Spring! Not Quite Sprung

Snowdrops are still blooming in many gardens. Usually they'd be finished by now.

Snowdrops are still blooming in many gardens. Usually they’d be finished by now.

April really has been the cruelest month this year. Our winter simply would not leave, like the dreadful last guest at a party. We’re about a month later than usual in the garden season: Early crocuses are a no-show, and the maple tree’s frothy green flowers—that welcome swath of green in April that’s spring’s true marker—haven’t yet made an appearance. But we can still dive in and get ready to garden. Here are things you can do to kick off your gardening season.

  • Start taking house plants outdoors. Philodendrons, pothos, dracena, sanseveria, succulents, etc. Make sure you place them in a shady spot for first few weeks. North side of a house is good. Direct sun outdoors will burn leaves if you make a sudden change from indoor gloom to intense outdoor rays.
  • Monitor night-time temperatures, and be ready to cover any house plants you’ve placed outdoors if weather goes below zero, (use a blanket or a duvet, topped with an old shower curtain) or  bring back inside overnight. Keeping plants in trays helps with this, until you can safely leave out with no chance of frost.
  • Take herbs outdoors, like rosemary you’ve overwintered, again, in the shade.
  • Loosen leaf mulch on garden beds, or remove entirely to let sun warm soil. You can add mulch back later on in season when things heat up again.
  • Turn on your outdoor tap and attach your garden hose.
  • Fertilize your houseplants, or geraniums you’ve overwintered. Use a half strength solution of organic liquid fertilizer, like kelp.
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