2006-05-25 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

With all the rain we've had, everything will be

sprouting like mad. Plants will need setting out, weeds need to be hoed out of existence, fast growing vines need to be pruned back, and vegetables need to be set out and fertilized. There's a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, so we have to get to it.

In the vegetable garden

Start corn and beans if you haven't already done so. Cover the seeds with spun fleece, sometimes called Reemay, to stop mice from eating them. If you have garlic, onions, or leeks in the ground they will need fertilizing with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to get large bulbs. You can use a lawn fertilizer, but make sure it does not contain a weed killer. Similarly, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, brassicas, can use a feeding with the same fertilizer.

Pick all the asparagus you want right now, In a few weeks, you should taper off the picking and let the ferns form.

Mulch potatoes or start to hill them up to get lots of taters in a few weeks. There's nothing quite like new potatoes with butter and chopped mint. Make sure that your peas are trellised or staked with peas sticks. Put trellises out for beans. Plant tomatoes and peppers but protect them from wind and heavy rains with a glass cloche.

Shrubs, bushes and vines

Wait for the new growth on your evergreens to turn darker green before pruning them. If you are growing clematis or any other flowering vines, make sure that they are fastened to a trellis or you will have a mess of vines on the ground that might be impossible to untangle. In a week or two, you will need to trim privet, so make sure that your shears are sharpened and oiled.

Fruit trees

As soon as blossoms have dropped and there are a few dry days, spray fruit trees with a fungicide and an insecticide to stop apple maggot flies from ruining your fruit. Plums and apricots have already finished blossoming. The apples are in the mid to late blossom time, and the peaches are just coming, so you may need to stagger spraying times for each species. Try to spray early in the morning, when bees are not around.

Lawns

Cut and fertilize. You'll probably need to cut your lawn every five days or so to keep it looking nice, and in a week or two, you should apply fertilizer to give the lawn a boost before the dog days of summer come upon us. Make sure that edges are trimmed and that your lawn is well aerated.

Flower gardens

Early flowers have pretty much died back, and most of us are waiting for new growth to come into flower. You can fool Mother Nature a little and plant some annuals to get some color into the border or simply wait for flowers to arrive. Remember to stake or support any flower plants that will grow tall or they blow over in the first wind. Keep on top of those pesky weeds and replace mulch that may have rotted down or blown away over the winter.

Indoor plants

You can move indoor plants outside if you wish, but do not put them in direct sunlight. Indoor plant leaves have become acclimated to the low light levels in your house and putting them in direct sunlight may cause the leaves to shrivel and drop or turn brown. Put the plants in a shaded area for a few weeks before gradually moving them into stronger sunlight. When moving them outdoors, give them a little fertilizer to help them get over the shock. When you set your indoor plants out, upend the pot and check to see if the plants are pot-bound. If the roots run around the bottom of the pot, you'll need to trim and tease those roots out so that they are straighter and put your plant in a larger pot.

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