2009-04-23 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

Most gardeners are tempted to plant everything out already, but it's only the middle of April and we can still get a killing frost. Nighttime temperatures are staying just above or around freezing, so don't plant out yet.

I know, I know, most of the gardeners out there can't wait to get things planted. If you do, you risk losing it all and your plants aren't going to grow until the ground warms up anyway. So, cool your jets, and give it another week or two.

Here's what to do in the next week.


Make the first cutting of the grass. If you bag the cuttings, you can help to clean the winter residue of leaves off the lawn. If the lawn is untreated, put the grass clippings and leaves in the compost. Either lime or fertilize the lawn using a spring greenup fertilizer. If you get a lot of crab grass, you might want to use a pre-emergence fertilizer, but don't put the clippings in the compost.

Fruit trees

Apricots and some plums are coming into bloom. If they are not yet in bloom, hit them with an orchard insecticide. Secret Garden has a Neem-based pesticide. If they are in bloom, wait until after blossom drop to spray.

Vegetable gardens

You can plant peas and potatoes by now, as well as some salad greens such as arugula, bok choy, and pak choy, but hold off on anything else for another three weeks or so. Even though the forecast is for a nice warm weekend we can still get a killing frost.

Flower gardens

Lightly fertilize your daffodils with a general purpose fertilizer to encourage bulb growth next season. Mark where your flowers are located so that you won't dig them up when you plant annuals. Wait another two to three weeks before planting dahlia tubers. The ground is still cold and they could rot. Add compost over growing beds to help promote good growth during the summer. Check where you need to add mulch, but let the ground warm up a little more before applying a heavy layer of mulch. As ever, keep pulling those weeds.

Indoor plants

Start lightly fertilizing your indoor plants. When the weather has warmed up, bring your indoor plants outdoors into a shady area and knock the plants out of their pots to see if any are root bound. If so, they'll need repotting, so lay in some supplies while they are on sale. Let the repotted plants settle for a couple of weeks before putting them outdoors.

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