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David Daehnke
United States

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Gardening Tips for March and April



* When the weather warms up, you can set out plants of pansies as long as the ground and garden centers are ready. They will continuously bloom if the blossoms are kept picked.

* Fast growing vines, like scarlet runner bean, the hyacinth bean, passion flower, and to some extent clematis vines are great candidates to plant against ugly fences or walls.

* Annuals can be started in the house towards the middle of the month. Sweet peas can be planted directly into the ground when it is ready.

* The Winter coverings of perennials can be removed by the end of the month. It is best to do it on a cloudy day, and remember to recycle those branches!

* Give your lilacs a light coating of lime. They prefer an alkaline soil, which is not commonly found in this area.

* Hardy roses can be pruned as soon as you are sure that chances of an extreme freeze have past.

* Hardy chrysanthemums and other late-flowering perennials can be divided when the sprouts begin to show.

* As soon as planting conditions are right, sow the following vegetables outside where they are to grow: peas, parsnips, spinach, beets, carrots, lettuce, parsley, radishes and salsify. Potatoes may go in early also.

* As always, keep an eye out for insects, eggs or cocoons and destroy them before they get the upper hand.

* Prune shrubs in the month of March if they do not flower until Summer. Prune all Spring flowering shrubs after they have finished flowering.

* Any shrubs, hedges or trees that have suffered broken limbs due to snowfall or wind can be correctly pruned now.

* Rake your lawn to remove any debris that has accumulated on it over the Winter. For more tips on lawn care, visit Organic Lawn Care Manual .

* Begin your garden book now, for future reference on what plants, seeds and other jobs have been great and which have done poorly.

* A compost heap provides good organic matter for amending your soil. If you do not already have one, begin one this Spring.

* Bird houses can now be cleaned and disinfected for the new nesting season.



* When doing your Spring clean-up, keep a watchful eye out for resprouting perennials. Tread lightly!

* Scatter annual poppy seeds in the borders or wherever you want them to grow. Seeds of other annuals that can be planted directly can be done as soon as the danger of frost has past.

* Clematis paniculata may be cut down almost to the ground. It will make rapid growth and will flower again in the Fall.

* Lily pools should be drained and cleaned at this time of year before the lilies start to grow. Hardy water lilies can be purchased and set out now, while tender kinds should be moved out in late May or beginning of June.

* There is no better time to divide perennials than when they first start growing in Spring. Dig the entire clump up and use your hands to feel where the plant can or cannot be split. Use of a knife to assist in the splitting may be necessary on tougher, woodier perennials. When replanting the new clumps, make sure to add organic matter to the hole, which will give the new roots a healthy start.

* The pruning of roses should be completed as soon as possible, cutting back to live wood and cutting the stems even more if a smaller quantity but better quality of flowers is preferred. Comparatively light pruning will create a profusion of smaller blooms instead.

* Set out pansy plants as soon as the ground is ready. They will flower continuously if the old blossoms are kept picked.

* Perennials, roses and other shrubs can all use an application of a 5-10-5 organic fertilizer to give them a jumpstart for Spring.

* As soon as the weather is settled, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, and cauliflower can be planted in the garden.

* Defoliation of hawthorn trees is caused by a fungus which can be controlled by spraying now with a fungicide such as sulfur.

* Hydrangeas, buddleias, and other late flowering shrubs may be cut back to produce a new flush of growth. These plants flower on new wood and do not produce as well on older wood.

* Lilacs, as well as clematis, like a sweet soil, so an application of lime along with your application of 5-10-5 fertilizer can be made now.

* Early blooming shrubs can be pruned after they have ceased flowering.

* It is wiser to attack weeds as soon as they appear. They can be eradicated much easier now than when the have become established.

* Now is a good time to have your soil tested for pH and soil nutrient values. This will serve as a blueprint for your fertilizer and lime needs for the upcoming year.

If you have a particular question you would like the Gardening Guru to answer, e-mail me at, or check to see if your question has already been asked on the Question and Answer Message Board. Good Luck!


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