2007-05-17 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

This is it! Hopefully we've seen the last of Jack Frost and you can start planting out. I wouldn't be in too much of a rush, we can still get an unexpected cold snap, but if you keep an eye on the weather, putting plants out now should be okay. If it looks like a frost, cover your crops with a blanket or spun fleece and you should be all right. Night time temperatures should start to climb over the next few weeks and you should be able to get everything growing nicely, but tomatoes and peppers will not set fruit until night time temperatures rise above about 50 degrees, so there's no rush to get them in the ground.

In The Vegetable Garden

Plant out onions, potatoes, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts) and leeks. Cover with spun fleece if they are likely to see a frost. Put compost on the vegetable beds and dig it in well. Where you plan to grow corn and cabbages, which are heavy feeders, dig in lots of well-rotted manure or compost.

In The Flower Garden

Deadhead daffodils and tulips. If you find that deer are deadheading your tulips for you, spray the tulips with Deer-Off. They don't smell quite as nice, but they last longer. Deer-Off is available at most hardware stores, including our very own Jamestown Hardware. Fertilize your daffodils and tulips with a good quality all-purpose fertilizer and let the leaves stand for at least six weeks. That gives the plant time to store energy to make flowers next year. If you find that your daffodils are not blooming, you didn't feed them enough last year. With the frost season over you should be able to set out other flowers. Many can survive a light frost. Geraniums for example, will stand a frost to about 25 degrees, but it leaves the plants looking ragged.

Water Garden

Make sure the water in your water garden is clean and that the filters are clean. If you have fish in the pond, put fishing line across the water to keep herons from turning your pond into their private sushi bar. Set pond lilies and other aqueous plants in pots weighted down with gravel or rocks.

Fruit Trees

Don't spray while blossoms are out. Not only will you damage the blossoms and weaken your crop but you'll kill off bees that pollinate the fruit. Wait until about 90-percent of the blossoms have dropped then spray with a dormant oil early in the morning before bees have warmed up enough to get busy. Put a ring of Tanglefoot around the trunk of your fruit trees to keep ants and caterpillars from climbing the trunk. This will help prevent aphids on new growth.

Soft Fruit

Make sure that a lot of sun can get into your soft fruit bushes to ensure that your crop ripens evenly. Weed around the bushes and if you haven't already done so, mulch with a few shovel loads of compost. Mulch around rhubarb and strawberries to keep the fruit of the ground and cover strawberries with netting to keep birds off.


Lawns are greening up nicely and need to get a little fertilizer. Make your first cut high and gradually lower the lawnmower blade to a suitable height. In summer when there is little rain cut the grass higher so that it keeps the ground moist and chokes out weeds.

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