The Island Garden
many green vegetables have been growing all winter long. Now that the weather is warming up, many of these vegetables are going to seed, and there is a healthy crop of chickweed - the result of a bad pile of compost that failed to heat up and kill the seeds of the weed.
It's not difficult to grow vegetables during the winter. All you need are the right vegetables and a greenhouse. Even in sub-freezing temperatures, I was able to harvest parsley, spinach, Chinese greens, white turnips, cabbage, daikon radishes, kale, and chard during the coldest months.
Of course, this winter was mild, but I am confident that even with a deep-freeze winter it will not be much more difficult to keep greens going. Anyway, enough of that. What needs to be done this week?
According to the weather forecast, the weekend should be quite warm, so if you haven't done it yet, you should prune your fruit trees and spray them with dormant oil as part of your integrated pest management program. Dormant oil smothers insects that live in the crevices of fruit trees. Follow that treatment by spraying the trees with a fungicide just before budbreak. You'll also need to spray with dormant oil right after blossom drop, but that's in a few weeks. If you grow raspberries, make sure the stalks from last year are pruned out and the plants are cut back to about 3 feet.
When pruning trees and shrubs, dip your pruner blades into a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of bleach in it to avoid transferring bacteria from one tree to another.
If you missed last week's column, start your tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers now, and next week, start leeks, onions, and plants that take up to 100 days to grow to full size. If you don't have your seeds yet, Jamestown Hardware has a rack of them in the front of the store. Flower seeds can be started now, too.
At this time, most lawns are not even beginning to green up, so pick a dry day and rake over your lawn to remove the dead grass from last year. It's a chore, but raking off the dead grass allows you to find dead areas or areas where bugs have eaten the grass roots. Raking also makes it easier for the new grass to grow and gets rid of leaves and other debris that may blunt your mower blades.
If you find a patch of grass where the roots have been eaten away, you'll need to treat the ground and reseed. The best organic method of getting rid of bugs is to sprinkle Milky Spore over your lawn when the temperature has warmed up. Milky spore grubs infect lawn bugs and when the bugs die off the milky spore bugs spread. One dose will last for ten to fifteen years.
Check where your daffodils have made large clumps and mark them with a stick. When the daffodils have died back, you will be able to find the clumps, dig them out, and replant bulbs to fill in bare spots. Some of my daffodils are 20 years old and still going strong. You might also want to mark the areas where there are no daffodils so that you have a place to put your extra bulbs.
Note: last week, this column said that May 1 was the time of the last frost. I find that May 15 is a better guide. Putting plants out early without protection could get them killed by a mid-May frost.