Inspect, replace parts on sprayers
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Mar 20, 2013 | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Finally, spring is here and all gardeners are just waiting for a warm day to get at planting. Those plants, which we mentioned in last week’s column, can go into the ground just any day. All others will have to wait a while before planting. My tree peony is putting out leaves and is just about ready to put out flower buds. It is my early spring pride and joy. It is now several years old and gets bigger and prettier each year.

While you have time, get out those sprayers and check them over. Some may need to have some parts replaced and now is the time. It is a very good idea to have one sprayer marked with big black letters, “Fertilizer” and another marked with a poison sign and marked in red, “For weed and grass killer only”. It is a terrible catastrophe to get the two mixed up.

Another early spring job is to sharpen all tools, including shovels, all scissors and hoes. You should also get the blades off your mower and take them to have it done by someone with the right tools.

If you are a caladium fancier, now is the time to start them inside. It takes the bulbs too long to mature if planted after the soil warms. If you have saved your own bulbs from last year or if you buy new ones, put them in a pot of dirt and set it in a sunny window until the leaves appear before setting them in the ground outside. It is safe to plant them outside about the second week in May.

If you mow your lawn in early spring, set your mower to 2 or 2 ½ inches. Mowing too close can encourage disease and insects plus it can throw the root system into shock. Remember that as soon as weeds come up in the lawn, you can start a weed and feed program. I always used a liquid weed killer in a sprayer. It is your preference.

Take a look at your crape myrtles and cut off any leftover dead flowers from last year. Cut only the dead flower branches.

DO NOT put your indoor plants outside until the outside temperature is consistently at or above 60 degrees. It’s a good idea to move them gradually by putting them on an unheated sun porch first for a couple of weeks and then move them outside.

There are so many new, or improved, perennials that you have to see them to believe. There is a new perennial geranium that comes in several jewel bright colors. That is a great addition to a perennial bed because they are in bloom throughout the whole summer. The big news, to me, is the new irises. You have to see a picture of the colors and shapes to believe them. Another old favorite that has new, improved varieties is the crape myrtle. As you know, crape myrtles come in three sizes and the new sizes and colors are spectacular. I think that the biggest news is the dwarf magnolias. Of course, I have only seen pictures but our local hardware/nursery will have them in stock. Imagine a small magnolia. Many lawns don’t have room for the beautiful magnolia so this small version will please those of us who admire the magnolia.

When I see pictures of the newest shrubs and perennial, I think of my dear old Ma who would have been so thrilled to be able to have such plants. I am sure she had never visited a nursery nor would she have had money in later years to spend on them. But she would have loved just to see them. When she was an old lady and visited me, she would walk in my flowers and admired the many colors of roses and she especially liked the tall garden phlox, which she had never seen.

She and I were so excited to see my start of a mountain laurel. I am sorry to admit that I “removed it from its home in the Smokey Mountains” and replanted it in my garden. The soil should have been right for it. I even added leaf mold to simulate its habitat. The problem was that I neglected to let my little son in on my theft and he, thinking it was just an old piece of a log, threw it away and the garbage truck hauled off my “great experiment”. I had sneaked it home in the dirty clothes bag so that it was also a surprise to my husband. I got a very stern lecture and a dire warning on our next vacation to the Smokies. I often think that gardeners will do most anything to obtain a desired plant.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions or just to chat. My address for ordering my book is Ronella Stagner, 137 Main Street, Cadiz, KY 42211.
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