As gardeners, we are fortunate at this time.
Everyone is being encouraged to stay at home and avoid shopping, sports or anything where we may come in contact with large numbers of other people. A lot of health experts are saying that spending time outdoors, away from others of course, is healthy as we are getting fresh air, exercise and increasing the vitamin D in our bodies through exposure to the sun.
It works out pretty good for us gardeners, since it is that time of year when we start getting out to turn the garden soils and start planting stuff we at least have something we can do.
With that in mind, maybe now is a good time to start working outdoors in the yard.
Start by walking around and making a list of everything that needs to be done. Be sure to include things you want to do but have not had time for in the past. With everything else pretty much closed, you will probably have some extra time on your hands. Also, make a list of everything you will need to get the garden and landscape going.
Address the list of things you will need early. It may be a good idea to call around to see who is open and who is closed before you set off to buy what you need. Contact your favorite stores first so you will have more confidence in what you are buying.
Next, start thinking about when you will do the items on the other list. Remember we still have the seasons to contend with and it may be a little early for some tasks and a little late for others. For example, since the flower petals are starting to fall from the forsythia shrubs, it is too late to make that first application of crabgrass preventer.
It is getting late for pruning roses and fruit trees as well, so put those tasks off if you can. I know the weather has been mild and many of us are tempted to start our summer flower and vegetable gardens, but Mother Nature has a way of making us regret our impatience.
The last frost date for this area is still considered to be around April 19, so it might pay to wait. Also, summer vegetables in particular need the soil to be warm, at least 50 degrees, in order for their early growth and later development to occur properly.
Although many people plant their gardens in early to mid-April and do just fine, others seem to have better growth if they wait until after May 1.
This is a good time to plant perennials. The winter has been mild, the soils are not frozen and the rains we have had have left the soils in good condition for planting.
Remember to dig the planting holes no deeper than the height of the root ball and at least twice as wide as the root ball. Circling root should be cut with a sharp knife — it’s OK, the plant will actually grow better if you do this. Unless you have really poor soil, amendments aren’t needed at planting. If what you have is mostly clay, then perhaps a couple handfuls of organic material such as compost may be helpful, but it is better to select perennial plants that will grow in the soil as it exists on the site.
A word about watering. Many plants come with instructions that say they need an inch of water every week. That inch of water can be from rain or a garden hose but not both.
When plants are first placed in the ground and the hole has been filled with soil, it is important to apply water liberally to settle the soil around the roots. After that, only water when and if necessary.
If it has been raining regularly, as has been the case for the past months, irrigation will not be needed if the rain is coming down at at least an inch a week.
Many gardeners have discovered that a good rain gauge is well worth the cost. If you don’t have one consider adding it to the list of things you need to buy.
Eventually, things will return to some type of normalcy and we will have distractions such as eating in restaurants or going to the movie theaters. Until then, just keep on gardening.
Enjoy your garden.
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