6 now-or-never late-april tasks
THE WEATHER HAS BEEN GIVING ME FITS, but finally spring seems to have mostly taken hold. Translation: TOTAL PANIC UNDER WAY. Garden tours start May 31, not leaving much time to get things in shape. Some tasks cannot wait—they are now or never, really—all awaiting me right under the ominous “X marks the spot” in the photo I took this morning (above). At the risk of instilling panic in you, too, I share them here…but not before saying happy six-month anniversary to our beloved Thursday columnist, doodler Andre Jordan, who joined us in mid-October. Enough pleasantries; now back to Red-Alert Mode:
Asparagus-Planting Time: Asparagus tests even the most committed gardener, asking for a major feat of excavation followed by a lot of patience. Whatever kind you’re planting (hopefully an all-male strain like one of the Jersey types, which yield 20 to 30 percent more than dear old ‘Martha Washington’) you have to dig a trench about 18 inches wide and deep—no less than a foot in each direction, please. Here’s how.
Less-Than-Spectacular Daffodils? They need a diagnosis, now… and a remedy, even sooner. Too much Nitrogen, too little of other nutrients, overcrowding, not enough sun or moisture: These are just some of the factors that can cause Narcissus to make leaves but few flowers. Get the lowdown here (or for all your bulb worries, including this one, try the Bulb FAQ page).
Potatoes—Prep Now, Plant Soon: While prepping my vegetable garden last week, I unearthed several potatoes that eluded me last fall. Potatoes go in early, a week or two before the final frost, meaning mid- to late May for me. In cooperative years, when the soil is workable and no longer sodden and cold, I jump the gun and plant at the end of April. The method is here.
Let’s Twist Again (Ticks, That Is): It’s nearly impossible in tick-infested zones to avoid having one climb on you, but you can prevent embedding with a careful strip-and-search after each outdoor session (toss those clothes into the washer). If one does bite, get it completely out, with all its mouthparts, before it causes any health risk: I use a $3.95 tool I couldn’t live (safely) without. Time to set your anti-tick protocol in motion.
Calling All Caterpillars: Destructive tent caterpillars will show up any day now; they may already be coming alive in your garden, after overwintering as masses of several-hundred eggs. My non-toxic approach to knocking back the population on my favorite ornamental trees.
Make the Pruning Rounds: I try to do a little bit of pruning each day now, before things leaf out and make the job harder, targeting the most-needed candidates and lugging the organic fertilizer with me so I can give them each a feed when I’m done. I call my method Pruning Pared Way Down; anyone can follow it. There are a few suckers on the Magnolia (above) and the oldest apple (below) which are about to pop, come to think of it…
Take a moment from your chores to come say hello on Twitter, if you please, or post a comment to let me know what’s on your to-do list, and how your garden grows.