ay garden tips for this area: Spring is here and the garden is beckoning; first dig into the growing season by tackling an easy lawn and garden to-do list. It’s always better to have a plan before you start any type of gardening. As you know gardening here in the Midwest can be a little tricky. So here are some tips to help you have a good experience with your gardening. The key to success with any plant starts in the roots. Strong healthy roots need good drainage, aeration and lots of organic matter to grow and thrive. Also many of you know frost is still a possibility in much of the Midwest this month; so I always use Mother’s Day as a safe date to plant. Example the forecast for this weekend is for a chance of frost. If you have put out some plants already; just be ready to cover them. For those of you that want some early-May color, choose plants that withstand chilly spring nights: snapdragons, sweet alyssum, pansy, or fragrant flowering stock. If you are going with hanging baskets, choose annuals like fuchsia and bacopa, which won’t wilt during cool nights. Annual sweet potato vines, nasturtium, and impatiens are frost-tender and can’t take even a light frost. Early spring is an ideal time to divide summer- and fall-flowering perennials. Try to tackle the task before plants reach 6 inches tall. Also don’t forget to water newly transplanted divisions. Not sure if you need to divide?
Ask yourself these questions: Are clumps too big and crowding other plants? Has flowering been reduced during the last growing season(s)? Does new growth ring a dead spot in the middle? Do you want more starts of that perennial?
Dividing Perennials: Save money in your garden and keep your perennials healthy by dividing them properly. Follow our helpful guide to get the job done right. It never hurts to divide your perennials. Dividing your perennials will help keep them healthy, beautiful, in bounds, and will make more plants for future plantings. The reasons for dividing are endless. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle, leaving a bare hole. Overcrowding these perennials can lead to fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts-division keeps the blooms bountiful. Dividing vigorous plants will help keep them from overwhelming their neighbors. Dividing also leaves you with more plants of the same variety-perfect for adding to other places in the garden or trading with friends, family, or neighbors. Here are all of the ins and outs of dividing your perennials so they last for years to come. While you can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those two seasons are best. This is because dividing your perennials can be stressful on the plants-and they’ll recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. That being said, if you want to divide your favorite perennials in summer, be sure to keep them well watered afterward. As far as your plants go, wait to divide them until they’re large enough to make several clumps out of them. Perennials such as asters, hostas can be divided easily with no hassle. All you need is a shovel and work gloves to get the job done. Follow these simple steps to reach healthy-looking perennials. Dig up the clump of perennials that will be divided. To do this, insert the shovel deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen the roots and isolate the clump. You can even use a garden fork or spade to help separate the roots.
Tip: Watering the perennial a couple of days before you dig it up will soften the soil and save you effort.
Force your shovel or garden fork under the root ball and lever the ball up and down to loosen and position it on the shovel. Then, lift the shovel and root ball. Try to keep the root system as intact as you can. Once you dig the plant out of the ground, shake, wash, or brush any excess soil from around the root ball-this makes it easier to pull the clump apart. Pry or cut apart individual crowns. Each clump needs to have sets of leaves and roots in order to grow. Then, replant the divisions promptly so the roots don’t dry out. Plant the roots same depth as they were before and water well. Cover the soil with mulch to help conserve moisture while your new divisions become established. While most perennials benefit from being divided every few years, there are a few that don’t. Avoid dividing these varieties: Baptisia, Bleeding heart, Butterfly weed, Christmas rose, Gas plant, Lavender. “If you are just a beginner or been at gardening for a while; all this information about gardening you can find in my book (THE BLUE BARN) google www. george edward weigel book blue barn. com
You can purchase my books (The Blue Barn) and/or (An-Apple-A-Day) google (www. iUniverse publishing. com) Books, Author: george edward weigel
FOOTNOTE: George Weigel, a Platte County resident, is the founder of Cedar Creek Research, and a freelance writer and a published author specializing in nutrition and organic garden strategies. He is a member of the National Home Gardening Club; member and supporter of Arbor Day Foundation, National Wildlife Federation.