Cooper-Young Garden Club
“Spring Has Sprung” “Spring Has Sprung” “Spring Has Sprung”
The following are “Garden-To-Does” for April as compiled for the benefit of readers who are enthusiasts and not afraid to get their fingernails dirty in the garden.
- Pull weeds before applying a fresh layer of mulch on landscape beds
- Water-in all transplants. Planting on a cloudy day will minimize the shock to new plants
- Pinch off the first set of flowers on annuals to encourage better rooting and bloom later in the season, particularly during hot weather.
- Avoid pushing emerging seedlings with fertilizer until they show at least three true leaves
- Summer bulbs can be planted out now including gladiolus, dahlias, caladiums, crocosmia, and tuberous begonias
- Perennials can still be divided if there is not extensive new leaf development. Consider dividing yarrow, chrysanthemums, hostas, phlox, daisies, and daylilies. Keep the new plants well watered for a few weeks.
- Do not plant out tender annuals before “Tax Day” (April 15th) unless you are prepared to protect them from any late frost.
- Tall growing perennials should be staked early in the season with young stems tied loosely to firmly set and sturdy (bamboo) stakes. Stakes will be visible for a short time but will be hidden as the plants grow.
- Warm season annuals such as cosmos, gomphrena, marigolds, zinnias, and others can be planted beginning two to three weeks after the last frost date (Memphis = around the last week of March).
- Watch for aphids on annuals that have just been transplanted into the garden. Aphids love tender new grown but can easily be washed away with a gentle spray from the garden hose.
- Do not remove leaves from spring blooming bulbs (or tie them in knots) until they have turned brown; however, it’s best to deadhead daffodils and tulips to avoid them wasting energy on seeds you do not want.
- Consider treating tulips as annuals and pull up after blooming.
- Organic mulch is the best tool for maintaining soil moisture and reducing weeds
Mulch should be 2 to 3 inches deep, including the old layer. More than that can be detrimental to plant growth and a waste of money. Chopped leaves from last fall are ideal.
- Do not prune spring-blooming shrubs until after they have finished blooming.
- If you move house plants outdoors in the summer, wait until the night-time temperatures are above 50 degrees and transition for a few days in the shade
Consider growing some herbs this summer. It is so handy to have fresh rosemary, parsley, dill, mint, and chives right outside your door. They are easy to grow. Here are a few points:
- Try to locate them where they will get 6 hours of sunlight
- Well-drained soil is critical for most herbs
- When starting with clay soil, amend well with leaf mold, pine bark, soil conditioner or small gravel to improve drainage.
- Herbs do not require their own unique bed. Plant them in amongst landscape plantings, flower beds, and, of course, vegetable gardens.
- Many herbs are great container plants as well
- After April 1st it is too late to do any seeding as there is insufficient time for the new grass to get sufficiently established before the higher summer temperatures bear down on us.
- Mow frequently enough to remove no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.
- Mow cool season grasses 2 ½ to 3 inches high
- Do not fertilize fescue and bluegrass lawns because nitrogen in the lawn soil that still is not used up by May is an invitation for brown patch fungus disease.
- Water all new lawns frequently
- Towards the end of the month, it is time to plant warm season crops.
Direct seed zucchini, summer squash, green beans, eggplant, peppers, and sweet corn.
- To “harden off” warm season transplants:
- Begin a week or two before planting out,
- Set seedling trays outside during the day in a protected area and water as needed.
- Soil temperature should be above 55 degrees before planting (likely the end of April) otherwise the seedlings will just sit there and take longer for major growth to get started.
- Tomatoes – when planting transplants
- Remove all the foliage except the top leaves
- Dig a hole deep enough (or in a trench) so you can plant right up to the leaves.
- Cover the stems up to the top leaves with soil. The buried stems will produce roots all along its length
- No room for a vegetable garden?? That does not necessarily mean you cannot grow a few fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.
- Tuck some vegetables plants into a sunny flower bed or under-used border.
- Consider ornamental looking Swiss chard, kale, onions, cardoon, basil, fennel and other herbs for sunny flower beds,
- Grow cucumbers on a trellis as well as non-tree fruits: blueberries, strawberries, currants, –
- Consider growing some vegetables in containers. This is often a good option if the only sunny space you have is the deck or patio.
- Turnover the compost pile. With warmer weather, the microorganisms will kick into high gear.
- Insects are essential for pollinating many crops. Honeybees and other pollinators are very vulnerable to insecticides. Avoid the use of Sevin dust (carbaryl) as it is especially toxic to bees.
- Clean and fill hummingbird feeders. The first hummingbirds arrive in TN around April 1st.
Visit A Local Garden
There are local gardens open to the public wherein you can see the spring flourishes and gather ideas for your own garden’s transformation. Here are a few to consider:
- Memphis Botanical Gardens, 750 Cherry Road, Memphis 38117 901-636-4100, [email protected], Hours: 9 am – 6 pm. Entrance fees: $10 Adults, 8$ Seniors (62+), $5 Children
- Dixon Gardens, 4339 Park Avenue, Memphis 38117, 901-761-5250, Hours: Tues-Sat 10am – 5 pm, Sun 1pm – 5pm, Entrance fees $7 Adults, $5 Seniors, $3 Children