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Master Your Garden

By Barbara Kozlowski,

Master Gardener, Cattaraugus County

Gardens are growing! My gardens are filled with blooming daffodils, hyacinths, and soon to be the early tulips. Other items are growing, too. It’s so nice to see green.

Of course, along with the green of emerging plants, come the not-so-welcome weeds. This is the time of year to attack these unwelcome plants and rid our gardens of them. I like to dig out as many as I can — hard work but very rewarding. Another method is to use a pre-emergent, like Preen, before any weeds begin to sprout. Follow the directions on the container for best results. As a last resort, in very stubborn weedy areas, the use of a commercial weed killer will rid that area of any weeds. It is recommended, however, not to plant any other plants in this section as per the label instructs.

I much prefer to rid an area by digging out the weeds (or grass), turning over the area if very large, planting and then mulching to prevent any additional weed growth.

As the cleaning out of our gardens progresses, it is a joy to see returning plants slowly emerging. If you didn’t make a garden plan before, now is a good time to start. This plan can assist you with what is growing, how much room they need, and is it time to possibly divide plants to make room for other plants growing in the same garden.

Day lilies, hostas, columbine, iris, peonies and bachelor buttons, to name a few that grown profusely in my gardens, are divided almost every other year. These plants are fairly hardy perennials and once established in a new location, continue to expand. For additional information on division of specific plants, check the library or the Internet, or contact me through this paper.

A garden plan is also good if you plant a vegetable garden. Even on a small basis, vegetables should be rotated and not planted in the same area each year. Garlic and onion, for example, should be planted in different areas of your garden so they do not deplete the soil of nutrients essential to their best development. Amending garden soil with compost will ensure good plant growth.

To make a plan of your garden or gardens, get a notebook or use a garden planner and make a simple drawing of the garden, note what is growing where, when it emerges, flower color and size in relation to the rest of the garden. If you make a simple plan, later you can refine it, add pictures of what’s growing there and how it well it grows, and whether this plant returned the following year. Making a simple plan of a vegetable garden planted with seeds or plants, and recording how well the garden functioned, will provide valuable future information.

This type of plan can also work well with container gardens. Planting in containers allows us to place the containers in sun, shade or a combination of sun and shade. I have found container planting can work well for tomato plants as well as various flowers.

A wealth of information will be available at the Master Gardeners’ Gardening Day program on May 17. Call the Master Gardener’s Office at (716) 699-2733, ext. 127 to sign up. It’s free!

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