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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Spring 2012

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel Extension Educator

Our typical spring of several weeks has pretty much been compressed into those two weeks of 70+ degree temperatures that have just passed for our early spring bulbs. Sure we still have our flowering shrubs and trees to bloom yet, but unless the weather moderates and remains cooler those blooms will come and go just as quickly as our spring bulbs. Those warm temperatures really accelerated our early spring pruning and early sprays of fruit trees and any dormant shrub pruning that needed to be done. Fruit growers will need to stay on top of their sprays based on plant development, not the typical calendar that we normally base those treatments on.

Right now the lawns are growing and need to be mowed just as soon as possible if you have not already mowed once or twice. If you have not walked your yard, you are going to be surprised how long the grass already is. You may need to mow with the mower set on the highest cut possible and come back in a day or two and mow at your normal height. Kentucky Bluegrasses should be cut at a height or 2.5 to 3.0 inches. If you can readily see clipping laying there, consider raking them off the lawn and using them in the compost pile if you have not used any herbicide yet this year other than a crab grass preventer.

The soil in the vegetable garden could be worked up and any organic matter can be worked in at the same time. We still need to resist planting too early. Unless you are planting some of the hardiest vegetable transplants or potato seed pieces, be patient. The early vegetables from transplants or seeds are Cabbage, Broccoli, Lettuce, Peas, Radish and Spinach.

Even in Northern Illinois gardeners can grow multiply crops of the same vegetable to extend our harvest season. Vegetable plants that like to grow in the cold and cool temperatures of spring will also like the cool cold temperatures that we have in the fall.

Most likely we have all have seen a lot more insects out and about too. Insects develop in the spring as temperatures rise and right along with their host plants. Our milder winter temperatures have allowed more insects to survive the winter and that could mean more of them during the summer and since they started earlier be here longer as well, perhaps having an additional generation. It will be a worthwhile to keep a look out for those insects that are truly a problem in the garden. For vegetables that could be aphids, flea beetles, tomato hornworm or any of the cabbage worms. In the landscape that could mean the spring and fall webworms, Japanese beetles, aphids and related pests like slugs. Just like in a typical year, just because you spot them, does not mean you need to manage them if the damage is minimal and you get plenty of vegetables to eat out of the garden anyway.

If you have questions about your garden plants, Master Gardeners are available to help you identify the pest and offer management suggestions.

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