News

Dos and Don’ts for Creating Your Bee-Friendly Garden

Dos and Don’ts for Creating Your Bee-Friendly Garden

Dos and Don’ts for Creating Your Bee-Friendly Garden by Maria Cannon

 

If you like apples, berries, almonds, avocados, and cucumbers, protecting the world’s bee population should be of vital importance to you. In fact, bees are responsible for pollinating at least 75 percent of all nut, fruit, and vegetable crops in the US. Without bees, our ecosystem would look much, much worse. These crucial pollinators are to thank for one out of every three bites of food you put in your mouth.

 

Starting a bee-friendly garden in your own backyard is one of the best ways to do your part to help protect your local bee populations. Here are some dos and don’ts for the beginning gardener.

 

DO plant native plants and flowers

 

Honeybees are not that picky when it comes to plants. They will forage both native and non-native plant species alike. But honeybees aren’t the only type of bees that you have to consider. There are thousands of other species of bees that play a crucial role in pollination, and most of them prefer native species of plants. Check out this resource for lists of native plants from nearly every region in the US.

 

DON’T spread similar flowers out across your garden

 

Bees prefer clusters of plants as opposed to spaced-out single flowers. If you have a bunch of sunflowers, for example, plant them together in your garden. Don’t plant one here and another across the yard. This is good news for people who wish to plant a garden in a smaller space. Not everyone has an acre for a garden, but using planters, window boxes, tiered planting systems, and walls and fences for flowering vines is actually a really good technique for attracting bees.

 

DO leave parts of your yard unkempt

 

If you love a perfectly-manicured garden, you’re not alone. They do look nice. But if you want to create a place where bees not only stop by for a taste of pollen, but also can live, you must leave some areas of your garden a bit unkempt. Most bees do not live in hives. The vast majority of bee species burrow into the ground, or make nests in mud or inside pieces of wood. By leaving part of your garden unkempt and part of it open, clear, unplanted ground, you can give bees a habitat. Also, be sure your landscaping is sloped so that water runoff won’t pool in your yard. Not only does this protect the foundation of your home, it ensures that any spots bees may want to burrow in aren’t compromised.

 

Bonus tip: don’t kill those dandelions and clover in your yard. Bees like them, and they are a good source of food for them during the times when other flowers are not yet in bloom.

 

DON’T treat your garden with pesticides

 

The prevailing theory of many scientists is that widespread pesticide use in agriculture is playing a part in the decline of bee populations. When growing your backyard garden, you should stay away from pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and any other chemicals used to kill pests or weeds. Bees exposed to such chemicals can be harmed. Even worse than that, however, is when bees bring these pesticides back to their nests or hives and damage the entire colony. Pesticides are especially brutal to young bees. When building your garden, you should go organic. You may have to deal with some extra bug bites on your leaves or some extra weeds - but it’s worth it to protect our most vital pollinators.

 

Most any garden you build is going to be a boon for bees, but there are steps you can take to make sure your garden is particularly friendly to your local bee population. If you plant native flowers in clusters, give bees a place to build a home, and refrain from using pesticides, you’ll be well on your way to making a bee-friendly space.

 By Maria Cannon

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

About Hawaiian Woodrose and Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds and plants

About Hawaiian Woodrose and Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds and plants
HAWAIIAN WOODROSE
		       Merremia tuberosa
A slender perennial vine with leaves divided into 5 to 7 narrow
Morning glory family (Convolvulaceae)

 lobes. The flowers are yellow, followed by a smooth round
capsule, surrounded by 5 petal-like sepals. Native to Asia;
naturalized and cultivated in Hawaii.

 CULTIVATION AND PROPAGATION: The large woodrose may be grown
outdoors in southern California and the South. The seed of the
large woodrose must be nicked well before it will grow. Cut a
nick in the seedcoat with a hacksaw, or cut the small end of
the seed off. Soak for 24 hours or until it swells. Then
place the seed in a bowl or cup of damp peat moss, cover it
with plastic wrap, and put it over the pilot light of your
stove, or anywhere that maintains a temparature of 80F or more.
Ordinary bottom heat usually isn't warm enough. Check every
few days until it sprouts in 4-10 days. Once sprouted, plant
in a 3- to 4-inch pot if grown indoors, or start seed in May if
to be grown outdoors. Place the pot in a large sunny window
and give the vine something to twine around. I have seen these
vines grown one foot or more per week. It is very easy to grow
after sprouting. It can take little or much watering and much
abuse. The vine will flower the second and subsequent years.

 HARVESTING: The pods may be harvested when they are thoroughly
dry. Its storage properties are the same as those of the baby
woodrose.

 
So, onto the baby...

       HAWAIIAN BABY WOODROSE
Argyreia nervosa Bojer.
Morning Glory family (Convolvulaceae)

 A large perennial climbing vine with heart-shaped leaves up to
1 foot across, backed with silvery hairs. The flowers are 2 to
3 inches long, rose-colored, on 6-inch stalks. Pods dry to a
smooth, dark brown, filbert-sized casule containing 1 to 4
furry brown seeds. The capsule is surrounded by a dry calyx
divided into 5 petal-like sections. Native to Asia;
naturalized and cultivated in Hawaii.

 CULTIVATION AND PROPAGATION: It may be grown outdoors in
southern California and Florida. Elsewhere it should be grown
in a large pot or tub outdoors in the summer, brought indoors
in winter. It may be propagated by cuttings or seeds, and in
the spring by division. The seed may be sprouted by making a
small nick in the seedcoat away from the germ eye. Soak the
seed until it swells. Plant 1/2-inch deep in loose rich soil.
Do not use bottom heat. After the cotyledons appear, water
sparingly, letting the soil surface dry out to a depth of
1/2-inch. Over-watering causes stem and root rot. The plant
grows slowly until it develops a half-dozen leaves; after this
it grows quickly. In its first year this plant grows into a
small bush 1 to 2 feet tall. During this time it may be grown
in a large pot and kept indoors in winter. The next spring it
will grow into a very large vine and should produce flowers and
seeds. In this second year it should be planted out, or grown
in a tub. In cold-winter areas the roots should be liften and
stored or the tub kept in a cool place until spring.
The methods of increasing the alkaloid content of morning
glories (which see) may be applied to this vine.

 HARVESTING: The seed pots should be harvested when thoroughly
dry. They should be stored in a cool, dry place. Their
potency may begin to decrease after 6-9 months.

What to do in your garden this May?

What to do in your garden this May?

What to do in your garden in May from Woman's weekly.

 

 

3 of the Best Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

3 of the Best Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

3 of the Best Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

The cold weather won’t last forever, and you may already be dreaming about spending sunny days outside in your yard. If a spring garden is a part of that dream, you should make it a reality this year. Even if your thumb isn’t green, our spring gardening tips will help you get started.

  1. Start Small

You need to rein in your enthusiasm when you plan your first spring garden from scratch. You can’t expect to have a blossoming, thriving garden this spring if you’ve never gardened before. In fact, many gardeners start their spring gardens during the previous fall. But don’t be discouraged. You can start on a smaller scale and build your skills and garden until you have the lush garden of your dreams.

Begin by learning as much as you can about the plants that are native to your area. Native plants will thrive in your garden and require less maintenance. They’ll also be more resistant to the pests and weather issues where you live.

 

You can conduct online research, talk to someone at a local nursery, or contact an expert at a local college or university to determine which plants are ideal for your first spring garden. You can start these plants as seedlings indoors, and then transplant them when you have your garden patch area ready after the ground thaws to get a jumpstart on your garden.

  1. Think Outside the Box

Because you won’t have a patch of ground ready for your garden early in spring, you should think outside the box and start a container garden or planter that you can move outdoors when the time comes. Redfin suggests starting a spiral garden, a container water garden, or an upcycled planter. Spiral gardens will add height to your garden and enable you to plant several plants in a small space.

 

Container water gardens add texture and an interesting visual feature to your spring garden. Upcycled planters allow you to be artistic and create a tiered feature for your garden that holds several plants.

  1. Prepare Your Garden Space

As you start growing your seedlings indoors and preparing your container plants, you need to plan your garden space. Choose an area that gets direct sunlight for a good portion of the day and is not shaded by large trees or outdoor buildings. As soon as the ground is no longer frozen, clear the area you have chosen for your garden of all vegetation, including grass, roots, and weeds.

Preparing the soil is one of the most important steps in creating your garden space. After all, the soil is the foundation for your garden: it houses the plants and provides nourishment to them. You will need to test your soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels. You can purchase an at-home testing kit at a home improvement or gardening store, or you can send a sample of it to a local nursery or cooperative extension.

 

Different plants prefer various pH levels, so the results will help you know which plants will thrive or how to treat your soil to support a greater variety of plants. Keep in mind that your soil test also will help you determine which kind of fertilizer to add to your garden and when. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension offers some tips for fertilizing that will be useful to you.

You also need to consider the texture of your soil. It should be easy to shovel, and it should crumble in your hands to allow your plants to grow roots. Hard soil or soil with too much clay is not ideal for plants. To improve your soil, add fresh soil, mulch, and compost while turning it over to aerate it as much as possible before you plant. Remember that your plant’s roots need to be able to grow downward, so prepare the soil as deeply as your largest plants require.

Spring gardening is possible for beginners if you start small and have patience. Think outside the box with various container plants while you ready your garden space. Most importantly, choose the right space for your garden and prepare the soil to support your plants.

Image via Pixabay by congerdesign

 

By Maria Cannon

Flowers that Bloom in Winter?

Flowers that Bloom in Winter?
Well, it sure depends where you live... Gardeners in the South and Southern California can choose from a wealth of plants -- annuals and perennials -- that prefer cooler temperatures and offer beautiful winter flowers.
  • Winter Flowering Annuals. ...
  • Sweet Alyssum. ...
  • Calendula. ...
  • Honeywort. ...
  • Sweet Pea. ...
  • Pansies and Violets. ...
  • Pinks. ...
  • Winter Jasmine.
The rest of the country is really hit and miss depending on early spring and varieties.

Fall Cover Crop. Do's and Don't and Directions!

Fall Cover Crop.  Do's and Don't and Directions!

With every harvest, the soil nutrients that produced the crop are removed and end up nourishing our bodies, rather than next year's crop. For this reason, farmers and gardeners have to replenish the soil every year. Adding fertilizers and compost is one way to accomplish the task, but nutrients can also be returned with a cover crop—plants that give back to the soil what others have removed.  While we sell fertilizer we sure would much rather go with cover crop.

 

Cover Crops are typically planted as seeds directly in the ground (not transplanted) at the end of the growing season after the last of the summer crops have been harvested and before cold weather sets in. Many cover crops are legumes that convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a soluble form that other plants can absorb. Some cover crops accumulate other essential nutrients like phosphorus, but all cover crops add organic matter to the soil. Rather than being harvested for food, cover crops are tilled back into the soil at the end of their growing cycle where the nutrients are released as the plants decompose. In a way, cover cropping is like composting in situ—no need for hauling in manure or building a pile—and they’re sometimes called ‘green manure’ for this reason.

There are other reasons to plant cover crops. Winter rains can cause erosion problems for farmers and gardeners, so it’s important to maintain vegetative cover once the crops have been harvested for the year. Planting a dense cover crop in fall prevents weeds from getting established, so there is less weeding to do come spring. When a cover crop starts to flower in late winter or early spring, it’s an early source of nectar for bees, who will then be ready to pollinate your orchard (or start making honey, if you’re a beekeeper).

Which Seeds to Plant

There are three main categories of cool season cover crops, no matter if you’re a small-scale gardener or larger scale farmer:

Legumes: clovers (crimson, red, Dutch white, berseem, sweet, etc.), hairy vetch, fava beans, bell beans and Austrian winter peas

These species can produce up to 300 pounds of nitrogen per acre in the soil. For the best nitrogen production, the seeds should be inoculated with Rhizobia bacteria, microbes that live on the roots of legumes and do the work of nitrogen “fixation.” Many seed suppliers offer pre-inoculated seed.

Grasses: oats, barley, annual ryegrass and winter rye

These grains aren’t just for eating; they produce copious quantities of organic matter to enrich the soil. Their roots help break up compacted clay soil and they are very cold hardy, allowing farmers and gardeners in northern areas to overwinter their cover crops.

Others: brassicas (oilseed radish, mustard, etc), buckwheat, phacelia

Buckwheat accumulates phosphorus, while brassica cover crops are known for having 4-foot taproots that chisel into the subsoil, improving drainage. Phacelia is a great early spring bee plant.

Rather than sowing a single cover crop, some growers opt to combine them to take advantage of their many attributes in a single planting. Seed companies have formulated special cover crop blends just for this purpose, so you don’t have to do the guesswork about how much of each variety to use. Cover crops vary in their adaptability to soil type and climate, so buy locally or consult with a rep from your favorite mail order seed company before making a purchase to be sure you’re getting the best seeds for your area.

When to Plant

The general rule of thumb is to sow cover crop seed one month before the average date of first frost in your area. Yet, some cover crops need warmer weather than others to germinate, so check the seed package for a specific recommendation. The most cold hardy cover crops, which include rye, Dutch white clover and hairy vetch, germinate well in cool weather so they may be planted up until the first frost.

How to Sow the Seeds (The Dirty Gardener's of course but which type?)

Cover crops are always seeded directly in the ground, rather than transplanted from pots. If using legume seed, inoculate it 24 hours prior to planting time (unless it has been pre-inoculated as we sell both).

  1. Till or fork the soil to loosen it to a depth of at least 3 or 4 inches and to remove any existing vegetation.
  2. Smooth out the soil with a hard metal rake to make an even seed bed.
  3. Scatter the seed by hand or with a seed spreader (Earthway is what we sell for small gardens) (the same tool used to spread grass seed) at the rate indicated on the seed package. Application rates vary from one to four pounds per 1,000 square feet, depending on the variety.
  4. Rake the soil again to cover the seed. Small seeds (like rye) should stay close to the surface, so just give those a very light rake; larger seeds (like fava beans) need to go deeper, so rake the soil more vigorously for those.
  5. Keep the seedbed moist with a sprinkler until germination occurs. Or, you can wait for rain to come and do the watering for you.

Irrigation may be necessary to get the seedlings established if the weather is warm and dry, but in most climates the soil remains sufficiently moist from rainfall once the weather cools off in fall. The cover crop will grow until temperatures are consistently below freezing and then become dormant for the winter. Growth will resume in early spring. Several weeks before you’re ready to plant in spring, cut the cover crop to the ground with a mower. Let it decompose on the surface for about one week and then till it into the soil so the nutrients are available for the first crops of spring.

How to Get You and Your Yard Back In Shape

How to Get You and Your Yard Back In Shape

Getting a jumpstart on a fitness routine is sometimes a challenge, especially if you’ve been out of practice for any period of time. Weight loss and trimming down your body take a little time and some hard work to get there, but the results are something to be proud of and make you feel good. Similar to exercise, gardening and landscaping can also be hard work, but something to admire when it’s complete. Both of these require maintenance to stay in top condition, and it seems only natural to combine the two. If you have a yard or garden to maintain and want to get back into shape, step outside with some pruning shears and get to work.

 

Gardening and landscaping are very functional forms of exercise. Instead of just jogging around the block or lifting weights at the gym, yard work accomplishes a task, and gets you into shape. If you’re fresh into yard work and are just learning how to get a handle on it, try starting with mowing the lawn and pruning trees and shrubs. Pruning is the process of controlling the growth of a plant or tree to give it a pleasing shape, to maintain its health, encourage growth and optimize space. It is an indispensable skill when it comes to yard work and it will keep you and your yard looking trim.

 

While exercising, it’s good to combine workouts that not only raise your heartrate but also help you build muscle, and yard work is where it’s at. You won’t even have to think about switching up your routine; you’ll simply move through the various jobs your yard needs done. For instance, mowing the lawn with a push mower that has a motor, and trimming trees, both burn about 180 calories in 30 minutes. Even watering the lawn helps burn around 60 calories in a half hour, and clearing debris burns another 200.

 

Not only are you burning through calories, but you’re also giving your arms a good workout while holding the shears and working your legs and back with the cleanup. You can easily see how yard work can get your body back into tip-top shape with regular upkeep.

 

While you’re outside muscling through your yard work, be sure you listen to your body, especially if you’re just getting back into working out again. Try not to do it all in one day, break it up into a few days so you can give your body some time to adjust to your new routine, giving it an opportunity to rest and heal. If you do too much in one day you may set yourself back since your body will need a lot of time to recover. Doing too much could potentially diminish your desire to get into shape or even work on the yard again.

 

Another risk of overdoing it is dehydration. Knowing your limits out in the heat is crucial, especially if you live in a warmer climate, or are out in the sun for long periods of time. Be sure to be well hydrated, and not just while you’re doing the work. Have a couple glasses of water before you even start so they can absorb into your body, and drink a lot of water in the following days as this will help your body heal.

 

It is also important to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. Be sure to use sun protective clothing and sunscreen on exposed skin. Utilizing eye protection and wearing long pants can help reduce the risk of causing injuries from flying debris. A good pair of work gloves will also come in handy when using tools or picking up piles of trimmings.

 

Whether you’re just trying to keep your lawn from getting out of control or you’re pruning the small forest you have in front of your house, yard work is an excellent form of exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just spending a good 30 minutes a day a few times a week will accomplish a lot. As you work your way through all of the landscaping tasks, you’ll start to see it taking shape, and so will you. Stand back and admire your work, be proud and feel good about everything you have accomplished.

Maria Cannon

Hobbyjr.org

maria@hobbyjr.org

What do do in your garden in June.

What do do in your garden in June.

June is my favorite time in the garden because in the Pacific NW it finally has stopped raining all the time!  Soil is still moist and you really have not needed to do any watering yet.

Here is a list of things to do in the various gardens you may take care of in June.

In your Flower Garden
• Plant out annual summer bedding plants now the risk of frost has passed.
• Plant up containers, hanging baskets and planters now the risk of frost has passed. If you have them growing on in a greenhouse move them outside to their final position.
• Continue to thin out drifts of hardy annuals if they're overcrowded.
• Lift and divide clumps of snowdrops and bluebells once the leaves start to yellow.
• Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of bulbs.
• Keep newly planted trees and shrubs well watered whilst they establish.
• It's not too late to sow seeds of annual plants - for a full list of annuals that you can still sow now see our what to sow and grow page.
• Now there is space on windowsills again, think about sowing biennials for next year.
• Pinch out the tips of your Fuchsias to encourage a bushy habit and more flowers.
• If any of your hanging basket plants have become leggy or misshapen, simply trim the excess off - this will encourage bushy growth.
• As soon as your sweet peas start to flower, keep picking them to encourage more blooms.
• Dead-head your roses if they are repeat-flowering types. Otherwise leave the seed heads on for decoration.
• Dead-head and cut back oriental poppies after flowering. Cutting them close to ground level will stimulate new foliage.
• Towards the end of June, if your hardy Geraniums have finished flowering cut them back to encourage new foliage and flowers.
• Cut back bulb foliage as soon as it has died down naturally.
• Stake tall or floppy perennial plants to prevent wind damage.
• As new shoots grow, tie in and train climbing plants such as honeysuckle and clematis to their supports. Use Soft-Tie Wrap for a secure tie.
• Prune out overcrowded or dead stems of evergreen Clematis such as Clematis armandii after it has finished flowering to maintain a good shape.
• Harvest flower heads from your lavender plants to use in baking or as a garnish to your meals!

In the vegetable garden


Colin Randel
Colin Randel (Vegetable Product Manager) says...

• Pinch out any side shoots from your tomato plants and feed once the first truss is setting fruit. You can pot up the side-shoots to create new tomato plants.
• Continue to earth up potato plants as they grow. If you're growing potatoes in bags simply add more compost to half way up the plant stem.
• Harvest salad crops and resow every 2 weeks for a constant supply of tasty leaves.
• Harvest early potatoes - these are normally ready from 10 weeks after planting.
• Look out for onion and garlic leaves yellowing and dying back - this means they are ready to harvest!
• Plant out tender vegetables such as courgettes, squash, tomatoes and sweet corn now the risk of frost has passed.
• When planting out cabbages, use cabbage collars to prevent cabbage root fly attack.
• There is still time to plant runner beans - sow them directly in the ground now.
• Protect crops from carrot fly by covering with horticultural fleece or enviromesh.

 In the fruit garden

• Start to prune your plum or cherry trees now.
• Although fruit trees will naturally shed some fruit (called the 'June drop'), aim to thin out congested branches further for bigger and better fruits.
• Protect any developing fruits from birds and squirrels by placing netting around your plants.
• If you have plants fruiting in containers, make sure you give them a high potash liquid feed to keep plants healthy and productive.
• Top-dress patio dwarf fruit trees with fresh compost and a slow-release fertiliser.
• Peg down runners on your strawberry plants to create more plants for next year. If you don't need more plants simply remove the strawberry runners completely.

 In the greenhouse

• Continue to harden off half-hardy bedding plants to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions.
• Open vents and doors on warm days.
• Check plants daily and water them if the soil is dry.
• Use blinds or apply shade paint to prevent the greenhouse from over-heating in sunny weather.
• Damp down your greenhouse on hot days to increase humidity and deter red spider mites.

Looking after your lawn


• If you are experiencing prolonged dry weather, set your mower blades higher to reduce stress on the grass.
• Water your lawn during hot weather, particularly newly seeded or turfed lawns. Do not allow new lawns to dry out.
• Warm weather encourages rapid weed growth - apply specific lawn weed killer to tackle this problem.
• Feed your lawn with a special lawn fertiliser to encourage healthy green growth.
• Recut any lawn edges if needed. Try installing lawn edging to make future maintenance easier.

From your armchair


• There's still time to order flower plants and vegetable plants online if you didn't get round to sowing seed in time this year.
• Beat the drought and order some ground cover plants for years of easy-maintenance colour.

Other jobs about the garden


• Water your containers and baskets well in hot weather. Start to feed them with a balanced liquid fertiliser every 2 to 4 weeks.
• To conserve water, water the soil rather than the plants and make ‘ponds’ around individual plants so that the water can really soak in, ideally wetting the soil quite deeply, say to 25cm (10in). Thorough watering like this supports plants for 14 days, but merely wetting the surface wastes water, encourages weeds and can lead to surface rooting making the plants more vulnerable.
• Use water butts as much as you can to water your plants.
• Keep removing blanketweed from your pond to allow the plants and fish room to breathe. Try using Pond Wizard to clear your pond effectively.
• Keep an eye out for white powdery mildew on plants. If possible, remove the affected parts and spray with a fungicide to prevent further spread.
• Look for aphids on the underside of leaves - rub them off by hand or spray with an insecticide to prevent them multiplying. Alternatively try using a natural pest control such as Lacewing larvae
• Keep an eye out for scarlet lily beetles on your lilies - remove and crush any you see. Also check for the sticky brown larvae on the underside of leaves.
• Check for vine weevils by tipping your plants out of their pots and looking for 'C' shaped creamy maggots amongst the roots. Treat with nematodes if vine weevils are spotted.
• Prevent slugs attacking your young plants by using nemaslug
• Clip evergreen hedges such as Privet, Box and Yew whilst they are in active growth.
• Turn the compost in your compost bins every month to keep it well aerated.
• Keep bird baths topped up in hot weather.
• Plant out annual summer bedding plants now the risk of frost has passed.
• Plant up containers, hanging baskets and planters now the risk of frost has passed. If you have them growing on in a greenhouse move them outside to their final position.
• Continue to thin out drifts of hardy annuals if they're overcrowded.
• Lift and divide clumps of snowdrops and bluebells once the leaves start to yellow.
• Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of bulbs.
• Keep newly planted trees and shrubs well watered whilst they establish.
• It's not too late to sow seeds of annual plants - for a full list of annuals that you can still sow now see our what to sow and grow page.
• Now there is space on windowsills again, think about sowing biennials for next year.
• Pinch out the tips of your Fuchsias to encourage a bushy habit and more flowers.
• If any of your hanging basket plants have become leggy or misshapen, simply trim the excess off - this will encourage bushy growth.
• As soon as your sweet peas start to flower, keep picking them to encourage more blooms.
• Dead-head your roses if they are repeat-flowering types. Otherwise leave the seed heads on for decoration.
• Dead-head and cut back oriental poppies after flowering. Cutting them close to ground level will stimulate new foliage.
• Towards the end of June, if your hardy Geraniums have finished flowering cut them back to encourage new foliage and flowers.
• Cut back bulb foliage as soon as it has died down naturally.
• Stake tall or floppy perennial plants to prevent wind damage.
• As new shoots grow, tie in and train climbing plants such as honeysuckle and clematis to their supports. Use Soft-Tie Wrap for a secure tie.
• Prune out overcrowded or dead stems of evergreen Clematis such as Clematis armandii after it has finished flowering to maintain a good shape.
• Harvest flower heads from your lavender plants to use in baking or as a garnish to your meals!

Credit to Thompson & Morgan

What to do in your garden in May

What to do in your garden in May

April shower bring May flowers.  Love this saying except when it continues to rain in May and all spring.

Here are things you can do in your garden or should do this May.

• Thin out drifts of hardy annuals.
• If potted Harden* off half-hardy plants by leaving them outside during the day and bringing back under cover at night for 7 to 10 days before planting outdoors.
• Harden off dahlias and tender exotics such as Canna for planting as soon as the risk of frost has passed.
• You can still divide herbaceous perennials now to improve their vigour and create new plants.
• Divide Hostas as they come into growth.
• Trim back spreading plants such as aubrieta, alyssum and candytuft after they have flowered to encourage fresh new growth and more flowers.
• Don't be tempted to cut down or tie up the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs, let them die down naturally.
• To reduce the spread of forget-me-not, lift the plants now to prevent heavy self-seeding. Pictured.
• Prune your Penstemons now - cut all the old shoots back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant. If there are no new shoots at the base, cut just above the lowest set of leaves.
• Take cuttings of tender perennials such as Fuchsia, Argyranthemum and Pelargoniums (geraniums). The new shoots of hardy perennials can also be used for cuttings.
• Take softwood cuttings of shrubby herbs (such as sage and lemon verbena)
• Prune out overcrowded and dead stems of early-flowering clematis (C. alpina, C. cirrhosa, C. macropetala, C. armandii and their cultivars) after flowering.
• Tie in climbing and rambling roses. Laying the stems horizontally will help to produce more flowers.
• Tie in your sweet peas with plant support rings to encourage them to climb.
• Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering.
• Cut back flowered shoots of Choisya to promote a second flush of flowers in autumn.
• Trim lavender plants now, cutting off any old flower heads and about 2.5cm (1 inch) of the current year's growth.
• Feed and water container plants.
• Top-dress permanent pot plants to refresh the compost.
• Give your container plants a balanced liquid feed every two to four weeks to promote healthy growth.
• Plant up pots and baskets of summer bedding and harden off before placing in position. In cold areas wait until June.
• Start to closely inspect your plants for pests and diseases - early prevention is easier than curing an infestation.
• Pick off larvae of rosemary, viburnum and lily beetles as soon as they are seen.
• Look out for signs of blackspot on roses. If discovered, Blackspot can be treated with a systemic fungicide.
• Continue to weed beds and borders to prevent competition for water and nutrients.

 

Harden, this means that you will have to gradually acclimatize them to outdoors over a period of time, which will result in a hardier plant. Start by putting plants out during daytime hours and bringing them back indoors in the evening

What to do in your Garden in April by Zone.

What to do in your Garden in April by Zone.

Here's your April gardening guide for North America's USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3-10. We've left off zones 1–2 (far-north Alaska) and zones 11–13 (small section of the Florida Keys, the Pacific coast between L.A. and Mexico, and Hawaii) since zones 3–10 cover 99 percent or more of the gardeners in the U.S.

Zone 3

Dig up and enjoy parsnips still left in the garden from last fall.
Dig compost into beds as soon as the soil can be worked.
Fertilize established lawns.
If weather allows, plant onion sets, lettuce, spinach, peas, sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), carrots, and parsnips in the garden.
Indoors, continue to start seeds of squash, melons, and corn.
Start gladiolus corms indoors.
Sprout seed potatoes by moving them from cold storage into room temperature.
In the last week of the month, remove winter covering from tender roses, perennials, and strawberries.


Zone 4

When the soil has warmed and dried, plant cold-tolerant crops, such as peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and onion.
In flowerbeds, plant lilies, primroses, and lilies-of-the-valley.
Plant raspberries as soon as possible, but wait until the soil has begun to warm before planting strawberries.
Dig and divide perennials, such as daylilies and irises.
Indoors, start tomato seeds if you plan to set them out under protective covering next month.
If you're planning To Grow Broccoli start seeds indoors for an early crop—but don't delay; soon it will be too warm.


Zone 5

If the ground has thawed, divide and replant perennials, such as asters, bee balm, and hostas.
Plant roses and lily bulbs.
When the ground is warm and dry, transplant early tomatoes outdoors, inside protective Wallo'Waters.
Seed a second crop of lettuce (start the seeds indoors or sow them directly in the garden).
Sow spinach in the garden to get tender leaves before the weather warms.


Zone 6

Clean up the garden in preparation for the season ahead: Remove last year's dead plants, rake back winter mulches, and top-dress beds with compost.
After you've finished preparing your beds, plant potatoes, peas, spinach, and other leafy greens as well as beets, turnips, and carrots.
Put up a trellis for tall varieties of peas as soon as they sprout.
Dig, divide, and replant perennials, such as helenium, fall asters, Shasta daisies, chrysanthemums, and phlox.
As soon as the weather settles, plant transplants of pansies, forget-me-nots (Myosotis spp.), foxglove (Digitalis spp.), and other cool-weather flowers.
Sow seeds of sweet peas, bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus), and larkspur (Consolida ajacis) in flowerbeds.

Zone 7

Pass by broccoli and cabbage on sale at garden centers—hot weather will soon arrive, causing plants to go to seed instead of forming edible heads.
Thin crowded carrots, chard, and lettuce.
Remove floating row covers from peas early in the month. Drive tall, twiggy branches into the ground next to the plants for support.
Mulch around the base of cool-season crops to keep their roots cool and moist.
Select new azalea and rhododendron bushes while they're in bloom to make sure that the color complements your landscape.


Zone 8


Give flowers and vegetables a foliar feeding of liquid seaweed or compost tea; spray the liquid nutrients on foliage early in the day before it gets too hot.
Plant black-eyed, purple hull and crowder peas, okra, peanut plant, sweet potatoes, squash, melons, cucumbers, and corn—all can withstand the heat that will arrive in less than 2 months.
Keep planting basil—it loves the warm weather.
Plant "bulbs" of caladium, calla, gladiolus, and water lily.
Keep adding kitchen scraps and grass clippings to your compost pile.
Replenish your mulch!


Zone 9

If slugs and snails are decimating your plants, collect them in the evening, when you're most likely to spot them.
Plant pumpkins, summer squash, melons, and other vegetables that thrive in heat.
Every 2 weeks from now until late summer, plant small blocks of bush beans and sweet corn to extend the harvest until frost.
Thin fruits on fruit trees to increase their size and keep branches from breaking.
Plant summer bedding plants, such as petunias, lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), wax begonias, and impatiens.
Sow seeds of nasturtiums, marigolds, portulaca, amaranthus, salvias, vinca (Catharanthus roseus), sunflowers, and zinnias.
Plant perennials like ornamental alliums, bellflowers (Campanula spp.), daisies, yarrow, daylilies, coreopsis, penstemon, perennial geraniums (Geranium spp.), iris, and statice.

Zone 10

Plant perennials so they can settle in before the summer heat arrives; give them plenty of water.
Plant heat-loving bedding plants, such as vinca (Catharanthus roseus), strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum), blanket flowers (Gaillardia spp.), and gazanias.
Plant roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), amaranth, and Malabar spinach (Basella alba) now through August; make sure you give the Malabar spinach some shade and extra water.
Try some tropical edibles: Buy malanga, gingerroot, and others at the market. Cut them into pieces at least 1⁄2 inch long, and plant. Harvest from October through December.
Trellis tropical cucurbits (luffa, chayote, Tahitian squash, and so on) on a fence, and reap the rewards this fall.

 

Gardener's April To-Do ListEverything that needs to be done in the dirt this month, wherever you live.by ROL Staff April 1, 2016

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/gardeners-april-do-list

 

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