Sow seeds for cool-season crops including peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets and turnips before the heat of early summer gets here.
Transplant Bonnie cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, etc. into the garden.
If you feel like there won’t be another frost, plant beans, corn, squash and vine crops in late April. Make a second planting within two to three weeks of the first planting to extend the season.
Start to set out Bonnie tomatoes late in the month as ground temperatures warm. Tomatoes need nights above 50 degrees. Cover when frost threatens.
Plant tall-growing crops such as pole beans and corn on the north side of other vegetables to avoid shading. Plant at least two rows of corn for better pollination.
Be sure to plant enough vegetables for canning and freezing.
If your space is limited, consider growing vegetables in containers. Containers also require less time, water and effort than a larger garden.
Plant tender herbs.
Plant new fruit trees.
Plant strawberries, blackberries and other small fruit.
Seeds of amaranthus, celosia, cosmos, marigold, portulaca, zinnia and other warm-season flowering annuals can be sown directly in the beds where they will grow.
Move summer-flowering bulbs like dahlia, lilies and gladiolus outside to their summer locations after all danger of frost has passed.
If you want to relocate daffodils, it is okay to dig them after they have bloomed. Do not remove leaves. Replant them as you would any other transplant and leave the leaves to die down on their own.
Repot houseplants as needed. Increase pot size by 1 inch.
Fertilize garlic planted last fall as greens get up and growing.
A good schedule to follow for fertilizing Bermuda grass, zoysia and St. Augustine is the "Major Holidays Rule." Divide your total nitrogen requirement for the year by four. Put down this rate of nitrogen on or near each of the four holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.
Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs after they bloom.
Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins.
Roses have high fertilizer requirements. For most soils, use a complete fertilizer for the first application just as new growth starts, then use ammonium sulfate or other high nitrogen source every four to six weeks, usually just as the new growth starts following a flowering cycle. For organic sources use cottonseed, rotted manures or alfalfa meal.
As soon as azaleas and camellias have finished flowering, apply an acid fertilizer at the rate recommended. Don’t over fertilize as azalea roots are near the surface and damage can occur. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.
Fertilize potted amaryllis and keep in bright light to encourage new leaves.
Begin summer fertilization of houseplants.
Spring pruning promotes healthy growth, eliminates dead wood and extends blooming for many plants. This revitalizes and stimulates new growth! A healthier plant is a lovelier plant with more blossoms, a good-looking shape and lots of natural beauty.
Proper tools are needed for pruning, depending on the size and type of plant. Scissors, hedge clippers, pruning shears and loppers are all handy to have for various pruning jobs. For big jobs such as cutting thick tree limbs a handsaw, Sawzall-type electric saw or even a chainsaw may be the tool for the job. Visit your local Co-op store for advice.
It’s now safe to cut back your Buddleia (butterfly bush). Because of our very cold temperatures this winter, severe damage has occurred on some Buddleia. These may need to be cut back harder (2-6 inches from the ground) and will regrow from the rootstock.
Cut back last year’s growth from perennials.
Prune blackberry plantings and fruit trees if not already done. Pruning promotes fruit production.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as forsythia, quince and ornamental almond after flowering. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.
Prune shade trees as needed and to repair winter storm damage.
Remove seed heads from spring bulbs. Do not remove foliage from spring-flowering bulbs as growth is needed for next year’s flowers.
The butchering of beautiful crepe myrtles is going on everywhere. Banks, schools, along the highways, grocery stores … it’s like a disease! Don’t top your crepe myrtles … it makes them look stupid! Topping is not pruning! Never top a crepe myrtle or any other tree for that matter.
Remove flowers and flower buds on new plants to give plants a chance to be established.
Prune paniculata hydrangeas and hydrangea "Annabelle" (not moptop blue hydrangeas).
Remove winter-damaged ground covers with trimmers or shears.
Climbing hybrid tea roses may be pruned as soon as they complete flowering.
Prune, repot and clean houseplants as needed.
Do not water your lawn unless extremely dry. Early irrigation sets turf up as a high water user in summer.
Keep new trees and shrubs watered.
As you do your spring planting, be sure to plan how you will water this summer. Place those plants requiring the most water closer to the house.
Remember the pots you plant this spring will need to be watered daily this summer. Consider how much time you will have for watering each day before you plant. Hanging baskets may need to be watered as often as twice a day in the heat of summer.
Always read and follow label directions when applying any pesticides!
It’s time to begin a regular spray schedule for your fruit trees. Use an all-in-one fruit tree spray that combines an insecticide and a fungicide. Follow the schedule recommended on the label for your specific type of fruit trees. Do not spray insecticides while fruits flower in order to protect honeybees and other pollinators.
Keep your lawn healthy. A good lawn-care program of aerating, dethatching, fertilizing and proper watering will keep your lawn healthy and better able to tolerate some pest problems.
Are broadleaf weeds taking over your beautiful lawn? How bad was crabgrass last year? Get in there and fight back! There are several excellent products on the market today that will control a wide range of lawn weeds. Your local Co-op store has the products and the expertise to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood!
White grubs are one of the most common lawn pests in the United States and one of the most damaging. They are the larval form of beetles. The best time to control these pests is in the spring and fall when they are actively feeding close to the surface. If you want results the active ingredient in a product is the only thing that matters … and it better be imidacloprid or thiamethoxam. Write these words down now and put the piece of paper in your wallet or purse!
Now is the best time to control tent caterpillars while they are small. These young caterpillars can be controlled safely (without harming beneficial insects) by spraying Bonide BT Thuricide.
It will soon be time for bagworms to attack junipers and other narrow-leafed evergreens. Control measures should be applied while the insects and the bags are about one-half inch in length.
Cultivate to control seedling weed growth … you don’t want them to seed!
Do not work in your garden when the foliage is wet to avoid spreading diseases from one plant to another.
If you had black spot on your rose foliage last year, begin spraying with a fungicide now.
Botrytis is a fungal disease causing blackened spots on buds, leaves and stems of many perennials including peonies. If you noticed this disease on your peonies last year, use a fungicide for prevention now.
Rake away old foliage from iris and dispose of it. Eggs of the iris borer overwinter on this old foliage and you must get rid of the debris now before the eggs hatch.
Bait or hand pick snails on an overcast, damp morning. Don’t let them get a foothold on your garden.
Check new tender growth for aphids. A few can be tolerated, but large numbers should be controlled.
Review entries to your 2013 garden journal. If you don’t have one, start one now.
Make sure your garden beds are not too wet. Soil should crumble instead of forming a ball when squeezed. If it’s been raining and the soil is saturated, you’ll have to postpone your gardening for a bit longer.
Cultivate to control weeds and grass, to break crusty soil and to provide aeration.
The first hummingbirds begin to appear this month in parts of the state. Clean the feeders and hang them for the "early birds."
If you haven’t already, have your mower serviced and blade sharpened before it’s needed. Next time, do this earlier before the rush.
Remove mulch from strawberries, but consider having row cover fabric handy just in case you need to protect the blooms from a late frost.
Remove any protective winter covering you provided for roses such as mulch, compost or specialized rose cones. Keep the covering nearby in case of late freezes.
Harden off transplants started indoors earlier by gradually exposing young plants to outdoor conditions of wind, sunlight and lower moisture.
Remove grass from base of young trees and shrubs to prevent lawn mower and line trimmer damage. Mulch to conserve moisture, to keep cool in summer heat, to control weeds, maintain soil moisture and to give a neat appearance. Pine straw is ideal mulch.
Turn the compost pile as often as you can for a wonderful amendment to your garden soil!
Harvest asparagus until spear size decreases to the size of a pencil.
Herbs are a charming and helpful addition to the garden, both for their culinary uses and their fragrant, attractive presence. Check out Bonnie’s herbs at your local Co-op store!
Do not move houseplants outside until night temperatures remain over 60 degrees.
Remove winter dust from leaves of houseplants by gently rinsing with room temperature water.
Leach excess fertilizers from houseplants’ soil with water.
Propagate houseplants by cuttings or divisions.
Spring can be a crucial point in time for songbirds. They have just flown from who-knows-where during migration and now they have to lay claim to breeding territory, mate, build a nest and then care for their babies. Natural sources of food may not yet be available or easily accessible. Keep the feeder full!