Little bits of this and that in the garden
Gardening tasks in April are highly dependent on soil and weather conditions. The best approach is close monitoring. By watching potential work sites, you’ll be ready to seize an opportunity when time and conditions permit.
• If you have good compost, spread an inch on vegetable beds before you till or spade.
• Plant new trees and shrubs.
• If you wrapped trunks of tender trees last fall, remove the wrap now.
• If you use lawn chemicals, now is the time to apply fertilizer and crabgrass preventer. ISU recommends application no later than April 27 this year.
• Plant seedlings of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
• Sow small amounts of radish, spinach, and lettuce seeds every two weeks.
• Provide an acid source (such as garden sulfur or peat) around hollies, rhododendrons, and azaleas.
• Remove mulch from strawberries when 25 percent of the plants show new growth.
• Divide perennials that have a dead spot in the middle or seem crowded. Dig up the entire plant and use a spading fork or knife to break the roots into separate clumps. Replant as desired. (This is an ideal opportunity for plant exchanges with gardening friends.)
• Prune roses when buds are beginning to swell. Given our tough winter, there is likely to be a lot of winterkill on the upper parts of plants. Live parts will be green; dead canes will be brown. Try to get out all the dead material. Use good sharp pruners to prevent crushing.
• If you are digging out dandelions, get the top two inches of taproot to be sure that the plant is killed. Herbicides for control of dandelions should be applied in the fall, not the spring.
• Keep your eyes open for spring blooms in your own gardens and around the community. They offer color and beauty that we all need after the long winter.
• If you have access to woodlands, watch for the emergence of wildflowers, which are popping this week after some rain. Their delicate beauty is a gift to Iowans – receive it!