30 April 2010

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Of late, we as a province, particularly southern Alberta, have received an unceremonious dumping of snow!  (This photo was taken in Airdrie by Kim Martin.)  Spring storm season is upon us, and while Central/North Alberta (namely Edmonton region) did not receive the snow but did receive rain, some areas of Southern Alberta experienced power outages, school closures, not to mention treacherous driving conditions.  As of today, however, the system seems to be clearing off and snow has for the most part already melted!  We really need this moisture for the crops!  Recently newscasters reported that Edmonton region has received about one-half its regular amount of moisture for this time of year.  Though we thought we had a lot of snow, apparently we had less than adequate and this last winter is considered "dry".  Unlike Southern Alberta which "enjoys" chinook winds through winter, our snow lasts until warmer temperatures melt it away.  We are enjoying an unusually early spring.  I only hope we do not pay for this later.  A sudden drop in temperatures could be detrimental to trees already budding out.

My mother said her one of her plum trees is already flowering and she is concerned this last bout of winter may damage the blooms and eliminate chances of fruit.  It is a viable concern.  Should flower buds of fruiting trees and shrubs freeze, fruit may never develop.  There is not much the gardener can do to avoid this.  You can try mulching the trees to insulate the roots so the soil does not warm so early, thus possibly preventing the sap from running too early.  This may delay flower bud opening.

This next month is very busy for gardeners!  By now you have probably dethatched, aerated and possibly even fertilised your lawn.  If not, do it soon!  Debris should be removed from all beds.  Save some mulch around your tender perennials and less-hardy shrubs (ie. hydrangeas, magnolias, rhododendrons).  You may begin removing a bit at a time over the next few weeks.  The key to know when to start is to look to the native trees.  Once their buds begin to open, you may start to slowly remove the mulch around your plants (this refers to winter mulch).  If adding new mulch to your beds such as pine or cedar shavings, avoid mulching close to the crowns of your perennials to help prevent rotting of the crown.
Fertilize your perennials this month and your trees and shrubs with a slow-release formula.  Lawns should be fertilized with a higher nitrogen formulation.  This year I used a fertilizer/corn gluten mix.  The corn gluten is a natural weed inhibitor.  It coats all seeds, including new grass seed so don't sow seed until 5-6 weeks following application.  Corn gluten prevents germination of seeds by coating them.  It is more expensive but since Weed 'n Feed formulations have been deemed unsafe for city water due to lawn runoff, it is the best thing available to gardeners.  The City of Edmonton now has a bylaw prohibiting application of Weed 'n Feed.  Applications of weed killers (herbicides) are still allowable but that may change soon too as it has in bigger centers such as Toronto.  It is time to go "au naturale"!  Get out your dandelion tool and be prepared to manually remove weeds.

Take a walk about in your garden, as I did first thing this morning.  If you use a garden journal, take notes of growth, items that need moving, perennials that need dividing.  Now is a good time to divide peonies, hostas, iris, ground covers, and such.  Photograph for future reference.  Enjoy!

May To Do List:

•When temperatures are in the mid teens during the day, begin hardening off annuals started indoors & your bedding plants in a lightly shaded area protected from the wind.  Gradually expose them to periods of sunshine; water and fertilize regularly.  Bring indoors at night if there is a risk of frost or use Reemay cloth to cover them.

•Plant up containers that are small enough to be placed indoors if frost threatens.

•Pansies can be planted outdoors in containers now.  Sow sweet peas.

•Lift, divide, and replant portions of perennials that need rejuvenating.

•Plant hardy vegetables such as peas, beets, and spinach in early May.  Kuhlmann's Market Gardens and Greenhouses planted these crops as early as mid-April this year. (Edmonton)

•Remove dead, weak, or crossing branches from roses; prune back tip-kill to green wood, just above an outward-facing bud.

•Using a dandelion tool, remove early weeds.

•After May long weekend, plant bedding annuals and vegetable seeds.  Be prepared to cover plants if there's a chance of frost.

•Start checking growing tips of delphiniums and monkshoods for caterpillar; pick them out of curled-over foliage and destroy. They may be dusted with a rose/floral dust at this time.

•Fertilize water lilies.  Don't change all the pond water even if it looks like pea soup. This is called algae bloom and will clear on its own in a few weeks.

•When pond temperature is at least  15 degrees C, you may add fish and water lilies.

•Add tender plants such as water hyacinth, water lettuce, and taro to pond when danger of hard frost is past.

15 April 2010

Southern Alberta (zone 3) Spring Storm

Photo taken by my mom in Southern Alberta following the spring storm April 14, 2010.  The snow had already started to melt by the time this was taken.

13 April 2010

Garden Memories

From top: Summer 2009 (puppy at play), Summer 2009 (Endless Summer Hydrangea and puppies), Summer Wine Ninebark (behind it is a Brandon Cedar and in front a barberry), Spring 2010 (pond and trees including a Tolleson's Weeping Juniper in the corner, front right - a Three-Flowered Maple which still had not lost it's leaves & Hakuro Nishiki Willow to the left of the pond), Beautiful Spring Day 2010 (Swedish Columnar Aspen)

Planting a Dog Safe Garden


This is an informative site regarding planting a dog safe garden.  Including a list of safe plants for sun and shaded areas in the yard and articles on toxic plants, this is a good read for all gardeners.

03 April 2010

Fungal Alert - Black Knot on Local Schubert Chokecherries

To my dismay, my beloved Bailey's Schubert Chokecherry tree once again has evidence of black knot.  It is unfortunate that I have had to deal with this same fungus the previous two years, but it is now rampant throughout the neighborhood, including the trees planted by the city along the walkways.  Black knot presents itself as a black, crackled mass on a twig or branch.  It is a fungus, and, if left untreated, can girdle the branch or twig causing its demise.  Basically it strangles it.  The only way to treat this, is to remove the afftected limb by cutting about a foot below the diseased area and disposing of it in the garbage.  DO NOT compost it!  It is necessary to cut well below the infected area because the fungus can spread through the tissue beyond what is visible to the eye.  Be sure to use sharp tools, ie. pruners, lopper or saw,  and disinfect with a 10% bleach solution between each cut.

That is my task of the day, to remove and destroy and to contact the city and neighbours regarding their trees. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...