A GROWING CONCERN: Don’t start April as a gardening fool

NEXT WEEKEND IS Easter, just this week was the beginning of Spring.

We are in the season of new growth and the time of rebirth and so, as I am now in the year of my retirement, I reflect.

Many of you who have followed me for any amount of time know, I love to travel —55 countries, 48 states so far.

So it is somewhat with a heavy heart (pruning hand actually), that I believe this will be my last year writing the garden column …

Oh you people — April Fools! Anyone who knows me knows that’s a big joke!

You will have to pry this pen from my cold, dead fingers before I stop writing this column. (Actually, the first draft is written with pen and paper, so maybe I should retire.)

I love being the cheerleader for my industry here on the Olympic Peninsula.

As we all know, the weather is perfect, never hot, never cold, no mosquitoes and no humidity.

Gardening is therapeutic, and thus, a reliever of stress.

Gardening is creative, allowing for artistic expression.

Gardening is fantastic exercise, keeping one very nimble.

So worry not.

This April Fools day, I’m not going anywhere — except Panama and Colombia later this year.

What I am going to do is tell you what foolish things you could do in your garden this April.

Still too early

You would be an absolute fool to buy the “warm crop” flowers I am seeing now in the stores, mostly mass outlets.

Don’t be a joker and buy the likes of marigolds, geraniums, begonias, zinnias, impatients, salvia, tomatoes, peppers or squash.

Be a genius and stick with perennials like roses, peonies, delphiniums, coral bells, columbine, heather and other bushes or shrubs (think sweet peas).

Pest control

Do not let the mice or the slugs play you for the fool.

Take appropriate action.

They will destroy your bulbs, lilies and young vegetable garden shoots.

Be wise and this week put down pet-safe slug bait and purchase mouse traps.

As well, don’t fall for the con that it is early in the season and weeds are not a concern.

This week, be smart, they are already flowering for a second generation and it’s only April 1.

So get those weeds today.

Food for thought

It would also be rather dumb to not apply your nutrient programs now to the lawn, landscape, flower beds and vegetable gardens.

This is the time of year when your plants have the greatest demand for the food that sustains them throughout the coming growing season.

Fertilize very soon and use organic fertilizers if at all possible.

And be specific!

Only a fool puts lawn fertilizer on the vegetable garden or rhody and azalea food around all their bushes.

Use the fertilizer for the exact job for which it is labeled.

And finally, be nobody’s fool — love the paradise we live in.

This is paradise, enjoy it everyday.

And that’s no April Fools!

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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