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.
Spring? What Spring? It’s the first day of spring, but you’d never know it. Normally we’d be seeing these little beauties popping up in our gardens, but with the freezing weather we’ve been enduring, our spring bulbs—like the snowdrops—have so far been no shows. Most gardeners, me included, are ready to tear their hair out with the long wait this year for some decent weather and signs of life. I’d even like a rainy day at this point. A warm one, preferably.
But there are signs that spring approaches, even if it’s not exactly on time: the snow is melting, the days are getting longer, and in the meantime, there are activities that can give us a little taste of spring. Visit Canada’s Garden Show, Canada Blooms, (which is on for three more days), for instance. Start some seeds, peruse a few catalogues. It won’t be long now. I’ll be checking every day to see my first snowdrop.
Sometimes gardeners get a little overzealous in the plant-buying area. I confess I do this pretty much every season. It’s the eyes bigger than garden syndrome. The result is, I’ve got a small pile of perennials in pots that I simply haven’t had time to add to the garden. I’m not even sure exactly where I want to plant them. What to do, now that winter is hot in pursuit? Plants are unlikely to survive in pots over winter, so something must be done to preserve them for planting properly in the spring.
The easiest thing to do is to plunge the plants, pots and all into some kind of winter holding area. If you have a vegetable garden, that is the perfect place for this. Dig a hole deep enough to place the pot right in the ground, matching the soil level. You don’t have to worry about spacing, as this is only a temporary stopgap. Cover with mulch after the ground has frozen, some time in December. In the spring, dig whole pot up and plant into a permanent location.
Name me a vegetable that grows like a weed, and is so good and versatile you can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner; serve it with yogurt and ice cream, cook it with pork, and even make a cocktail out of it.
Although rhubarb grows throughout the spring, summer and fall it is most often associated with late spring. The appearance of rhubarb in our fields, gardens, and on our supermarket shelves sends many of us into the kitchen with an armful of the bright red and green stalks, ready to roast, stew and candy turning them into cakes, pastries, sauces, jams, fools and even cocktails. Continue »
Geranium Macrorrhizum, Bevan’s Variety, a stalwart perennial groundcover, blooms in early spring and summer.
Are you the kind of busy person who might not go so far as pouring concrete on your front yard, but you want something almost as low-maintenance? I urge anyone with self-described “black thumbs” not go the concrete route, because help is at hand in the form of spreading ground covers. They can take the place of grass on your front yard and require almost nothing from you. The thick growth of the two ground cover plants listed below will shade out weed seeds, making weed growth minimal to none.