and larger varieties may have their trunks or centers split from heavy snow or ice accumulation. Most shrubs are resilient, however, and slowly regain their shape as the weather warms. If branches are bent but not broken, you may tie them together to help them along and prevent further damage from late-season storms. Do not tie tightly and remove twine after about a year. Completely broken branches may be pruned away, but take care to maintain the shrub’s form and balance, keeping in mind its growth pattern so it will not look lopsided or ungainly. Again, if the damage is severe, you may need to replace the plant.

The harder the winter is, the more of a beating trees and shrubs will take. With prompt attention in early spring, however, you can easily undo much of the damage and help your landscape recover with ease.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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The snow and ice have melted, but this winter’s wild storms have left yards across the country in need of a major spring-cleaning. Here are some ideas for how to begin, inspired by the hyper-organized folks at Uncluttered:

  1. Remove the debris. If the winter’s seemingly incessant wind, rain, and snow have done a number on your trees, start your clean-up efforts by collecting the fallen branches and scattered sticks. If your town doesn’t pick up lawn debris on a regular basis, find out if any spring collection days have been planned or if there’s a nearby drop-off location you can deliver it to. You also can rent a wood-chipper from many garden or hardware stores and turn your debris into mulch.
  2. Rake dead leaves and twigs. Last year’s leaves will make great compost, but not if they keep the grass from absorbing sunlight. Thoroughly rake the yard and garden beds and, if you don’t plan to compost, investigate whether your town will be making special arrangements to collect bagged leaves.
  3. Prune and trim. Prune back weatherworn bushes and hedges as well as any perennials that look overgrown. Trim damaged tree limbs and branches that you can reach, and make arrangements for a professional tree-trimmer to take care of the rest.
  4. Map out landscaping and garden plans. If you’re going to make any changes to your current landscaping, make a sketch of your lawn indicating what sort of trees, shrubs, or plants you’d like to add. Even for DIY types, it’s always a good idea to consult with a gardener or landscaper at the nursery before making any final decisions or purchases.
  5. Start planting. Check the planting dates on your new purchases. Any plants, trees or shrubbery hearty enough to survive early spring’s still-cool nights can be put in the ground now.

Source: Unclutterer.com