A GROWING CONCERN: For garden chores, keep the spring in your step

SO THE DREAM Playground build is going wonderfully. Thank you for those who have come down so far or donated your tools to be used for the cause. As a final plea and request, the organizers are slightly concerned about not having enough volunteers on Sunday to finish the task. If any of you wonderful gardeners have any time this Sunday to come on down and help in any capacity, on any job, it will be greatly appreciated by not only me but the entire community.

The seasons, they are a-changing! Today marks the beginning of early late spring, with only 30 more days until summer.

With the approaching end of the season, let us first recall that this is the trimester of record keeping. Before memory fades and the summer garden consumes all thought and energy, remember to make notes to yourself. What were your problems this spring? Did you need to attack the weeds earlier? Were their great gaps between blooming bulb plants requiring the addition of early-mids or late early flowering types? What about items out of place, once doing poorly or the addition of ones you saw and really liked somewhere else?

Start now reviewing this spring and jot down notes that give you a more desirable outcome next year.

Remember, it is in the creation of your yard that lies a real inner experience. However, it is May, and that is also our time of the greatest workload outside.

Lots of water needed.

There is a chore I want you to stress yet again. We are dry! If you have planted trees within the last year — fruit trees or some particularly nice ornamental plants — or have bushes, shrubs and trees that have or soon will bloom, deep water them.

It is, as we always point out, an individual circumstance unique to each yard, but as a whole, we are dry. Very dry.

May is perhaps the greatest time of moisture requirement by your plants. The leaves are coming forth, new buds are being formed, root and stem development is rapid, even fruit is sitting — all of these are high-moisture processes, especially in fruit or berry production. Blossoms need ample amounts of water for establishing high yield.

So go out, dig a small hole around your various trees and see if conditions are damp (in May ,soil should be damp 2 or 3 inches below ground).

To carry on this theme, now is the perfect time for your foliar feeds. While your plants are still fresh out of the greenhouse and out into your yard, give them the same professional treatment they were receiving.

Most horticulture establishments send a fertilizer through the hose consistently at a 25 percent to 50 percent solution. Especially while they are young and still in transplant shock, it is a good idea to give them some foliar feeds.

This is also the time to look carefully at your new plantings. If you are planting lobelia, let’s say, two trays and a few plants look noticeably poorer than the rest even a week or 10 days after planting — junk them! Like a large batch of puppies, there will always be the runt of the tray. Now, while your plants are new and small, replace them so your bed will be consistent.

Be on the alert for slugs.

Next, let’s move to slugs, because as you read this, they have moved next to your favorite plant and are inviting their friends to a smorgasbord as well. Dahlias, lilies, delphiniums, hostas, lupines and a whole host of other favorites are being laid to waste as we speak.

If you are new to here or these plants, it only takes one night for a slug to eat out the entire bloom head or growing tip.

We should probably have an article just on these little bags of slime with teeth. For now, realize they need to be dealt with in whatever manner you choose.

Roses are another host to a variety of pathogens, and control methods now are wise. Although I am generally anti-chemical, roses are one place I prefer using a systemic insecticide and fungicide.

Don’t forget your lawn.

As for your lawn, take a look and remember it requires a few weeks of fertilizer to become available.

May and June provide an ideal time for lawn food.

If you ever wanted to paint your grass green, try applying an iron product now. Oh, yes, I would sharpen the blade on your mower then also; you are going to need it.

Everything in your yard is coming on — the weeds, the flowers, the bugs and the slugs. Keeping ahead of the game in the beginning makes the summer a joy.

It’s called protecting your investment, and it is what the end of May here is all about! And remember to stay well.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsulanews.us (subject line: Andrew May).

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