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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2014

IN THE GARDEN

Time to help bulbs, fight crabgrass

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
GARDENING COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE
Kelly Heidbreder Kelly Heidbreder
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So, you are tired of the piles of gray, ugly snow and you are anxious for those bulbs to push out of the frozen ground and prepare for a spring bloom. Get in line. It is the sixth day of spring and we are ready to kick winter to the curb.

I am here to rescue you. It is time to sharpen those tools, get some bulbs in the ground, and prepare to fight the crab grass.

Sharpen the tools

Your spades, trowels, and rakes have been hanging in the garden shed for the past few months and might need some attention. Fill a bucket halfway with sand and prepare to sharpen your tools.

Stab the blade end of your shovels and trowels into the sand a few times. This will help clean off the debris from last fall and give them a sharper edge. If you want them really sharp, take your tools to a shop that sharpens lawn mower blades. Brush the ends of your garden rake with steel wool to freshen them up. Coat all of your metal ends with a light coating of oil and they will be ready to start turning the soil once it thaws out.

Spring bulbs

I spent some time with Dan Anderson, president of the Anderson’s Store Retail Group. He said spring bulbs just popping out of the ground should be just fine as we start to warm up.

“You might even see some of the bulbs starting to pop up through the snow,” Mr. Anderson said. “They are usually planted in the fall and need the winter cold to grow in the spring. Even though we have had some heavy snow, they will push through the hard ground and bloom in the weeks ahead,” he said.

Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth are the first to peek their heads out of the ground. Once the snow has completely melted away, sprinkle bone meal on the ground around your bulbs to help feed the bulb below ground as the foliage and blooms emerge.

If you have an area in your garden that usually is filled with early blooms, but is covered with a mound of snow, give them a hand. Clear the heavy snow off of the flowerbed. If the area has been chewed up by the snowplow, watch the bulbs carefully. You might have to level the soil and add a fresh layer of topsoil of much of it has been pushed away. If they don’t emerge at all, dig them up and replant them in another area of the garden. If they are strong, you will still see some blooms this season.

Crabgrass

Your turf is still sleeping and luckily, so are the weeds. One of the first lawn weeds to emerge will be crabgrass. Large crabgrass has wide blades and a yellowish-green color, making it easy to spot in a lawn of fine-textured turf. Another dead give-away, is that it will grow out instead of growing up like more desirable turf.

Once it the soil warms up to around 60 degrees, it will start to spit out over 150,000 seeds per plant throughout the season.

Mr. Anderson says it is the perfect time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide. “There s a little bit of fertilizer in our crabgrass preventer along with other chemicals that will stunt the seeds before they have a chance to sprout,” he said. “It is important to a apply a pre-emergent herbicide before the soil gets to the sprouting temperature of 60 degrees, so you will need to put it on your lawn in the next few weeks.”

Don’t apply pre-emergent herbicide in an area that you will want to grow grass seed because it will see the same fate as the crabgrass seed and wither and die before sprouting.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 



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