After the wettest March on record and a very cold and soggy April it is time to get caught up in the garden.
Veggies: I prepped my beds a month ago with lots of compost and organic fertilizer, but nothing got planted. In the next two weeks I will be planting my spuds, onions, beets, carrots, peas and broccoli. There is nothing quite as divine as fresh-grown produce, so sweet that even kids will enjoy it. Whether you have room for a small raised bed or a 10- by 20-foot plot plant some veggies. Lawns: There are two camps on lawns. One despises them as a waste of resources and a depository for nasty chemicals and the other a space to create the perfect, unblemished sea of emerald green. A happy medium is a soft-green carpet without the intensive input of time and materials. I will be sharpening my lawnmower blade, raising the height to 2 inches, plucking out or spot spraying a few weeds, and applying an organic fertilizer, after which I should only have to mow and water weekly for the next several months. Pruning: I am never without my pruners when I am in the garden, for there is always something to snip, clip or even hack back vigorously. This is the month to deadhead rhodies, cut back the spring bloomers like forsythia, remove the spent flowers from daffodils and hellebores, take out the inside
weaker branches from the shrubs and trees, and generally tidy and shape all the plants in the yard.
Flowers: It is always a good time to plant flowers, whether they are perennials or annuals, and it is one of the best investments we can make toward
maintaining a healthy mental state. Like veggies, we have cool season flowers and warm season flowers, but by the time we get to May you can find them all mixed together at the garden center. Also, like veggies, flowers appreciate good growing conditions – which means adding compost and organic fertilizer helping you get bigger and brighter blooms, just like you will get bigger and tastier veggies. If you do most of your flowers in containers, replace
all of the soil if the pots are small or just remove 6 to 8 inches and work in some fresh soil if they are large. I like to blend in some organic flower food so it is already down next to the roots and then follow up with a weekly application of a soluble feed that dissolves in water that I can pour over the top of the soil. Like all things in gardening, whether it is mowing, watering, or feeding, consistency is what makes it all work. You can’t go nuts one weekend a month and then let everything slide for the next 30 days. If it helps, think of your plants as pets that need to be fed and watered daily. They are living creatures and will thrive when we pay attention to them or conversely, fail to thrive if we ignore them. A healthy pet or garden both require the same kinds of awareness on the part of their owners. Take this month to love and care for your garden, and you will be richly rewarded all summer long.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org