2007-05-03 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

A variety of vegetables growing in Roger Marshall's cool greenhouse.  A variety of vegetables growing in Roger Marshall's cool greenhouse. Last weekend was a great planting time. It was overcast, with a few rain showers, just the right weather that doesn't stress plants and makes it easy for them to start growing. I planted out onion sets and put them under spun fleece, started pumpkins and squash plants, plated out the outdoor peas and a lot more.

I also checked the cool greenhouse where the peas are already eighteen inches high, the artichokes have tiny buds on them and strawberries are blooming strongly. By growing in the greenhouse and later outdoors, I can get two crops early in the season and still have time to put in squash and other heavy feeding vegetables later, all of which are grown organically.

If you haven't already done it, clean away the debris from last year. Put it in the compost pile. Daffodils should be in bloom along with other spring blooms such as hyacinth, Siberian squill, narcissus, and even tulips should be showing buds. It won't hurt to give each of these bulbs a shot of fertilizer or compost tea right now and once weekly for the next few weeks. That will help to give you better blooms next season. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, mark where your bulbs are so that you fill in empty spots or divide clumps of daffodils. You can also start planting out dahlia tubers, gladioli corms and other tender flowers now. By the time they come up, the frost season will be over.

If you want to make your own compost tea, simply take an old onion or orange bag, fill it with compost and leave it in your rain barrel for a few days. The resulting brew will help improve your plants. You can use the same brew for vegetables, too. You can make a manure tea by immersing a sack of manure in your rain barrel. If you use commercial fertilizers, you can add some fertilizer to your water when you water your plants to get them going faster.

You should have all your spring pruning done by now and have sprayed the trees with dormant oil. You should probably give them a second spray with Bordeaux mixture right around now before bud break to help keep fungi at bay.

Top dress your blackcurrants, redcurrants, rhubarb, gooseberries, blueberries and other soft fruits with a few shovelfuls of compost. Just spread it around the stem of the plant without allowing it to touch the main stem. The idea is to allow the nutrients to be washed into the soil around the plant.

Rake off the dead thatch from last year and feed your lawn with fertilizer to help it green up fast. You can use a compost tea or a commercial fertilizer mixture. Or you can go to Gardens Alive (www. gardensalive.com) and get their organic fertilizer. Apply the mixture just before a light rain is forecast to ensure that it gets washed into the soil and doesn't run off.

Your indoor plants will be showing signs of new growth about now, but don't put them outside yet. If you do, they will dislike the cold and could go back into dormancy, plus a late frost could kill them. Buy new pots and potting soil to transplant them in a month or so when the initial gardening rush has died down a little. All you need do now is to start feeding your indoor plants with a weak solution of fertilizer to help their initial growth spurt.

Plant out onions, potatoes and peas right now. I planted mine last weekend, but covered them with spun fleece to help keep them a little bit warmer overnight. Sow spinach and Chinese greens to get them going early. In a week or two you'll be able to plant out cabbage and the other brassicas, but it's still a little early for them right now. Top dress asparagus with compost tea or fertilizer to help bring it along. I like to put mulch or compost on the asparagus bed right around now to help get nutrients down to the plant roots.

Return to top