Weekend Chores

 Photo credit: Melanie McCabe, Homestead Gardens.

It isn't as difficult to get to work in the garden in April. The weather can be iffy, but it can also be warm and sunny. And the garden is starting to green-up and the perennials are emerging, so there is a reward waiting for you.

You know what you have left to do. But here are a couple of things you might not have thought about. Special thanks to the folks at Dayton Nurseries and to P. Allen Smith - the bulb trick at the end of this list is his idea, and it is a terrific one.

  • Apply aluminum sulphate as directed in to blue hydrangeas to ensure a sky blue color in summer. Repeating this application in mid to late May is advisable. For pink hydrangeas, aluminum sulphate will turn the flower color to dark purple.
  • An application of dormant oil as directed to all trees and shrubs will kill most insect eggs and scale insects waiting to hatch and come alive.  Spray only when plants are dormant and when temperatures will remain above freezing for a minimum of 24 hours after spraying.
  • April weather can be fickle. Resist the urge to plant warm season annuals and vegetables until the last frost date has passed in your area.
  • The best way to remove dandelions from your lawn, and the most earth-friendly, is to dig them out with a long forked tool. It’s important to dig out the dandelion’s taproot.
  • Why spend another summer fighting with your garden hose? Before the growing season gets underway invest in quality hoses that won’t kink, crack or misbehave.
  • Save a spot for fall bulb planting. Here is an easy way to hold a place for them in the border. Amid the spring plants, dig holes where you’ll want to later plant the bulbs. Make sure the holes are large enough to accommodate a good size plastic nursery pot that has drainage holes. Put the pots in the holes, and then refill the pots with the dug soil. In the fall, lift the pots, place the bulbs in the bottom of the holes and dump the soil over them.
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