Spring is Really Upon Us!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Charles County Master Gardeners

At long last we’re seeing some warm, sunny days.  The bulbs are starting to flower.  The deer have begun to mow my crocuses, though they always leave enough for me to enjoy too.  They don’t touch the daffodils, and I don’t even try to grow tulips (aka deer candy).  Now is the time to look around your garden and pay attention to where the bulbs are (so that you don’t accidentally dig them up later) and aren’t (so that you can plan to add more during the fall planting time).

It’s too early to plant tender annual plants.  Pansies will thrive now, however.  If you wisely planted some last fall and watched them sit around and look shabby all winter, this is when you get your reward.  They will take off and give you several months of flowers before the heat knocks them down in June.  However, it’s not too late to plant them now.  They’ll still give you some early-season flowers before they fade.

Get out and weed!  The early spring weeds are up and flowering.  Yank them out before they have time to scatter their seeds.  I have a phenomenal crop of bitter cress this year, and the speedwell is not far behind.  My fingers are crossed that I may have gotten ahead of the chickweed and henbit last year because they aren’t so strong – yet.  But no time sit back and relax.  If even a few plants are allowed to spread their seeds the plants will be all over the place next year.

Even though the spring months bring out all sorts of planting urges, this is not the time to renovate your lawn.  Our grasses should be planted in the autumn so that they can be well established before the heat and humidity arrive.  Similarly, this isn’t the time to throw a lot of fertilizer at your lawn.  One light dressing (equivalent to one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet) in April will help.  More than that will simply fertilize the algae in our waterways.

Here is what you can do, however:  If you have crabgrass problems, apply pre-emergence crabgrass killer right now, before the seeds germinate.  After you’ve done that, don’t disturb the soil surface; allow the herbicide to form a protective layer.  And don’t plant grass seed.  The crabgrass preventive stops everything from germinating – including your expensive grass seed.

It’s fine to start exploring the nurseries and garden centers now, but fresh stock probably won’t be in for another couple of weeks.  From now until November it’s an endless round in our gardens.  Enjoy it!