Friday, August 14, 2020
Aug. 14, 2020

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Gardening with Allen: Improve landscape, garden while stuck home

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I am stuck at home. I have never been much of a gardener. What gardening tasks could I do right now to keep myself busy?

Spring weather gives us the urge to get outside and be active. While the coronavirus limits our activities in areas where we might come in contact with others, gardening and landscape improvement are good activities to get some safe exercise. There is a wealth of useful activities which can be accomplished right now in our gardens and landscapes.

Cleanup

Get your rake out and clean the winter accumulation of leaves and other debris in shrub beds. This might be a good time to place that material in an out-of-the-way corner to start a compost pile. If you haven’t edged your beds for a while, this would be a great time to give those edges a sharp clean look.

Treat for moss

In the Pacific Northwest, moss accumulates overwinter in shaded and wet areas. For soil and lawn areas iron-based Moss Out! products are available. For roofs and other structures, the moss control products contain zinc instead of iron.

Weed control

Those pesky winter weeds are quite small right now but they will soon develop flowers and then seeds that will scatter into the soil to grow next season. Bending is good exercise when you pull weeds. Reach down to the base of the weed and pull it out by the root. If you can’t or don’t want to bend, a hoe works well for weeding. My favorite weeding tool is a hula hoe. It is sharp on both front and back and pivots for flexibility. If you get the weeds before they go to seed they can also be placed in your compost pile.

Fertilize

April is an excellent time to give your lawn its first spring fertilizer application. Almost any lawn fertilizer will work. I check the label to make sure it has iron as well as nitrogen and potassium. Even a small percentage of iron will give your lawn a quick green-up. Look to see if part of the nitrogen is coated with sulfur or poly to give it a longer-lasting effect. Organic fertilizers naturally contain iron and are longer lasting. If you have broadleaf weeds in your lawn, a combination weed-and-feed product will perform both jobs.

Trees, shrubs, vines and perennial flowers are just starting to grow. They will thrive better with an application of organic or general purpose fertilizer such as 16-16-16.

Planting

This is a great time to plant trees, shrubs and vines including roses, berries and fruit trees. Cool weather vegetables are all frost tolerant and grow well in early spring. They include root crops (carrots and onions), leaf crops (spinach, lettuce and cabbage), flower bud crops (broccoli, cauliflower and peas).

Cold tolerant flowers such as pansies, petunias, alyssum and snapdragon can also be planted in April.

Although many nurseries and garden stores are closed to shopping, some are open for phone orders with drive-by pickup or delivery.

Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. allenw98663@yahoo.com

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