It’s Finally Time to Think Spring – guest blogger Annette Presseau

Spring Fever – Smell that Fresh Air!


Yard clean up time.  This is the time of year that I take a overview of my whole garden and see what needs to be cleaned up.  It’s surprising how much stuff gets into garden beds over the winter months even though they were cleaned up before the winter.  Now is a great time to get out in the yard and start clearing out whatever has accumulated.  Be careful not to pull out your plants that are starting to show up and surprisingly some things won’t be where you left them last fall and you might even see some new things sprouting up!  Once the beds are cleared up that add some all natural fertilizer and a layer of compost but wait to apply mulch until the soil warms up.  Prepare new beds by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper then put mulch on top.

My flower garden

Cool season annuals like pansies and violas can be potted up for spring color. I like to put a pot on my front steps which adds quite a bit of color during these spring days and is very pleasant to see as you approach my house.  As for your bulbs when the green shoots start to show up you need to feed them with an organic fertilizer.

Prune roses just as buds begin to push, removing dead, damaged and diseased canes and open up the plants to allow light and air and feed. You can plant new roses, especially those that have come bare-root.

Clematis pruning confuses many gardeners, but it’s not as complicated as you think so don’t worry it’s very hard to kill one by pruning it or neglecting it. That said, they will all benefit from regular care, and pruning should be a part of it.  Need more information than check out this website on how to prune:

I just love Hydrangeas they are just so colorful and look great as cut flowers.  The way to prune your Hydrangea plant is to cut back hard once you see the very first signs of life.

I love the smell of lilacs in the Spring so for Lilacs wait until after they bloom to prune them.  It’s too bad that the smell doesn’t last longer!

Straw Bale GardeningI know that you are saying “what?” Yes you can create a raised garden bed using straw bales.  It is a great option for gardeners who have poor soil or not a lot of room for a garden.  Straw Bales hold water, don’t need to be weeded and as the bales decompose they provide nutrients to the plants inside.  Check out this blog on straw bale gardening:  I would love to try this in my back yard this year maybe the wild turkeys will leave alone my flowers!

Landscape DesignAre you looking at your yard and thinking about changing it all up or just want to be more energy efficient?  Here in New England we always look for ways to be energy efficient because of our climate.  I found this book recently called Energy-Wise Landscape Design; A New Approach for your Home and Garden by Sue Reed.  Sue Reed in her book talks about how the surrounding landscaping can directly influence the energy efficiency around the home.  The book is an easy read and worthwhile to read.

Blub Planting.  Did you know that this is the perfect time of year to plant certain types of bulbs like dahlias, lilies and gladiolas?  Well, these flowering bulbs actually do well during this month, so make sure that you mix a few organic ingredients or some compost into the soil where these are planted (combine bulb fertilizer, as well as aged manure and peat moss). This certainly helps nourish both the soil and flowers.

Apart from flowering bulbs, you can also start planting annual seeds. You can plant asters, cosmos, marigolds, and even zinnias for starters. Now, other than annuals, if you have perennials, have these divided. These can be moved into a different area of your patch, or extras can be given out to your gardener friends..

What to do with houseplants?  Your houseplants can do well with a little bit of spring-cleaning in the month of April. And one of the best gardening tips for this would be to remove irregularities such as yellowing leaves, withered flowers, or even dead branches. Plants may also be able to breathe better when the dust from the leaves are removed using a light spraying. Pinching is also advisable especially for plants, as this helps invigorate new growth and volume.

Growing from seeds.  A few years ago I tried to grow flowers from seed and used a soilless mix instead of regular soil and had great success with it.  There are many kinds of soiless mix’s containing a vast assortment of ingredients but most contain things like Spaghnam moss, Perlite and Vermiculite.  Most soilless mixes retain water well and have great wicking action while still holding a good amount of air, making them a good growing medium.  You can also save money but growing from seeds.  If you have never grown from seeds give it a try it’s really fun to watch them grow and a great project for your kids!

Water Conservation.  Just this month signs have gone up all over town to conserve water so when planning your garden consider water conservation.  Use organic mulch in your garden this year so that you can improve the soil, reduce moisture loss but remember when you’re putting mulch around the plant keep mulch away from the plant trunk.  Make sure you water your garden infrequently and use rain water to quench the thirst of your flowers.  Water your garden during the coolest part of the day to reduce evaporation.  Use a trigger nozzle or a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.  When picking out plants choose native plants because these survivors have adapted to their environment and need less water and water only when necessary and only when the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil is dry.  Did you know that more plants die from over watering than under watering?

Vertical Kitchen Herb Garden.  I was searching as I usually do for garden information when I came across this beautiful Kitchen Herb Garden at DIY Projects (see website below) and if you are very handy you can make one yourself and you can even have a few plants outside on your deck with a few herbs in them so that you can go out from your kitchen and pick some fresh herbs – what a great idea!  It is a great space saver.

I just love the weather at this time of year and I enjoy getting outside and seeing what is coming up in the garden and I also enjoy sitting on my deck and watching the birds fly by.  The only thing that I don’t enjoy is the wild turkeys that have decided to be in my yard and who enjoy eating some of my flowers!  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to share my bounty with the birds too!

Happy gardening everyone!

Annette Presseau    Billerica Garden Club

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