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Down the Garden Path

Out in the Yard and Garden

Lawns have been turning green since the rains have shown up and some lawns have already been mowed for the first time. The south and west exposures may need to be mowed before the rest of the yard. As you get ready to mow for the first time in your yard, be sure the mower deck is clear of any grass clippings from last year and while the deck is raised up, remove, sharpen and replace the cutting blade. When you are working under the deck, pull that spark plug wire off the plug before you start.

If you expect to fertilize the lawn, consider waiting until the natural flush of grown is slowing down before making that first application. This will help even out the frequency between mowing and keep the grass greener longer through the spring. If you are using organic sources for your lawn fertilizer, those flushes of rapid growth do not occur.

Gardeners who got out in the vegetable garden early on are well on their way with those earliest of vegetables. There is still plenty of time to start a garden and planting will continue for the next several weeks. Some of the last vegetables to be planted from seed or as a transplant will be the vine crops. Vine crops really favor the warmer soils and air temperatures to flourish. While S. Illinois can grow three complete gardens during the summer, we can manage two in our area. The second garden will need to be started from seed while we are still harvesting the spring and summer plantings. If you liked the radishes this spring, plant more of them for the fall garden.

Many ornamental flowering trees and shrubs are nearly at bloom stage, with some like Forsythia already in full bloom. At this point in the year, enjoy the bloom show before beginning to do any pruning. Most spring bloomers can be prune within a couple of weeks of after the bloom show has completely faded away. Spring bulbs are just now peaking and putting on quite a show this spring, being well protected from the harsh winter weather under the snow. Bulb foliage should naturally be allowed to yellow before being removed. This puts the maximum amount of food reserves back into the bulb for next year's blast of color.

We are at a great time to do the weeding of the perennial weeds in the perennial and annual flower beds. Perennial flowers are slower to develop than the perennial weeds with the weeds being easy to spot and remove or treat. It will be much harder later as the two grow together. Removing weeds from the annual beds is a great way to start out with a clean weed free bed. Perennial weeds will be the harder to deal with. Annual weeds will be sprouting and more readily controlled as a seedling.

It is a great time to be out in the yard watching the dynamic and rapidly changing yard.