Green Space: Winter’s kaput -- Bring on the thunder-bumpers
Well, so much for winter. Of course, we still may have the odd blizzard, but soon spring thunderstorms (and tornadoes) will replace our terror of black ice.
I can tell it’s almost spring by my tweets and emails. Queries on ice dams and snow tires suddenly cease. We’ve switched gears into seed planting and force-blooming bushes.
I’ve assembled the five most commonly asked questions into a March gardening FAQ for those of you absolutely dying of impatience for impatiens.
1. Plant peas on St. Patty’s Day?
Yes, no, perhaps, who cares? Forget about the March 17 holiday. The weather determines when you plant seeds, not the calendar. Plant peas when the soil is cold (40-degrees) and moist. Too wet, too warm and they rot. Try tricking them this year. Keep in the fridge for three weeks prior to planting. Check your seed packs for advice on when to start other seeds inside.
2. A taste of spring
Did you know you can force bloom many flowering bushes? It’s simple.
Cut lengths of forsythia, pussy willow, flowering crab, etc., and soak 24 hours in water. Remove to a vase and water half way up. Keep in a cool, sun-free area until the blossoms swell, then transfer to a warm, sunny place. The blossoms should last for three weeks or longer.
3. Time for spring walk-around?
Your spring walk-around is your first labor day of the season. Wait for a sunny, warmish day, mud-free in your yard. Pick up all the sticks, stones, pet toys and winter litter. Check your bulb beds for heaving (bulbs popped out due to frozen soil).
Replant them gingerly, preserving roots, for a bloom this season. Rake mulch away from emerging green bulb shoots. They need sunlight.
4. That @*&%*# garage!
Don’t wait to clean and organize your garage. You’ll soon be too busy. Line up your yard gear on the drive and sharpen all blades, tighten all bolts, oil all joints. Put up a peg board and sort your hand tools on it. Recycle old paint cans and motor oil. Run your leaf blower on the floor.
Q-tip the lenses of the infrared detectors on your door opener (near the bottom of both side rails). Oil or grease the rail wheels.
5. The grass is greener
New grass loves this weather. Rake up dead-grass spots. Apply new-lawn fertilizer and then seed. Cover lightly with straw. In a few weeks, you’ll have the start of a nice, patchless yard. (Be sure to keep seeds wet if we suffer a dry period.) The best time to apply dry or spray broadleaf (dandelion) killer is when the plants begin to emerge. They absorb the killer with their leaves, not roots. Consider using an all-natural fertilizer this year to cut salt content in your turf.