Words Of Encouragement

I know what you all are thinking: “Will spring ever come?”  It’s a fair question but I can assure you that spring has already come and we are well on our way to summer, although that probably doesn’t make you feel any better.  Beyond a doubt, this has been the worst spring weather I can remember since moving to the northwest 30 years ago.  Do not despair, it’s not as bad as it seems.


Remember the saying, “April showers bring May flowers”?  I would think based on the immoderate rainfall we have suffered through that we are going to have some incredible May flowers, assuming they didn’t get washed away or drowned in April.  Judging from the progress I am seeing in my own garden, Mother Nature is doing just fine and my trees, shrubs, and perennials are gloriously in full bloom, mostly right on schedule or at the most only a week or two late.  All this rain doesn’t seem to slow down the garden nearly as much as it slows down the gardener and therein lies the chief source of our frustration.


In years past, we have usually had a week or two in February to get out and do some work in the garden.  Not this year!  In March we could usually catch up on what we didn’t get done in February.  Not this year!  For sure, April was the month to finally get a handle on all the chores we couldn’t do in February or March.  Not this year!  So it is understandable that we are all totally frustrated and feeling completely behind the eight ball, but it is not cause for panic.


If you have not pruned the roses yet, no problem.  Go ahead and whack the heck out of them if you need to and in 2 to 3 weeks they will be back in full leaf.  Be sure to feed them after pruning.


Haven’t finished pruning the fruit trees?  Again, no problem.  I often wait until mine have finished blooming before I prune them figuring that the more flowers I leave on during the blooming cycle the better my odds are of getting them pollinated.  


Speaking of fruit trees, I suspect many of us didn’t get a dormant spray on either.  Again, not to worry.  Similar sprays can be applied when new growth emerges and are often just as effective.  Remember not to apply any kind of insecticide, natural or synthetic, when a plant is in full bloom or you will kill the bees.


Haven’t planted the veggie garden yet?  No problem.  Cool season crops like lettuce, onions, and broccoli will do just fine being planted in May.  The only caveat might be if it suddenly turns hot like in the 80’s, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.  


Still haven’t weeded the garden?  Unfortunately, this is probably a problem in that those weeds have most likely gone to seed.  The good news is that they won’t germinate again until next fall so you have time to work the soil and cover it with a nice, pretty one-inch layer of compost, which will smother most of the seeds and prevent them from coming back.


Finally, remember that in the northwest we can plant year ‘round unless the soil is saturated or frozen, so there is plenty of time to plop in a few new perennials, perhaps a new dwarf shrub or some berry plants and get them established before winter.  Stay positive and like most gardeners, optimistic.  The sun will shine again.