by Connie Oswald Stofko
by Connie Oswald Stofko
It’s spring on the calendar, and it feels likes spring in our gardens, too! Snowdrops and crocuses are blooming while daffodils and hyacinths are budding. It’s been sunny and warm outside!
Here are a few things you can do in your spring garden in Western New York.
Take a walk in your yard
- Pick up any trash that has blown into your yard.
- See if you have damage from rabbits, deer or moles and voles.
- Look around. What is interesting now? What are you missing? Get ideas from past garden walks.
- Enjoy the sunshine, birds and fresh air!
Pansies are a cool weather annual. They don’t mind cool temperatures and they can tolerate some frost. That’s why you can put a pot of pansies out now and leave it out.
Weed your gardens
We’ve had mild–even warm!– weather in Western New York, so your soil should be thawed enough to pull up some weeds. The soil should be damp enough that the roots come out easily, too.
Cut back ornamental grass
Cut back ornamental grass to several inches above ground level. You may already see the new, green growth starting.
Cut a few branches to force inside
Your spring shrubs, such as forsythia, pussywillow and crabapple, aren’t blooming yet, but you can force them to bloom inside now, said David Clark, horticulture instructor. Cut off a few branches, take them inside and place them in a vase of water.
Bonus tip: Sign up for horticulture classes with Clark at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.
Clean out your garage or shed
We’re limited in the number of things that we can do outdoors now, but before you know it, there will be lots to do in our gardens. Get ready by organizing your pots and cleaning your tools. You’ll be glad you did.
Hook up your rain barrel
In the winter we have to unhook our rain barrels from the water source to prevent the barrel from cracking. We probably won’t get temperatures now that are low enough and consistent enough to freeze a barrel full of water, so we can hook them up again.
Not only do they provide you with a convenient source of water for your gardens, rain barrels can help the environment, too.
Buy a rain barrel or composter
Rain barrels, compost bins and accessories are available in a sale being held by Erie County, in partnership with the Western NY Stormwater Coalition, the City of Buffalo, and the Town of Wheatfield. The deadline to order is May 8. You’ll pick up your item in Buffalo or Wheatfield on May 19, 20 or 22. Get all the details here.
Don’t rush on these tasks
It’s so tempting to clear out leaf litter now, but if you do that, you may be harming bees, said Pamela A. Moore, Master Gardener.
“In my Master Gardener class we were told to avoid raking until we ACTUALLY observed bees flying about,” Moore said. “Other sources state that there should be no raking until there have been SUSTAINED temperatures above 50 degrees. Personally, I follow the temperature guidelines combined WITH observation. That is the best way to know that you are not unintentionally disturbing the queen bees that spend the winter in small holes ON or just below the surface.”
She cites the article “Bring Back the Bees” on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website site that states: “Because most queens overwinter in small holes on or just below the ground’s surface, avoid raking, tilling or mowing your yard until April or May. If you do need to mow, do so with the mower blade set at the highest safe level.”
It may be too soon to start seeds inside. Starting your seeds too early for summer plants is worse than starting them too late.
But now is a good time to start cool weather vegetables.