Indeed, spring has sprung about two weeks (or more) earlier than most of us are accustomed to. Dogwoods are in full bloom, something that usually doesn’t happen until Mother’s Day. Our roses have set buds and could be blooming as early as the first or second week of May, a full 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule. I suspect the good folks at the Skagit Tulip Festival are lamenting this hot weather, which causes tulips to splay open and not be nearly as attractive (and not last as long either). Taurus rhodies (big bright red trusses) have already finished their bloom cycle, along with flowering cherries and flowering crabapples too. I think you get the picture. Spring has arrived fast and furious.
While we might lament the rapid passing of some of our favorite spring bloomers, the good news is that we can get an early start on our “summer” planting. We are already selling tomatoes and peppers, which will cope with the still cool soils without rotting, like cucumbers or squash will if planted too soon. Resist the urge to plant these warm soil lovers or else you will probably be planting them a second time a month from now. And don’t even think about planting basil until the soil temperature is above 60 degrees, preferably closer to 70. Purchasing an inexpensive soil thermometer can take the guess work out of all this temperature stuff.
Speaking of cold soils, a lot of customers are asking us for water plants for their ponds. Specifically, they are looking for water hyacinths and water lettuce, both floaters that need water temperature in the 70 or even 80 degrees to be happy and grow. While it makes good sense to wait on these floating aquatics, water lilies, water Hawthorne (which is blooming now with a fragrant white flower) and miniature cat tails will do just fine in cold water. Be sure and use some aquatic fertilizer tablets (which are safe for fish) with these perennials water plants to keep them blooming and growing all summer.
Warmer temperatures make it much easier to kill broadleaf weeds in our lawns. The kind of chemicals that work on these buggers act the fastest when the air temp is in the 70’s or warmer. You will get the best results by adding a spreader/sticker, like Bonide Turbo, to your herbicide. Plants, like clover, have little “hairs” that will actually keep the water droplets suspended above the leaf surface and reduce the absorption. Spreader/stickers work by reducing the surface tension and allowing the drops to spread out over the entire leaf surface like a coating of wax. Sometimes you can get away with using less herbicide because all of the product is touching the leaf. Less is always better for the environment.
Looking for a new style of tool that reduces fatigue? Give Radius Tools a try! They make shovels, digging forks, weeders, edgers and an assortment of hand tools that are designed to keep you from getting blisters or sore muscles. They have a funny looking round handle, that despite its odd appearance, is very comfortable. They also come in several bright colors which makes them easy to find if you leave them out in the yard and adds a bit of whimsy to the yard work. Come chat with the sales rep this coming Saturday, from 10am to 2pm, at the nursery and fill out a ticket for a shot at winning a free tool.