Saturday, May 08, 2021
40.0°F

MY GARDEN PATH: Spring is here!

by ELAINE CERNY
| March 28, 2021 1:00 AM

As you know, our March came in like a lamb. According to legend, that means it will go out like a lion. Time will tell as I'm writing this with lots of March left. Hmm…

March 20 was the Vernal Equinox…the official first day of spring. Our days and nights are equal now and the days will continue stretching until the first day of fall, the Equinox in September. I just hope that takes a long time getting here.

If and when our yards and beds get dried out, we can finally get busy “digging in the dirt.” It's just not a good idea to get started on that too soon. Patience…

In the meantime, get those pepper and tomato plants started indoors. They need a long head start in order to be ready for their outdoor homes in late May, depending on the weather. One of my favorite tomatoes to grow is called Sun Sugar. The fruits don't get big, but they do have a wonderful taste and there are lots of them. I had one last summer that was in a large planter and grew as tall as the house eaves. Sure hated to see it freeze at the end of the season.

Watching the birds is always fun and interesting. Keep those feeders clean and filled up. In order to enjoy even more bird sightings, remember that water brings in more of them than food. A shallow bowl of water is ideal. It will need scrubbing occasionally too. We don't want to spread any diseases among our feathered friends.

Speaking of birds, be sure to clean out those birdhouses as the little guys and gals will be looking for a home any day now. In fact, I'm already seeing some nest building going on in my yard.

I'm also seeing lots of crocus flowers around the neighborhood. These grow from tough little bulbs and are often the first things to bloom in spring. Some stores are now offering blooming pansies and primroses. If you're tempted, go ahead and buy some as they can be planted now. They're tough and can withstand quite a bit of cold.

Just err on the side of caution, as far as some plants that you'll see in stores, they're not all hardy for our area. Big box stores will offer the same plants at the same time whether you live in Post Falls or Dallas. A word to the wise: buying from local greenhouses is always the best way to go as they won't try to sell you something that's not going to survive in our area. Most of them will open for the season around the first of April.

It's still a bit early to do any lawn fertilizing. Your fertilizer will just be wasted if applied too soon. Wait until you see some growth on your grass. If you put it on too soon, it will just be washed off into the drains and maybe the lake or river.

Speaking of lawns, core aeration is a good thing, dethatching is not. The latter will tear up the roots and the grass will just have to grow new ones as replacements. On the other hand, core aeration just opens up little spots for water and fertilizer to get down to the roots and do their thing.

I get a kick out of the “group names” given to some birds. Many of them are very descriptive including: a charm of hummingbirds, a scold of jays, a murder of crows and a parliament of owls. Some of the animal groups are interesting too, such as a mischief of mice, a paddling of ducks and a nuisance of cats.

Happy Spring!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is 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 to late October for more than 12 years.