By Daniel Sparler
This article is a reprint from the spring issue of The Buzz – a 16-page quarterly newsletter that is mailed to all BBGS members. Enjoy this and several other member benefits by becoming a BBGS member!
We’re all practicing social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work in your own garden! With the arrival of April and daylight saving time, this is the perfect time to get outside on these ever-lengthening, light-drenched afternoons and tackle a few of these spring tasks!
Clean up left-over winter debris such as matted leaves, ornamental grass thatch and decaying fern fronds. This process presents a golden opportunity to check for slugs and dispatch them quickly without the use of chemicals, which often cause heavy collateral damage to pollinators. Allow bulb foliage to wither completely and turn brown before tugging it out.
Spread organic mulch and compost (around a two-inch depth is optimal for most plants) over your garden beds, making sure not to smother shallow rooters such as rhododendrons. Cut back hardy fuchsias and half-hardy broadleaf evergreen shrubs such as Acca sellowiana (pineapple guava) as much or as little as you’d like. For spring blooming hardy shrubs such as Kerria japonica, rhododendrons, forsythias and lilacs, wait until they’ve finished blooming before pruning.
Plant vegetable seeds when the danger of frost is past in your neighborhood (this varies widely—in much of Seattle and Bellevue it’s mid-March, but can be as late as May 1 in lowlying areas such as Woodinville). Most seeds germinate best when soil temperature is consistently above fifty-five degrees, although warm-weather items such as beans and sweet corn need sixty degrees.
Take your houseplants outside for a few hours on mild days and give them a spring cleaning with a delicate to moderate shower from the garden hose. Be sure to keep them in the shade to avoid sunburn and let them air dry before taking them back inside.
Before long, things will be back to normal, and you will have a beautiful garden to enjoy!
Need plants or gardening supplies? Many Bellevue Botanical Garden Society partner nurseries are still open, including Bellevue Nursery (Open 10-4 daily. Phone orders, curbside pick-up and local delivery available), Swansons Nursery (taking phone orders for carside pick-up or home delivery), Gray Barn Nursery (Open 8-4 M-F, Sat 9-4, Sun 9-3. Phone orders, curbside pickup, and in-store shopping available), and Classic Nursery (open for in-store shopping). These nurseries are carefully following social distancing guidelines. Please call our other partner nurseries to see if they are open. BBGS members receive discounts at our partner nurseries, so be sure to mention your membership at check out!