Wednesday, June 03, 2020

ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — Got spring fever yet?

| March 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Spring is creeping ever closer. Don’t let April Fool’s Day scare you. It’s just another day. Also a chance to pull a joke on someone.

Our recent Vernal Equinox was the earliest in 124 years! Most of you already know that the word equinox means equal, with day and night being the same length. The Autumn Equinox, in fall, is the same.

Now is the time for trimming back the dead stems and leaves on your roses. Be sure to pick up and trash those leaves as they can carry black spot and other diseases.

Perennials can also use some attention. Cut the old dead canes to the ground and either cut them up for the compost pile or trash them. Be careful to avoid knocking off any new growth.

Roses and perennials can use a dose of fertilizer about now. When buying a bag of fertilizer, you will see three letters: N, P and K on each bag or box. It’s important to know what these letters mean so you get the right fertilizer for the right plant need.

• N stands for nitrogen and is used for healthy foliage and growth.

• P stands for phosphorus and is needed for flower and/or fruit production. It also stimulates root systems.

• K stands for potassium, which improves overall vigor and disease resistance.

A “complete” fertilizer will have all three.

Acid lovers such as hydrangeas, rhododendrons and blueberries need an acid type fertilizer. There are bags and boxes especially for them.

Despite all the advertising you may be seeing, now is NOT the best time to put fertilizer on your lawn. Experts say that it is best to wait until late spring, such as May. In the meantime, you may want to have your lawn aerated as that gives it great drainage and openings for the fertilizer to reach the roots when you do apply it. Your lawn will thank you for it.

According to an old adage, when the crocus are blooming, it’s time to plant radishes, parsnips and spinach. There are lots of crocuses in bloom right now.

Now that the sun has moved farther north, we’re getting a stronger dose through our south windows. This is the time to move your sensitive plants like African violets, a bit back from the windows, or add a sheer curtain. Scorched leaves are not what you want.

Other harbingers of spring are the birds. Our yard is being visited with huge flocks of robins, plus a few each of mourning doves, song sparrows, Oregon Juncos, Cassin’s finches and an occasional flicker.

According to a quote from Robin Williams, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s Party!’”

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Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October for the past 12 years.