Thursday, April 07, 2005

Garden Blogging: Spring Tasks in the Yard

We've had wonderful weather here the last few days and the yard is starting to explode with fresh growth. My New Dawn rose went from budding to a fair amount of leaves in one day. (This isn't a photo of mine, but a nice example of New Dawn all the same. I'll be sure to post a photo of mine after it's reached its glory stage.) The lilacs are showing quite a lot of green and should "bust out" in just a few days. I've been busy outside in short bursts and have gotten a few big tasks done already:
  • Corn Gluten Meal (CGM) applied to the lawn and flower/vegetable beds. CGM is a wonderful, cheap organic product for use as a pre-emergent (prevents grabgrass and the such from sprouting). CGM's high protein content also does a killer job of waking up and feeding the microbial critters in the soil. Said critters do a terrific job of breaking down the mulched clippings from lawn mowings. They also help chew up the nasty clay soil so prevalent here in our area. The leaf compost I've put down on the lawn the last few years gives the microbes an extra slug of organic material to till into the soil. Check out GardenWeb's Lawn Forum and search their FAQ for more information on CGM. (CGM's really cheap here in south-central Ohio.)
  • Winter rye turned into the vegetable beds. I seed our vegetable beds each fall with a healthy dose of winter rye. The rye grows like crazy, even through tough winters, and makes terrific green manure when it's tilled into the soil. The rye combined with the decaying pea and bean plants put plenty of great stuff back into the soil.
  • Rehung the roses on my southern trellis. I've got two Climbing Iceberg plants, one Maggie, and two Rise 'n Shine plants set in front of a home-made trellis on the southern side of the house. The Climbing Icebergs are more aggressive than I expected, so they require some re-routing and re-stringing of the canes during the early spring when I can easily get to the larger canes. (BTW, I would not recommend Rise 'N' Shine to anyone in a region where black spot is an issue. These little buggers may get shovel pruned in the near future.)
  • Got the lawn grass out of my wildflower bed. I put in a semi-large raised wildflower bed a couple years ago. Lawn grass was encroaching into the bed. My daughter and I spent a few hours last week pulling grass out -- we caught it after a rain and the work went fairly easily.
Still in the works:
  • Mow the d@mned lawn. The evil season has started.
  • Get the roses sprayed with Cornel Rose Spray. This terrific formula is a wonderful organic salve for black spot, plus the roses love the seaweed extract. Last year most of my roses exploded in growth after I started using this.
  • Get the pear and apple trees sprayed with dormant oil. I had nasty problems with scales in the pears last year. Dormant oil should help minimize that. Last year was frustrating because I'd solved many problems from earlier years (fire blight, hideous pruning by previous owners, etc.) and we had a bumper crop of pears. Unfortunately, the bumper crop was badly infested with scales, making for lots of work cutting around the bad parts of the pears. Boy, did we cherish the pear jam my wife made -- all that hard work made the jam taste that much better!
  • Get several bushes chopped out and several others transplanted. We've been gradually redoing landscaping. Last year's work was pulling out several bushes and planting some new region-appropriate lavender bushes. This year it's asters and sweetpeas, plus moving some grasses and bushes around.
  • Make a new raised bed for my Baronne Provost rose. This poor rose got planted during my first year with roses (only three years ago!) and it's in a bad spot. I need to get it out of the wind-blocked, semi-shady back corner into a nice spot in the lawn. I've got a nice spot planned out, but need to cut up the grass sod, dig a pit and amend the #%*&@!! clay soil here, plus add in a fair amount of additional dirt to raise up the bed and keep the rose's feet (roots) out of the wet as much as possible.
  • Finish cleaning up fall's mess from the various beds. Lots of leftover dead annuals need to get chopped up and added to the compost heap.
Somewhere along in there I need to keep studying for my cert tests and keep shaking the trees for building up a local .NET developers group. (Keeping my kids laughing and my wife happy is stuck in there, too.)

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