Garden Solutions - The Missourian: Feature Stories

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Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 6:00 pm

Breathe!

Notice the clean fresh air following a spring thunderstorm, or the fragrance of all the flowers in your landscape. Enjoy relaxing deep breaths after you have finished mowing your lawn.

The next time you feel the stress starting to build, just breathe. I’ll bet that it will make you feel better and you will continue it as a habit.

Now, pay attention to the birds singing early in the mornings and their increased activity, which leads way to courting, nesting and, soon to be, new fledglings. Therefore, I encourage you to continue feeding our feathered friends during this important time and enjoy the antics that lie ahead.

I would also like to remind you that these little birds do eat many insects, which is a great benefit for your yard and garden. You should already have your purple martin houses up and filled, and now it is time to hang up the hummingbird feeders.

You can make your own nectar using four parts water to one part sugar (1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water). You can start with slightly more sugar in the mix to attract the hummingbirds, and then go back to the four to one mixture once the hummingbirds are frequenting your feeders.

Boil together the mixture to dissolve the sugar, fill your feeders and enjoy. Change out the liquid frequently as hummingbirds are very fragile and our summer heat can quickly ferment the sugar mixture. Clean the feeder in between each filling.

The lengthening of daylight also seems to brighten people’s spirits and relieve some stress as we can now move outdoors and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. So, I invite you to go outside and “dig in.” Here are tips to help you get started:

• Remove winter mulch from your rose bushes. Trim out dead and diseased canes. Cut all other green wood to about 18 inches above the ground.

• When crabapples are in bloom, hardy annuals can be planted.

• Transplant trees, shrubs and perennials early in the month for best results. This includes moving plants you already have established in your yard that need to be moved to a new location.

• Spots and bare patches in the lawn can still be overseeded if you did not apply a crabgrass preventer. During spring there are more issues to be aware of when seeding a lawn rather than in the fall. Talk to a professional about seed choices and proper procedures.

• Liquid weed control should be applied early this month to control dandelions, henbit, and other broadleaf weeds. New grass in recently seeded areas must have grown enough to be mowed three times before it is strong enough to be treated with weed chemicals.

• Prune spring flowering shrubs after they finish blooming.

• Asparagus and rhubarb harvests begin. Keep your hoe sharp!

• Start cucumber, squash, cantaloupe and watermelon seeds indoors this month for late May/early June planting outside.

• Shrubs such as crepe myrtle, butterfly bush, and hardy hibiscus can be pruned back to green wood this month. Reminder — these plants leaf out very late (early May) and should not be considered dead, or be replaced until after Mother’s Day.

• Termites begin swarming. Termites can be distinguished from ants by their thick waists and straight antennae. Ants have slender waists and elbowed antennae.

• Apply fertilome systemic insect control this month to control borers in shade trees and shrubs.

• Remove old tree wraps from trees planted last fall so they do not create a place for insects to harbor.

• Mole young are born in chambers deep underground. Start trapping today!

• Protect bees and other pollinating insects. Do not spray insecticides on fruit trees that are in bloom. Bees are in danger and it is very important to be careful around them. In fact, check out nature friendly products readily available in garden centers when needing to do insect treatments.

• Water gardens may be cleaned out and the water changed. Do not scrub the walls since this will remove accumulated beneficial bacteria. Begin adding additional bacteria and barley bales now to begin the natural cycle of pond cleanup. Have questions, call a professional for assistance.

• The last week of April is a good time to try an early sowing of warm season crops such as green beans, sweet corn, etc. Transplants of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and sweet potatoes can also begin to be planted outdoors now.

• Container gardening is a good choice for flower and vegetable gardening if space is in short supply. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, check it out!!

• “Natural Gardening” is a wave of the future… keep your family safe and check out what organic/natural options are available to you when gardening this year. There are many.

Well, time is running short with much to do . . . see you in the garden

This monthly column is written by Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington.

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