Garden Nerd Series: Timing

We’re kicking off a new series here at Tenth to the Fraser. The Garden Nerd series will look at gardening issues in New Westminster. Suggestions for topics, guest submissions, and questions are all welcome. We’ll try and address it all!  You can find other posts, as they are added, by clicking hereToday’s post is written by Ross Arbo, CHT. Ross spent 14 years as a landscaper on Vancouver’s West Side. He also happens to be married to Jen Arbo, a regular contributor, and occasionally authors posts over at the Arbolog.  

That Time of Year

Around now, the weather is getting (noticeably) warmer, the last of the snow is gone and many people start to think: gardening.

Not everyone enjoys or appreciates gardening but I find those that do cannot be categorized. Some like a few pots on their balcony that they can throw a bit of water at and are content. Some like to go out into their patch with the clippers every chance they get and weed/cultivate meticulously and water every second day. Still others like to focus on vegetables; sowing seed early in neat rows and waiting with baited breath for their harvest to mature. Whatever type of gardener you are, this is an exciting time of year. Here’s a short list of what I do now:

  1. Pruning – specifically deciduous shrubs & trees. A lot of people recommend major pruning – the kind that removes up to 1/3 of the plants branches or growth – for the more dormant months of January and February. For less severe pruning, wait till March-April when the buds are-a-poppin’.
  2.  Weeding – weeds are just starting to show. Grab them out of your garden beds now before they seed/spread too far and you can theorectically have yourself a worry free May. You will definitely be weeding by June 1st. Be sure to prolong your great weeding job by running a cultivator through the bed after.
  3.  Dividing – most perennials can and should be divided at this time. I don’t know how many garden beds I’ve seen with HUGE clumps of peonies, just starting to stretch that are begging to be divided. Get out there with a sharp shovel and start dividing already!
  4. Soil Amending – mix a bag (or 6) into your beds/pots or simply ‘top-dress’ as both will add great nutritional value to your existing soil. Choices these days are endless; from good old ‘mushroom manure’ to ‘locally sourced, sterilized, organic worm castings’. Remember that the operative word is amend; adding too much can shock and burn new roots/shoots.
  5.  Enjoying – gardening does take some time and effort but, in the end, you must enjoy your little patch. No matter what you do, make it your own.

One final word:  for any of you dying to buy and plant that technicolor flat of impatiens you see on sale at Home Depot, Safeway, or any other place, please wait until Mothers Day (May 10, 2009); it’s still too cold at night. I can’t tell you how many times I have to tell my wife to be patient! The flowers will just get shocked and die and then it’s a waste.

Happy gardening!

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