NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 9, 2014

Tim's Tips: Answers to early spring gardening questions

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — It was nice to have a decent weekend. Sad when the definition of a nice weekend is 50 degrees and howling winds!

People were coming into the garden center with lots of questions. Let me take a few moments and answer some of those questions.

People were asking if it was too soon to put down a crabgrass control on their lawn. The general rule of thumb is that the crabgrass control is put down when you see the forsythia bushes in bloom. There have been years when that was the first week in April, and there are years when it is in early May.

The answer is if you see the bright yellow forsythia bushes in bloom, it’s time to put down the crabgrass control.

Pansies are now in many of the garden centers. People have asked if it is too early to plant the pansies. Pansies are one of the most cold-tolerant of the spring-blooming flowers. There is nothing that says spring like a window box full of colorful pansies. Take some time, and get your planters filled with some beautiful pansies.

People have also asked if there are any vegetable plants that they can set out in the garden. The cold-tolerant vegetable plants are lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, peas, spinach, chives, parsley and kale. There are also many vegetable plants that you can plant from seed in the garden. These include beets, carrots, peas and onions. Onion sets will be available in a few weeks.

Don’t feel that you have to wait to plant something in your vegetable garden. There are many cold-tolerant plants that you can put into the ground now.

A few people have asked about removing the burlap that was placed around plants in the fall. The purpose of the burlap is to protect the plants from the wind and also to help prevent damage from wet snow. If you base the decision on wind alone, then, yes, you could remove the burlap. The ground is reasonably thawed so your plants can take up water to offset any moisture lost to the wind.

The problem may be that you can always get a wet and heavy snowstorm in April. My guess would be that you could take the burlap off the shrubs. You will just need to hope that we don’t get one of those heavy, 12-inch snowstorms in mid-April.

Every year, the question comes up about the tulip and daffodil bulbs putting up new growth and how a very cold night may damage the plants.

The early spring-flowering bulbs are very cold-tolerant. Temperatures in the upper teens and 20s will generally not hurt the plants. If you are really worried, you can always cover the plants for the night.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.